Around 15% of couples experience difficulty in conceiving. In many cases options are available which can allow them to go on and have children. Investigations are usually carried out after a year of trying to conceive. This can be earlier in some situations for example if a woman's periods have stopped, or are irregular, if she is 35 or older, or if she had pelvic inflammatory disease in the past. Earlier investigation might also be carried out if either partner has been treated for cancer, or if the man has had surgery to his testes.
Infertility investigations are performed at a specialist clinic at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh or St Johns Hospital but not at Chalmers Centre. Your GP can arrange for initial investigations to be performed before you have a hospital appointment. The initial tests we can arrange are:
- Test of ovulation: This involves a blood test seven days before your next expected period (day 21 in an average 28 day cycle).
- Test for rubella immunity: A blood test to check for immunity to rubella (German measles). Rubella, which is a common infection, can cause severe abnormalities in a baby if caught in early pregnancy. If a woman is not immune to rubella they can be vaccinated with a single injection.
- Chlamydia swab: A self-taken swab to check that there is no infection. Chlamydia is the commonest sexually transmitted infection (STI) and can cause a woman's fallopian tubes to be blocked.
- Height and weight: If you are overweight you will be advised to try to lose weight as this is known to help some people get pregnant.
- Semen analysis: The man produces a sample of semen at home by masturbation. This is sent to the laboratory to check there are sufficient numbers of healthy-looking, motile sperm.
You can get useful information and charts on the Fertility UK website at www.fertilityuk.org.