Lab tests are a valuable assessment tool. They allow the clinician a behind-the scenes look at the functional metabolism of the patient, providing both an initial diagnosis and a benchmark for measuring the success of a treatment plan. In the world of fertility, lab tests are a common language shared by different practitioners. While the topic may at first appear complicated, with a little time and familiarity the alphabet soup begins to sort itself into a discernible pattern.
Let us consider what is needed in order to conceive: sperm, eggs, open fallopian tubes, and a healthy uterine environment. Age is the one factor that affects fertility for all women. The most important task of the fertility specialist is to assist patients in maximizing their window of opportunity. The ability to spot red flags in a patient’s work-up will allow the practitioner to effectively guide the patient in considering the most appropriate options in a timely fashion. Red flags include male fertility factor (poor sperm), diminished ovarian reserve (an indicator of both potential egg quantity and quality), blocked fallopian tubes, an impaired uterine environment, and any other significant metabolic or hormonal imbalances that may interfere with one’s fertility.