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In Vitro Fertilization Procedures
Most people who are having fertility difficulties have heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF). And most people understand it on a basic level—that it is artificial insemination that is done in a laboratory. But, there is much more to it than that. In vitro fertilization was first attempted in...

Getting An Endometrial Biopsy To Test Fertility

Endometrial Biopsy TestInfertility is a complicated issue, one with many causes. When a couple is having difficulty conceiving, the problem could be on the side of the woman, on the side of the man—or, it could be a problem involving both members of the couple. The only way to know is to have a doctor run some tests.

One test that many doctors choose to do is called an endometrial biopsy. The word ‘biopsy’ probably sounds scary, as most people associate that word with cancer testing. But this test is nothing of which to be afraid. It is a simple test that is done right in the doctor’s office. No surgery involved, not even any incisions. The woman may feel a little bit of cramping afterwards, similar to menstrual cramping, but that is all. The procedure needs to be done a few days before the woman begins her menstrual period.

An endometrial biopsy is a test in which the doctor removes a sample of the woman’s endometrial lining in order for it to be closely examined. The endometrial lining is the uterine lining, and the condition of this is critical to the implantation of a fertilized egg and to the success of a continuing pregnancy. This lining, also called the endometrium, is sent to a laboratory where it is examined under a microscope. The pathologist will look for any abnormalities in the cells as well as any indications of pathology.

The actual procedure of an endometrial biopsy is similar to a pap smear. The woman lies down on an examination table and places her feet in the stirrups. Then, the doctor will insert a speculum and then a clamp on the cervix to hold it steady. Next he will insert a pipelle, which is a thin, narrow which looks like a drinking straw. The center of the pipelle has a wire, which the doctor pulls. As he pulls, it creates suction. This suction is used to draw out the endometrial cells from the uterus. The doctor may need to push and pull the wire back and forth a few times to get enough of a sample to be tested. The complete endometrial biopsy lasts only about 10 minutes.

As mentioned above, there are not many risks to having this test done, other than possibly some cramping. In some women, the cramping can last for a day or two, on and off. Some women may have a small amount of vaginal bleeding. Many doctors advise against having intercourse if the woman is bleeding. The only other possible risk is not very likely. A very small percentage of women might get pelvic inflammatory disease resulting from bacteria from the procedure. This is highly unlikely, though, as most doctors take great care in their sterilization procedures.

Because the endometrial cells have to be examined by a pathologist, the results of this fertility test are not instantaneous. It usually takes anywhere from four days to two weeks for the doctor to get the results—the amount of time depends upon the laboratory the doctor uses.

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