Investigations will often be initiated by your GP – this can be for either the male or female, or for both at the same time. Occasionally, patients can refer themselves or be referred by a doctor other than their GP. In these cases, the investigations are organised by our nursing and medical staff.
Initial investigations are mainly to find out the following:
1. If the female partner is ovulating (releasing an egg every 4-6 weeks). This is assessed through a series of blood tests checking hormones, and can be confirmed later using an ultrasound scan.
2. If the male partner’s sperm is okay. We check this with a semen analysis. This shows whether the sperm are present in reasonable number, are motile (can swim) and are of the correct shape and size (morphology). Sometimes there are no sperm present at all. This then requires further investigation, which may include blood tests, a physical examination, and occasionally a scan. Find out more about male fertility.
Your GP will often organise these initial tests, and the results should be available when you attend the first consultation with a fertility specialist. At this visit, the specialist may plan a further semen analysis or even a ‘test wash’ – an extension of the test aimed at harvesting the best sperm from a sample. This is used to help decide on the best treatment option.
The fertility specialist will most likely organise an ultrasound scan at this stage to check the following.
3. The Fallopian tubes are not blocked or damaged. This is checked by a tubal patency test – usually a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or laparoscopy and dye test. Find out more about tubal patency testing.
Our senior fertility nurse specialist will then review your results, and if satisfied that treatment options are reasonably straightforward, you’ll go on to treatment planning.
If it seems more complex, there will be a discussion with the consultant, specialist or NUH Life clinical lead, and you might then be invited in for a further consultation. Either way, the entire process doesn’t take too long and treatment planning is normally undertaken within 4-6 weeks.
Treatment options will usually be one of the following:
- Drug therapy to stimulate the ovaries
- Intra-uterine insemination (IUI)
- In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
- Treatment using donor sperm (IUI or IVF)