What tests should I have before I try to conceive?

Dr. Benjamin Sandler, MD
Fertility Specialist

If you have not previously had these tests, a hematocrit to check for anemia, a rubella titer to check for immunity to rubella, and other blood tests can be performed. A thorough family history and blood tests for genetic diseases (Cystic Fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, etc.) may be indicated.

Dr. Jennifer A. Kalich, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Several tests may help gauge a patient's fertility potential, also known as ovarian reserve:

  • Day 3 levels of FSH and estradiol: Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone released from the brain that triggers egg development by the ovary. Estradiol is the hormone produced by the ovary as the egg develops. Patients with an elevated estradiol and/or FSH level on the third day of a menstrual cycle have poor pregnancy rates with both ovulation induction and in vitro fertilization.
  • Clomiphene citrate challenge test (CCT): The day three FSH and estradiol levels may be normal in patients with decreased ovarian reserve. The CCT is another test to more thoroughly evaluate fertility potential. Clomiphene citrate is a medication given orally on menstrual days five through nine. Estradiol and FSH are measured on day three and day 10 of the cycle. Elevated blood levels of these hormones are associated with very low pregnancy rates with fertility treatment.
  • Response to fertility medications: The response to injectable high-dose fertility medications is another method for determining ovarian reserve. Patients with decreased ovarian reserve require larger amounts of medication to produce eggs and generally have lower pregnancy rates with ovulation induction and in vitro fertilization. Egg donation is an option for those patients who do not conceive with other therapies or have abnormal ovarian reserve testing. Egg donation involves using eggs donated by another woman. Patients may provide a donor (typically a sister or close friend) or an anonymous donor may be provided.

If you are not pregnant yet, you can help your chances for having a healthy baby by planning ahead. Schedule a pre-pregnancy checkup. At this visit, you can talk to your doctor about the medicines, vitamins and herbs you use. You can also ask them what lab tests you should have done. It is very important that you keep treating your health problems while you are pregnant. Your doctor can tell you if you need to switch your medicine. Ask about vitamins for women who are trying to get pregnant. All women who can get pregnant should take a daily vitamin with folic acid (a B vitamin) to prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. You should begin taking these vitamins before you become pregnant or if you could become pregnant. It is also a good idea to discuss caffeine, alcohol and smoking with your doctor at this time.

This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.

Both partners should have prenatal blood tests, including those for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, a rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test for syphilis, rubella titer (German measles immunity) and a blood type evaluation. Women should be immunized against rubella at least one month before they start trying to have a family.

Talk to your physician about cystic fibrosis screenings; detection of this defective gene is now available to all couples.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

Prenatal screening tests look at both the baby's and the mother's health. Tests that screen for genetic disorders with the baby include sequential maternal serum screening, sometimes called triple-marker or quad-marker. These are done in the early second trimester then repeated later in the second trimester to increase accuracy. Another screening test for the baby is the newer non-invasive cell-free DNA testing done on the mother's blood anytime after 10 weeks of gestation. The baby is also screened for anatomic malformations with ultrasound between 18-20 weeks gestation.

Screening tests for mother's health, that can affect the health of the baby, include a loading dose of glucose to test for diabetes, done in the second trimester, and a culture for group B strep bacteria done around week 36.

Prior to becoming pregnant it's important to take a pre-natal vitamin. If possible, get a physical by your physician so you know your state of health. Your physician can also recommend other tests that may need to be done prior to conceiving. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight are also important.

The general recommendations for any woman planning a pregnancy are:

  • Have a rubella lab test done.
  • Start taking multivitamins with folic acid and calcium.
  • Stop smoking, alcohol and drugs.
  • Involve your husband or partner in the planning.
  • Receive genetic counseling (optional).

Continue Learning about Prior To Conception

What should I discuss with my OBGYN if I plan to get pregnant?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
Update your immunizations, particularly chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, and influenza (seaso...
More Answers
What will my doctor check during a pre-pregnancy exam if I have diabetes?
American Diabetes AssociationAmerican Diabetes Association
Because you have diabetes, you need special care and advice from your diabetes doctor, nurse and hea...
More Answers
How Soon After Having My Lap Band Removed Can I Try to Get Pregnant?
How Soon After Having My Lap Band Removed Can I Try to Get Pregnant?
4 Natural Fertility Boosters to Help You Get Pregnant
4 Natural Fertility Boosters to Help You Get Pregnant

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.