Can An Ultrasound Detect Fertility Problems?
Fertility struggles aren’t as uncommon as you might think. Around one in seven couples can have difficulty conceiving — but fertility testing could help solve their problems.
Many different types of fertility tests can be done. Blood and semen analyses are some of the most common, as they can reveal much of what is happening in your body. An ultrasound can also be performed, but how well can an ultrasound detect fertility problems? Find out more at IVF Matters.
What causes fertility problems?
Fertility problems don’t always mean infertility, and treatment can often lead to a successful pregnancy.
Fertility problems in women can have several causes, including:
- Health conditions that impact your reproductive system, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis
- An overactive or underactive thyroid
- Premature ovarian failure where the ovaries stop working prematurely
- Fibroids – non-cancerous growths that can block the fallopian tube or prevent an egg from attaching to the womb
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Medication side effects – long-term use or high doses of certain medications can make it difficult to conceive
- Cancer treatment – chemotherapy can sometimes cause ovarian failure
- Cervical mucus – the mucus in the cervix needs to be thin for sperm to swim through it and fertilise the egg, but problems with it can prevent this from happening
Signs of fertility problems
The most obvious sign that you may have fertility problems is that you aren’t able to fall pregnant. However, there are other signs that you may have issues with your fertility.
These can include:
- Irregular or absent periods
- Very heavy periods
- Multiple miscarriages
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, speaking with a fertility specialist can be the first step to finding a solution.
How is infertility diagnosed?
Testing your fertility can be done in several ways; each test looks at something different. A doctor or clinician can diagnose infertility with one or more tests and draw up a fertility treatment plan.
Types of fertility tests include:
- Blood tests – to analyse your hormones and general health for anything immediately abnormal.
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests – checked for during fertility testing as they can affect your ability to conceive. These may be detected by swabbing the cervix or a urine test
- Scans – typically ultrasound scans that look at the reproductive system to check for abnormalities
Other tests may be performed at different clinics, but these are the most used tests, as they evaluate the entire body and help pinpoint specific abnormalities.
Can an ultrasound detect fertility problems?
Clinics can use ultrasound scans to detect fertility problems, getting you onto the right path for treatment.
During a fertility ultrasound, a sonographer will check the ovaries, womb and fallopian tubes to pick up conditions like fibroids and PCOS.
An ultrasound scan can also spot any blockages in the fallopian tubes that may prevent conception and the eggs from travelling to the womb. The scan can also reveal your uterus in much more detail, including your ovarian reserves and endometrial lining — both of which need to function to conceive naturally.
Each different type of ultrasound is very accurate when diagnosing fertility problems as they relay clear images back to the fertility specialist for analysis.
What happens during an ultrasound?
A medical sonographer will perform the ultrasound. The type of ultrasound you need may vary.
A transvaginal ultrasound is an internal type of scan performed with a unique wand inserted into the vagina. The images are relayed onto a screen for the doctor to analyse.
Other ultrasound scans are performed by pressing the wand onto the lower abdomen.
All types of ultrasound will require a lubricating gel to ensure you’re as comfortable as you can be.
What to expect on the day
On the day of your ultrasound, the clinic will ask you to drink a lot of water, which will help to bloat the bladder and give a clearer view of your reproductive system.
You may be asked to remove or lower the bottom half of your clothing.
An ultrasound isn’t painful, but a transvaginal ultrasound can be uncomfortable. However, the scan won’t last longer than 15 minutes.
When it comes to your scan results, you may receive a possible diagnosis on the same day. But should the scan reveal that further testing is required, you may have to undergo further fertility tests.
Fertility ultrasound at IVF Matters
At IVF Matters, we offer many different fertility ultrasound scans for women.
- 3D saline scan – determines the overall health of your uterus before pregnancy
- Ovarian reserve scan – uses ultrasound imaging to understand your ovarian function so you know when to try and conceive or whether you should freeze your eggs. It includes an antral follicle count, also known as an egg sac count, helping doctors predict the number of eggs likely to be retrieved after ovarian stimulation
- Monitoring scans – used while you’re taking ovarian stimulating medication to check that the egg sacs are developing properly. We can check the thickness and quality of the womb lining to ensure it is suitable for frozen embryo transfer treatment.
You can find a full list of our fertility ultrasounds here.
Fertility isn’t always straightforward, but the testing we provide at IVF Matters helps make it easy for you. The range of tests we provide, including ultrasounds, can lead to diagnosis and treatment — which could get you on the right track to becoming a parent.
To check your fertility with an ultrasound, book a free consultation with our fertility specialists at IVF Matters. They’ll be happy to discuss which ultrasound is right for you, and how we can support your fertility journey.