Understanding Pregnancy and Fertility Tests
If you are a woman who thinks she may be pregnant or is trying to become pregnant, knowing the details about pregnancy and fertility testing can make the experience a smoother and less stressful one. Here we'll go over some of the most commonly asked questions about these tests to help you understand the various of pregnancy test types available today, as well as fertility test types and procedures.
How does a pregnancy test work?
Pregnancy tests are available in two basic types; Urine tests and blood tests. Both look for a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to determine whether a woman tests pregnant. This hormone is produced by the placenta after a fertilized egg has become an embryo, made its journey through the fallopian tubes to the uterus, and attached itself to the uterine lining – the beginning of a pregnancy. It then builds up in the system very rapidly over the next few days and is present in both blood and urine.
Measures multiple hormone levels to assess ovarian and thyroid function
Measures multiple hormone levels to assess ovarian and thyroid function. This package also contains STD testing to create a completed women's fertility package.
Used to determine blood group (A, B, AB, or O) and Rh type (positive or negative)
This test measures the level of AMH in the body.
Detects chlamydia in a urine sample
Detects chlamydia and gonorrhea in a urine sample
Measures the level of the DHEA sulfate hormone to assess adrenal function
Measures the level of estradiol to help assess fertility
Measures the level of estradiol with increased sensitivity for men and post-menopausal women
Measures the amount of estrogen hormones to help assess fertility
Measures the amount of folate (folic acid) to screen for nutrition or absorption issues and certain types of anemia
Measures the level of FSH, a hormone that affects reproduction
Measures FSH and LH to help assess fertility
Detects gonorrhea in a urine sample
Detects antibodies to the virus that causes genital herpes
Detects antibodies and antigens to help diagnose HIV
Measures luteinizing hormone (LH) to help assess fertility
Measures the level of hCG in the blood to confirm pregnancy and determine gestational weeks
Measures the level of hCG in the urine to confirm pregnancy
Measures the level of progesterone to help assess fertility
Measures prolactin, a hormone important during pregnancy and while breastfeeding
Detects antibodies to the bacteria that causes syphilis
Measures the amount of freely circulating triiodothyronine (T3) to evaluate thyroid function
Detects antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii
Detects trichomonas in a urine sample
Urine tests detect hCG in urine samples, and are available at doctors' offices, from a medical testing laboratory or over-the-counter as home pregnancy test kits. The procedure for these tests, both home tests and lab tests, may involve dipping a test strip into a urine sample or exposing it to a woman's urine stream. The time it takes for results to become clear varies from one test to another, but is generally about 5 minutes for most. Those results may be the development of a colored line or a color change on the test strip when hCG is detected.
Blood tests detect hCG in the bloodstream. They are typically more sensitive than urine tests, and come in two basic types. One type simply looks for the presence of hCG in the blood to confirm pregnancy, while the other measures the amount of this hormone found in the blood. Both require a blood draw, typically from the arm, to obtain a blood sample for testing, and women usually receive a result within a day or two.
How soon can a blood test detect pregnancy?
Blood tests can be used to detect pregnancy quite early in the pregnancy period. In many cases, a blood test can detect hCG in the blood as early as two days before women would normally expect their menstrual periods to begin. However, to ensure the highest level of reliability in your test results, waiting until 10 days after a missed period to have your blood tested is recommended.
How do you test your fertility?
If you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for 12 months or longer, or more than 6 months if you are over the age of 35, checking for fertility issues may be warranted. Testing fertility generally begins with a thorough exam and/or medical imaging by a fertility specialist to rule out any health concerns or problems with reproductive organs, including the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes that could interfere with conception or pregnancy.
Then, a series of tests may be performed on you and your partner. Women will typically have testing to evaluate whether or not they are ovulating regularly and check levels of vital reproductive hormones. For men, semen and/or sperm may be analyzed to determine fertility levels.
How much does it cost to get a fertility test?
Costs for fertility testing vary widely according to a number of factors. These include the specific tests you need and whether lab tests or ordered through a doctor or are purchased directly through a health testing service. According to CostHelper Health, costs for fertility testing in the U.S. range from around $50 to about $200 for basic infertility lab tests, but may rise to as much as $5000 if your doctor recommends more invasive testing.
What tests can be done for fertility?
Female fertility testing commonly includes the following tests, according to individual needs:
- Ovulation testing – This typically includes blood tests that evaluate levels of hormones associated with ovulation, such as luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone, prolactin, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Women may also be asked to use test kits at home to track whether or when they have ovulated.
- Ovarian reserve tests – These tests help determine how many eggs a woman has available for ovulation, as well as their level of health and viability.
- Other hormone tests – Other hormones that are often tested to evaluate fertility include thyroid and pituitary hormones, as well as estradiol, total estrogen, Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) and DHEA, among others.
- Imaging tests – These may include X-rays and ultrasounds, among others, to evaluate reproductive health.
More invasive testing is relatively uncommon, but may include laparoscopy, which is a minor surgery to examine reproductive organs, biopsies of tissues taken from uterus and/or fallopian tubes, and genetic testing.
Male fertility testing generally includes:
- Semen analysis – Evaluates the quality and quantity of semen to assess fertility.
- Hormone testing – Evaluate levels of testosterone and other male hormones.
How does a woman's fertility test work?
Imaging tests will be arranged by your doctor and performed in an imaging center, clinic or hospital. Blood tests done to assess fertility in women begin with a blood draw to take a blood sample for testing. If tests are ordered through your doctor's office, the sample will likely be taken in that office, then shipped to a lab. Results will be sent to your doctor to be relayed to you. Should you choose to purchase tests directly from Health Testing Center, blood samples will be taken at a local testing facility and the results will be delivered directly to you.