The decision to have a baby is one of the most joyful times in a couple’s life. As month after month goes by without conceiving, however, the question of infertility arises. Infertility is suspected when a couple has been unable to conceive after 12 months of regular and unprotected intercourse. Infertility is complex and might stem from problems in both partners; as a result, doctors will want to run tests on both the man and the woman. For a woman, this can mean multiple tests; for the man, the tests are fewer.
Contact a doctor to schedule an appointment to begin running infertility tests if conception hasn’t taken place after 12 months of regular intercourse. Generally, a man will see a urologist first, but a general practitioner can begin the tests and later refer you to a specialist.
Get a complete medical history of both the men and women in your family. Some causes of infertility are genetic. Ask your mother about her pregnancy with you, and what childhood illness or accidents you had. Write all of this down, as well as any accidents or illnesses you had as an adult. Take this list with you when you have your appointment with the doctor.
Abstain from sexual intercourse for several days before the doctor's appointment. After he conducts a general physical examination, the doctor may want to run a sperm analysis. This is generally done at the doctor’s office, as it is important for the sperm analysis to take place quickly. Sperm tests are a regular part of male infertility testing; expect the doctor to request them on a regular basis.
Schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist at the suggestion of the general practitioner or urologist. This generally happens when there is a problem with the sperm analysis. Be prepared for the fertility specialist to request another physical examination and another sperm analysis. An abnormal sperm analysis can include a low or nonexistent sperm count, poor motility (movement) or abnormal morphology (form and structure). Your doctor may order blood and urine tests, and even exploratory surgery, to help determine the cause of an abnormal sperm analysis.
Be patient. Infertility tests are complicated and can take place over a series of months, or even years. Educate yourself about infertility. Dr. Sherman Silber pf the Infertility Center of St. Louis is one of the leading specialists in male infertility, and is the author of the book “How to Get Pregnant.”