How do fertility tests work and do they hurt?

Fertility tests are assess four main reasons of infertility, both male and female. It involves looking at the ovarian reserves, checking ovulation, and checking the fallopian tubes. Checking the ovarian reserve will involve doing a blood test and an ultrasound scan for antimullerian hormone levels and follicle-stimulating hormone. The ultrasound scan measures the presence of small follicles in the ovary, which is also known as an antral follicle count or AFC.

Combining the measurement of the antimullerian hormone along with your FSH – follicle stimulating hormone, along with the measurement of antral follicle count will give you an idea about your ovarian reserve.

Checking for ovulation and walls and measuring the progesterone levels a week before the expected period. That provides us with an idea for healthy progesterone levels when the embryos about to implant.

Assessing for fallopian tubes will involve tests such HyCoSy – Hysterosalpingo-contrast-sonography or arranging a Laparoscopy test if you may have coexisting gynaecological conditions that increase the risk of infertility.

Most of these are outpatient procedures except the Laparoscopy, where it’s a keyhole surgery performed as a surgical procedure. Assessing for male factor involves doing a semen analysis and that would give us an idea if there is any factor that could affect the fertility as a couple.

Do the fertility tests hurt?

The majority of the tests involve blood tests, the ultrasound scan, and also special scans like HyCoSy and a day surgical procedure, so it depends on what tests are being requested. The ultrasound scans are mainly vaginal scans or pelvic scans. However, it’s no more uncomfortable than having a smear test done.

Having HyCoSy is slightly more invasive, and it involves placing a catheter into the womb cavity, instilling a dye, and check for the fill and spill. When the dye spills from the far ends of the tubes, it can irritate the lining of the belly or the abdominal cavity, and that can give rise to a sense of discomfort more commonly described by patients as a bad period cramp.

Having a Laparoscopy is more invasive and more uncomfortable so you would need to take a few days off and use stronger pain killers. The majority of the patients having had a HyCoSy analysis are encouraged to take paracetamol. So largely to reassure you, the majority of fertility tests do not hurt not as bad as patients expect.