Fertility Blood Tests for Men and Women

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Fertility Blood Tests for Men and Women

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Fertility tests are essential to determine fertility levels in both men and women. These tests can help a doctor decide the course of treatment for a couple who is unable to conceive due to fertility issues. If you and your partner are unable to conceive for a while now, you may want to check with your gynaecologist and get fertility tests done. Your doctor may do some basic testing or recommend you to a reproductive endocrinologist for thorough fertility tests. Let’s try to understand some fertility blood tests that are done to check fertility levels in men and women.

Common Blood Tests for Fertility

Blood tests to determine male fertility and female fertility may not always be the same. Let’s look at a few common fertility blood tests for men and women, which are necessary during the first few months of pregnancy.

1. Blood Type and Rh

This test checks your blood group and Rh.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This fertility test is done during the first trimester of pregnancy as Rh incompatibilities between a man and woman’s blood may lead to complications in the baby.

Who Should Take the Test?

Both man and woman should get this test done to identify incompatibilities.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

There are 4 blood types – A, B, O and AB along with two Rh types (positive and negative). This test determines which blood group and Rh factor you carry.

What’s Next?

If you are Rh-positive and your partner is Rh-negative, the doctor will give you medicines that will prevent the formation of antibodies during pregnancy.

2. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

The FSH is a hormone that is made by the pituitary gland. In women, this hormone stimulates follicle production in the ovary while in men, it stimulates the testicles to produce sperm.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test is usually done in women on the 2nd, 3rd day of their menstrual cycle to check their ovary function, while in men, it is done to check their testicular function.

Who Should Take the Test?

People above the age of 35 should take this test. Also, women who show symptoms of ovarian failure and men who show signs of testicular failure.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

High levels of FSH in women may mean ovarian failure. The reason is that if the function of the ovary decreases, the pituitary gland is forced to make more FSH in order to stimulate follicle production. In men, high FSH levels may indicate testicular dysfunction.

What’s Next?

Your doctor will study your test results and recommend the best treatment option available for you to increase pregnancy chances.

3. Anticardiolipin Antibodies

Cardiolipin is responsible for regulating the clotting of blood in your body. In some cases, your body can recognize this molecule as foreign and attack it with anticardiolipin antibodies. They are of three types – IgG, IgA, and IgM.

When and Why is the Test Done?

If you have had a miscarriage, then your doctor will advise you to get this blood test done. It can be done anytime during your cycle but not in the middle of a miscarriage.

Who Should Take the Test?

People who are infertile, have miscarriages, history of thrombosis or Lupus need to take this test.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

If your results are abnormal, they may indicate higher levels of these antibodies in your blood. This may cause the formation of small blood clots in the placenta, lessening blood flow from mother to foetus.

What’s Next?

Your doctor will first tell you to do the test twice to get accurate results. If the results are abnormal, then he will prescribe medication to prevent any possible blood clots.

4. Estradiol

Estradiol is a type of oestrogen produced by the ovaries and does the function of thickening the uterine lining and stimulating ovulation.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test can be done at different times during the menstrual cycle. It measures the level of estradiol in your blood and is done in women along with a 3rd Day FSH test to determine ovarian function. The estradiol levels are also measured regularly during stimulation with gonadotropins to optimize the dosage.

Who Should Take the Test?

A high level of estradiol on Day 3 can indicate poor ovarian function. Patients who are taking fertility medication need to have their estradiol levels checked so that the medication effectiveness can be evaluated and adjusted if need be.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

The test results show how well you are responding to ovarian stimulation and/or the correct dosage of gonadotropin that has to be given to increase the development of follicles.

What’s Next?

Your doctor will review results and recommend treatment options to plan for a successful pregnancy.

5. Infectious Disease Screening

If a patient is undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) then they are required to go through an infectious disease screening.

When and Why is the Test Done?

The tests need to be done every 6 months and are done to check for any communicable diseases. The various tests are done to check for: HIV 1 and 2, Hepatitis C antibody, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, RPR (Syphilis) and Rubella (German measles).

Who Should Take the Test?

Both men and women should take this test if they are undergoing IUI and IVF cycles.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

It indicates whether or not you carry any of the above infectious diseases.

What’s Next?

For patients who are undergoing third-party reproduction, a few more additional tests are needed.

A man getting his blood tested

6. Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder caused by different mutations in the gene in chromosome 7. It regulates the production of a protein called cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test is conducted to check for cystic fibrosis abnormality in your gene.

Who Should Take the Test?

Every couple trying to get pregnant should take this test. Men with no sperm in their semen analysis may test positive for this disease.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

This test will tell you whether you and/or your partner carry the mutation which causes cystic fibrosis and can be passed on to the child.

What’s Next?

If you or your partner test positive, then genetic screening can be done before IVF implantation which allows the transfer of normal embryos or those that are just carriers.

7. Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

LH is a hormone that stimulates ovulation and the production of progesterone in women. In men, it stimulates the testes to secrete testosterone.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test is done before attempting pregnancy to check for ovulation in women so that the timing of sexual intercourse or IUI can be set. It can also be done to check for PCOS. In men, it is done to check the testicular function.

Who Should Take the Test?

Every couple should take this test, as abnormal levels of LH hint at infertility.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

Low levels of LH may mean your ovulation is not happening.

What’s Next?

If an LH surge is not detected, then your doctor can inject you with medication so that your process of ovulation can begin.

8. Progesterone

Progesterone is necessary for ovulation and subsequent pregnancy. It prepares the uterine lining so that implantation can occur.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test is done 7 days before your expected period or 7 days after ovulation to determine if normal ovulation has occurred.

Who Should Take the Test?

Women who have a history of miscarriages, ovarian dysfunction or who have bleeding or spotting during early pregnancy should take this test.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

Progesterone levels will rise during ovulation and peak 7 days after. They will fall post that, reaching a low after 13-14 days. If you are not pregnant, then you will start your period once progesterone levels fall to 2-3ng/ml. If you are pregnant, then the levels will rise 10-12 days after ovulation.

What’s Next?

If your progesterone levels show that ovulation is not happening, then your doctor can prescribe medication to induce ovulation.

9. Prolactin

Prolactin regulates the production of breast milk.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test is done on fasting after abstaining from breast stimulation or sexual intercourse for 24 hours prior. It has to be done to check for ovulatory dysfunction as too much prolactin can affect ovulation.

Who Should Take the Test?

Women who have irregular menstrual cycles or milky discharge from the breast are advised to take this test.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

A high level of prolactin may indicate a tumour in the pituitary gland.

What’s Next?

You will need oral medication if you have high prolactin levels.

A woman getting her blood tested

10. Lupus Anticoagulant

Lupus anticoagulant is a protein that causes your blood to clot abnormally.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test can be done in women anytime during their cycle, except when in middle of a miscarriage, to check for these antibodies as they may prevent a successful pregnancy due to blood clots.

Who Should Take the Test?

Anyone can have these antibodies in their bloodstream, but people who are infertile or have miscarriages or Lupus are prone to have higher levels which is why they need to take the test.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

This test involves two tests called Modified Russell Viper Venom Time and Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time, which see how long it takes your blood to clot. If it is a longer clotting time, then that can mean you have lupus anticoagulant in your blood.

What’s Next?

Your doctor will first tell you to take the test twice to get accurate results. If the results are abnormal, then they will prescribe medication to prevent any possible blood clots.

11. Quantitative hCG

This is a pregnancy test called beta hCG.

When and Why is the Test Done?

HCG levels are indicative of pregnancy and done 7-10 days after a missed period. When pregnancy is failing, the levels are again monitored. If pregnancy is healthy, hCG levels will rise till 10-12 weeks after conception and then fall.

Who Should Take the Test?

Women who want to confirm their pregnancy.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

A test result of more than 5 indicates positive pregnancy. Men and non-pregnant women should have no hCG detected.

What’s Next?

Women with positive results will be monitored by the doctor for a few weeks to make sure that the pregnancy is healthy.

12. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

TSH secrete T3 and T4 thyroid hormones after stimulating the thyroid gland.

When and Why is the Test Done?

This test can be done anytime during your cycle when you are on fasting to check for thyroid disease.

Who Should Take the Test?

If you have irregular periods or if your doctor suspects something wrong with your thyroid gland, then you will have to take this test.

What Do the Test Results Mean?

High levels of TSH show that thyroid hormones are not produced (hypothyroidism) and cause weight gain, tiredness, and a cold feeling while low levels show hyperthyroidism causing weight loss, anxiety and feeling of being warm. Both can disrupt ovulation.

What’s Next?

Doctors will prescribe medication to regulate the thyroid levels in case of an underactive or overactive thyroid.

These tests are extremely useful if you find that you are taking a long time to get pregnant and can in many cases be a godsend to find out the root of the problem.

Also Read: Types of Female Fertility Tests

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