When pregnancy seems frustratingly out of reach, each period can leave you wondering if you might be unable to conceive. In many cases, even a doctor can't tell if a pregnancy is a complete impossibility. While there's no single test or screening that can definitively determine pregnancy chances, there are things your doctor can do to narrow down the underlying causes behind infertility.
Women under 35 can be declared infertile if they've been trying to conceive without success for a year. For women over 35, the cut off is six months. Even if a doctor gives you that bad news, you don't have to give up hope. It doesn't necessarily mean you can't get pregnant. Because infertility is a symptom, not a specific disease, sometimes the underlying causes resolve themselves without ever being identified.
Tests for Infertility
When you go in for a fertility assessment, your doctor will likely perform an ovulation assessment and an X-ray screening of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. If you're over 35, you might need tests to see how many eggs you have left. Your partner will need a semen analysis to ensure the problem isn't on his end. A doctor might also recommend hormone testing, a pelvic ultrasound or a genetic screening for both of you. In 15 to 30 percent of couples, no specific cause for infertility is identified, according to a 2008 report in "Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology."
Depending on your age and health, a doctor could recommend a medical intervention for an unexplained infertility. A small 2014 study published in the journal "Family Medicine" found 47 percent of its subjects conceived after actions such as intrauterine insemination, medically induced ovulation and in-vitro fertilization. It also found older women were more likely to require medical help than younger women. On the other hand, 11 percent of those subjects conceived naturally even after the infertile diagnosis.
Secondary infertility, which develops after a woman has conceived in the past, makes up about 30 percent of infertility diagnoses, according to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Some women can't conceive again simply due to aging. It's also possible that illnesses or injuries since the last pregnancy may prevent another. In some cases, injuries during the actual birth of one child can negatively impact a woman's future fertility. The medical process to find out if you can get pregnant again is the same as the one to determine if you can get pregnant at all.