Fertility Testing for Women

Fertility testing for women at a glance

  • Fertility testing for women uses blood tests and procedures to diagnose the underlying causes of female infertility.
  • A woman should consider fertility testing if she has been trying to get pregnant for more than one year or has a preexisting condition that may affect her fertility.
  • Women age 35 or older should consider testing if they have been trying to become pregnant for six months because age generally reduces a woman’s fertility.
  • Initial testing focuses on the most common causes of infertility that can be identified using the least invasive methods.
  • The risks associated with fertility testing are very low.

Why consider female fertility testing?

A woman should consider fertility testing if she has not achieved pregnancy after one year of having unprotected intercourse on a regular basis. Women who suspect they may have a problem with infertility, due to family history of infertility, abnormality of reproductive organs or experiencing other conditions that can affect fertility, may want to seek testing earlier.

Women age 35 or older are recommended to be tested after six months of trying to get pregnant, due to the decrease in fertility that comes with age. Women over 35 years of age who have one of the following issues may elect to get tested earlier:

  • History of irregular menstrual cycles (more than 35 days between cycles or no periods at all).
  • Known or suspected problems with the uterus, fallopian tubes or other problems in the abdominal cavity, such as endometriosis or adhesions.

What tests are used when diagnosing female infertility?

There are many testing options available to check for female infertility. The infertility evaluation is based on each woman’s individual conditions and health history. Some patients may need to undergo all tests available to diagnose the cause of infertility, while others may only need a few. The doctor will recommend what tests are best for each patient on a case-by-case basis.

Types of fertility tests

  • Ovarian reserve tests can evaluate a woman’s remaining supply of eggs, which reduces as she ages.
  • Uterus testing, including vaginal ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram (HSG), sonohysterogram and hysteroscopy, can determine if fibroids, polyps or adhesions may have compromised the uterine cavity’s ability to attain and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
  • Fallopian tube tests can determine if the tubes are clear and the shape of the uterine cavity is normal to allow transport of the sperm to the egg and the resulting embryo to the uterus. Both X-ray tests, such as the hysterosalpingogram and blood tests, can be used to check tubal function.
  • Hormone tests can evaluate various hormone levels that may cause problems, including anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH), estradiol (a form of estrogen) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

What are the risks of fertility testing and diagnosis?

Non-invasive fertility tests including imaging tests, physical exams, blood work and urine tests are very low risk. Some risks are associated with surgical procedures used in certain tests, such as laparoscopy for abdominal cavity assessment and hysteroscopy for uterus examination. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you before administering any tests.