Catholic Health Infertility

When you’re trying to become pregnant, don't lose hope if it doesn't happen right away. It can take up to a year for a fertile couple to conceive. Couples under the age of 35 generally see an infertility specialist after one year of regular, unprotected sex.

Women may be seen earlier than a year if any one of the following is true:

  • They are over the age of 35 and have not conceived after 3-6 months.
  • They are over the age of 40.
  • They have irregular menstrual periods.
  • They have been diagnosed with a condition that is known to impact fertility, such as endometriosis or PCOS.
  • They have had a miscarriage.
  • They have been treated for cancer.

Men may be seen earlier if they:

  • have a low sperm count
  • have swelling in the scrotum
  • have had a vasectomy
  • have been treated for cancer

Sometimes, infertility may be caused by incorrect timing or abnormal ovulation patterns. Natural family planning can teach you how to recognize when you are fertile and when sex is most likely to result in pregnancy. Learn more about Natural Family Planning.

Making an Appointment for an Evaluation

If you think that you may be infertile and currently have an OB/GYN, please speak with him or her, as your doctor may have a specialized knowledge of infertility and can share options that could improve your odds of becoming pregnant.

After you’ve talked with your provider, if you would like to seek out a sub-specialist in fertility, you may make an appointment at our infertility center. Your gynecologist or urologist can also refer you to a specialist, if needed.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Before your first appointment, you may be asked:

  • When did you start trying to conceive?
  • How often do you have sex?
  • Do you test or monitor for ovulation?
  • What vitamins, medicines and supplements do you take?
  • How often do you drink alcohol or caffeine?
  • Do you smoke (cigarettes or other types of tobacco)?
  • Have you been treated for any medical conditions?
  • Are you frequently exposed to chemicals, pesticides, radiation or lead?

Women will also be asked when they started menstruating, the length of their cycles and if they have ever been pregnant.

You may want to keep a log of any items above so that they are readily available at your appointment.

Testing for the Causes of Infertility

Tests for both men and women can help to uncover the cause of infertility. In some cases, no cause can be found – this is called unexplained infertility

An infertility assessment usually begins with physical exams, blood tests and a semen analysis. Advanced semen analysis is available in Western New York through Dr. Lani Burkman, an andrologist at LifeCell Dx who specializes in male reproductive tests.

Tests for Men and Women

  • Physical Exam
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests can detect hormone levels and if women are ovulating.
  • Ultrasounds: Ultrasounds look for abnormalities. In women, an ultrasound can monitor the follicles in the ovaries to determine a woman’s fertility potential.
  • Genetic Testing: Genetic testing identifies if a genetic defect is causing infertility. It is often performed using a blood test.

Tests for Men

  • Sperm and Semen Analysis: Semen analysis measures the amount and quality of sperm produced. If the first semen analysis is normal, a second test may be ordered to confirm the results. Two normal tests usually mean that there are no major infertility problems.
  • Testicular Biopsy: A biopsy examines a sample of tissue from the testicle under a microscope. It may be ordered if a man’s sperm does not contain semen and hormonal tests are normal.

Tests for Women

  • Hysterosalpingography: This procedure uses an X-ray to examine the condition of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
  • Ovarian Reserve Testing: This test is performed to evaluate the quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs.
  • Laparoscopy: This minimally invasive surgery examines the fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.

Treating Infertility

Your treatment will be based on the condition that causes your infertility.

  • If you are not ovulating, ovulation may be induced using fertility drugs. This process is called ovulation induction.
  • If your cervical mucus is too thick for the sperm to travel to the fallopian tubes, it may be thinned with medication. 

If surgery is required, most surgical treatments allow you to go home the same day, with no hospital stay required.

  • If you have had your tubes tied, tubal ligation reversal may reverse the process.
  • If you have a blockage in the fallopian tubes, it may be cleared with a procedure called tubal cannulation.
  • If you have scar tissue that divides the uterus in two, called a uterine septum, it can be surgically removed. 
  • If you have fibroids in the uterus, they can be removed in a procedure known as a myomectomy.

Surgery may also be recommended to treat abnormalities, such as endometriosis or adhesions.

Insurance Coverage

Not all insurance plans cover the cost of infertility treatment and testing. Contact your insurance company to understand what cost you will be responsible for, if any.