What to Expect During a Fertility Assessment

fertility assessment

Taking the plunge to visit a fertility specialist can be daunting; especially when you have no idea what to expect. Before you can have IVF or any other fertility treatment, you will need to undergo a fertility assessment. This ensures you are recommended the most suitable treatment and your chances of conception are maximised.

To reduce your fears, it can help to find out as much as you possibly can about the fertility assessment process. So, here you’ll discover everything you need to know before you make an appointment.

What is a fertility assessment?

A fertility assessment is designed to delve into the couple’s medical, sexual and physical history, to establish the true cause of the fertility issues faced. It isn’t until the cause has been identified that a suitable treatment plan can be created.

Women are assessed to see whether ovulation is normal, while men have their semen analysed to detect any possible issues.

Of course, the assessment also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Once an ideal treatment plan has been identified, the specialist will be able to explain the process and what to expect throughout your fertility treatment journey.

Understanding the ovarian assessment

When checking ovarian function, a fertility specialist will begin by taking blood tests. Ovarian function is controlled by the hormones released by the pituitary part of the brain. One hormone in particular, the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), is crucial for fertility as it is responsible for signalling the ovaries to produce an egg-filled follicle. If the level of FSH is high during the earlier part of the menstrual cycle, it can indicate an issue with the ovaries failing to respond to the hormonal signal. This is why blood tests tend to be taken within the first 3 days of the woman’s menstrual cycle.

As you age, the number of eggs the ovaries produce naturally decreases, along with the level of fertility-enhancing hormones. Therefore, the blood tests help to determine how many eggs could potentially be collected for fertility treatment and whether stimulating drugs could be used as a viable treatment option.

As well as blood tests, ovarian ultrasounds are also commonly carried out to determine both the size of the ovaries and the Antral follicle count. Prior to the menopause, the ovaries can shrink and if this occurs, it can decrease the effectiveness of the stimulation drugs used within IVF.

The semen analysis process

The male partner will undergo semen analysis during the assessment. After a sample is provided, it will be analysed to determine sperm count, volume, PH levels, morphology and motility.

The results of the analysis will help the specialist diagnose any potential problems, determine the likelihood of pregnancy and identify potential treatment options. The results will typically be mailed through the post, before they are discussed at your consultation.

Virology assessment

Finally, before a treatment plan can begin, both partners will need to undergo a virology assessment. This involves numerous screening tests including Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Rubella antibodies and a smear test for the woman. Once the results of the virology tests come back, treatment can then be arranged.

Other assessments include a HyCoSy, which is an ultrasound examination of the woman’s fallopian tubes and a 3D Aquascan of the uterus walls, to ensure a successful conception is possible. We also perform genetic testing – although this is not strictly an assessment of the couple’s fertility, it is a way of screening for disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Huntingdon’s disease. As you can see, the fertility assessment is an extensive and lengthy process. Therefore, it is important to undergo the assessment as soon as possible if you want to maximise your chances of conceiving.

To arrange your fertility assessment, email us at info@chilternfertility.co.uk or call us on 01865 782856