In the cutting-edge world of modern medicine and, indeed, medical tourism, some of the most high-tech procedures of all are occurring in state-of-the-art fertility clinics. Unfortunately, they’re quite prevalent, as each year millions of women globally have difficulties becoming pregnant and must turn to advanced fertility treatments in attempts to conceive.
They therefore undergo treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), hormone drug regimens, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and receive coaching and counseling on their sex life and lifestyle that aim to increase the chances of conceiving.
Before resorting to these procedures, however, a diagnosis of infertility will have been made. This is arrived at by testing both women and men who, as a couple, have failed to produce a pregnancy after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse.
For a woman, common causes of infertility include ovulation problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), advanced maternal age, or inflammation of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus. Thankfully, there are a variety of reliable examinations performed in order to determine which one or ones are causing problems.
The first step is usually a comprehensive evaluation with her fertility specialist. This would include an extensive discussion of her medical and menstrual history, her sexual practices, her use of birth control and other medications, plus a pelvic exam, including Pap smear.
Next, several tests are used for truly determining whether she is infertile or not:
Ovulation testing confirms whether or not normal ovulation is occurring. Women will have their urine checked for hormones that should be elevated prior to ovulation, blood tests done, and temperature charts made – since body temperature should rise just after ovulation.
Ovarian function tests look for how well, or unwell, hormones like estrogen – which helps regulate the menstrual cycle – are functioning. An ultrasound may be used to determine the amount and quality of eggs in a woman’s ovaries.
Luteal phase testing checks progesterone, a hormone which affects menstrual periods and is needed for successful implantation of a fertilized egg inside the uterus. If the level is low, there are various supplements and even creams that women may use to increase it.
Hormone tests are fairly self-explanatory and are used to detect the levels of a wide array of hormones that play important roles in becoming pregnant. Some tests can show the remaining fertility opportunities for a woman, or even if she will ovulate in a particular month.
Hysterosalpinogram, or HSG, involves X-rays which can reveal blockages in the fallopian tubes from infection or scarring, and defects in the uterus such as polyps or tumors.
Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery whereby a small camera is inserted into the abdomen to look for problems such as endometriosis, a condition where cells that normally line the uterus appear outside of it, causing a variety of conditions that can impede pregnancy.
As for the costs of treatment once a diagnosis of infertility has been made, they can run into the tens of thousands of dollars in the West. Thankfully, health-travel hotspots like Singapore, Thailand and the Czech Republic provide excellent savings with high levels of quality.
Reputable medical tourism facilitators can ensure that you have all the necessary information should you opt for fertility procedures abroad, which are not just for women. Stay tuned for our look at fertility testing in men in our next post.