How is infertility diagnosed?
After an initial evaluation, the couple will be referred to a reproductive endocrinologist, an infertility specialist. Both partners will be evaluated by a specialized medical team that includes the physician, scientists, nurses, technicians and other staff members.
Specialists use a variety of tests to diagnose the cause of infertility.
UC Davis investigators are among the world's experts in semen analysis.
Semen analysis is one of the first tests performed because any problem would preclude additional and more invasive tests on the woman. A low sperm count, unusual shape and structure, and slow movement can inhibit fertilization.
The UC Davis Andrology Laboratory meets the highest quality assurance standards, and it is registered through the State of California Department of Health and Human Services (CLIA ID# 05D0692854). All tests are performed by fully trained and California licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientists.
The semen evaluation measures various parameters of the semen sample to determine male fertility. Basic parameters include semen volume, sperm count, motility percentage and sperm morphology. Along with other parameters, the complete semen evaluation will help the physician determine if male factor is present and suggest proper treatment for the couple's infertility.
Antisperm Antibody Testing
Antibodies are normally made by the body's immune system to destroy or neutralize foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Some types of infertility may be caused by antibodies against sperm. The immunobead test at UC Davis can detect three different types of antisperm antibodies in a variety of biological samples, including blood, cervical mucus and on sperm cells. Most commercial laboratories can only measure these antibodies in blood.
The Postcoital Test
For pregnancy to occur, sperm must swim from the vagina through the cervix (mouth of the womb), and up through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes to meet the eggs. The postcoital test analyzes the amount and quality of cervical fluid (called mucus) and tests the ability of sperm to swim into cervical mucus after coitus (intercourse). Fertile cervical mucus is made just before ovulation. Since only a few days of each menstrual cycle are suitable for performing this test, our offices are open seven days a week to ensure optimal timing.
Cervical Mucus Penetration Test
A poor postcoital test can be caused by abnormalities of cervical mucus, sperm cells, or both. The cervical mucus penetration test pairs samples of cervical mucus and sperm from patients and compares both with control samples on a microscope slide. The cervical mucus penetration test can determine whether there is a mucus abnormality, a sperm abnormality, or both.
Tests of ovulation
Basal Body Temperature
A simple, inexpensive way to see if a woman ovulates is by charting the body's temperature for a month. This daily chart of a woman's morning temperatures, called basal body temperature, reveals a 0.5 to 1.0 degree Fahrenheit rise when the hormone progesterone is released after ovulation. If ovulation doesn't occur, body temperature remains relatively unchanged.
Progesterone is an ovarian hormone that thickens the uterine lining (endometrium) to prepare for implantation. It can be measured in a carefully timed blood sample. The basal body temperature pattern helps plan the progesterone test.
The endometrium forms the protective environment where the embryo "nests." When the embryo attaches to the endometrium, the process is termed implantation. Since an abnormal uterine lining may prevent implantation, a sample of the endometrium is collected for microscopic analysis during an office procedure known as an endometrial biopsy.
A blockage in the fallopian tubes is a common cause of infertility. Benign tumors (fibroids, polyps) or uterine scarring can distort the uterine cavity and interfere with reproduction.