Information for the public

Tests for women

A woman's fertility declines with age. This means that the chances of getting pregnant, both naturally and through fertility treatment, fall as you get older. Your GP should give you more information about this.

Your GP should ask you how often and how regular your periods are. If you have regular monthly periods (every 26 to 36 days), you are likely to be ovulating. You should not be advised to use charts of your body temperature (known as basal body temperature) to check whether you are ovulating normally, as they are not a reliable test for this.

Checking your hormone levels

You should be offered blood tests to check your hormone levels to see if you are ovulating. These may include a test to measure a hormone called progesterone, which is produced by the ovaries after the egg is released. The timing of the test will vary depending on how regular your periods are.

If your periods are irregular, you should also be offered a test to measure hormones called gonadotrophins, which stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs.

Checking your ovaries

You may also be offered tests to see how well your ovaries might respond to fertility drugs. This involves either a blood test to measure levels of hormones (called follicle-stimulating hormone and anti-Müllerian hormone) or an ultrasound scan to count the number of follicles in your ovaries.

Checking your fallopian tubes

When the results of your tests and your partner's semen test are known, you may also be offered an examination to see whether your fallopian tubes are blocked. Depending on your circumstances and medical history, this might be done using X‑rays, ultrasound, or by an operation called a laparoscopy. Before you have this procedure, you should be tested for an infection called chlamydia. Chlamydia can damage your fallopian tubes if it is not diagnosed and treated with antibiotics. If you are infected, you and your partner (or partners) should be referred for treatment. If you do not have tests for chlamydia, you may be offered antibiotics before the procedure as a precaution in case you do have the infection.

Tests you should not be offered

You should not normally be offered the following tests because they have not been shown to be helpful:

  • tests of your cervical mucus after sexual intercourse (known as a post‑coital test)

  • a blood test to measure levels of a hormone called prolactin

  • a biopsy (a procedure to take a small sample of tissue) of the lining of your womb

  • an examination of your womb, called a hysteroscopy (in some circumstances your doctor may need to perform a hysteroscopy but it will be carried out as part of your laparoscopy).

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