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Infertility Cubby

The Infertility Workup

In general, if attempts at pregnancy have failed for a full year, it is reasonable to seek the advice of a fertility expert. Earlier intervention may be warranted if one of the partners has a history of injury or illness that could affect fertility, or if the woman is over age 35, since female fertility declines with age.

Evaluation of the Couple
The initial visit involves an interview with the fertility specialist who tries to uncover any obvious problems. The initial workup may also include a counseling session with a trained therapist.

Occasionally the cause for infertility can be found without costly tests. For example; the use of some types of lubricants during intercourse can prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Or, if intercourse doesn't occur during the small window of time that the egg is ripe, then conception is impossible. So proper timing is crucial. Eliciting medical and sexual history from each partner may reveal a history of sexually transmitted disease or other infection or illness that could have produced scar tissue or other problems that prohibit the sperm from reaching the egg. Sperm production is impaired by alcohol use, smoking, certain street drugs, some prescription drugs, and exposure to certain environmental hazards and toxins. These same factors can effect a woman's ability to conceive and sustain a normal, healthy pregnancy.

Initial Interview

  • timing and frequency of intercourse
  • use of lubricants
  • menstrual history
  • sexual history
  • contraceptive history
  • obstetrical history
  • medical history (history of infections, illnesses, surgeries, injuries and medication use)
  • use of alcohol, cigarettes, street drugs
  • exposure to environmental hazards at home and the workplace

The next phase in the infertility workup will involve individual physical exams and various tests to detect possible fertility problems related specifically to the woman and the man.

Excerpted From Nutrition For You, Nutrition For Two

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