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The A – Z Of Ultrasound Scans For Fertility Testing And Treatment

Ultrasound Scans

An Ultrasound Scans is an essential element of infertility testing and fertility care. Abdominal ultrasounds are the most common type of ultrasound performed during the middle and late stages of pregnancy. Most ultrasounds are done during fertility testing and fertility treatment are done transvaginally. A thin wand-shaped device covered with plastic or latex (condom) would be lubricated and inserted into the vagina. It may sound scary, but the procedure is quick (around 15 minutes), safe to do and painless.

Infertility Ultrasound

During infertility procedures, ultrasounds reveal information about the ovaries, endometrial lining, and uterus. Ultrasound is used during fertility therapy to monitor the development of follicles in the ovaries as well as the thickness of the endometrial lining. During IVF, it can also be used to guide the needle through the vaginal wall to the ovaries for egg retrieval. A transvaginal ultrasound is an inexpensive pregnancy procedure that can help detect complications early in the recovery process.

What Ultrasounds See

Here is what your fertility doctor assesses with an infertility ultrasound

  • Uterus
  • Position and Presence of Reproductive Organs
  • Ovaries
  • Endometrium
  • Blood Flow
  • Adhesions
  • Fallopian Tubes
  • Antral Follicle Count

What Usually Occurs During an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound system creates representations of the inside of the body using high-frequency sound waves. Ultrasound scans are healthy because the scanner uses sound waves or echoes to represent the image instead of radiation. A transducer is a system used during an ultrasound that produces and absorbs high-frequency sound waves. The patient is asked to drink plenty of water before the abdominal ultrasound to make it easier to see the reproductive organ because a full bladder pushes the intestines out.

The sonographer (the person doing the ultrasound) will likely give the patient the transducer rod and instruct her to insert it as far into the vagina as she can safely. The transducer emits sound waves that travel through soft tissue and bodily fluids and bounce (or echo) to create an impression of the inside. The frequency range of ultrasound is 2-18 megahertz (MHz). Higher frequencies have improved image quality, but cannot penetrate as deeply as lower frequencies because they are absorbed by other tissues.

Ultrasound of other types

Other advanced ultrasound scans available to patients include antral follicle count ultrasound, 3D ultrasound, sonohysterogram, and hysterosalpingo-contrast ultrasound (HyCoSy)

Antral Follicle Count Ultrasound

The transvaginal ultrasound unit is used to perform antral follicle count ultrasound, which is performed by a specially trained technician.

3D Ultrasound

3D ultrasound allows 3D images that help in the detection of uterine defects and other difficulties that are not identified in  2D ultrasound scans.

Sonohysterogram

A sonohysterogram is a form of ultrasound. A catheter is used to deliver a saline solution into the uterus. The uterus is filled with saline, making it easy to see the outline and the adhesions (abnormal bands of scar tissue that connect the organs) inside.

Hysterosalpingo-contrast ultrasound (HyCoSy)

The dye or saline solution is combined with air bubbles to decide whether the fallopian tubes are open or blocked on hysterosalpingo-contrast ultrasound (HyCoSy), which is similar to sonohysterography. Although a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a more popular method for evaluating the fallopian tubes, the HyCoSy is less invasive and does not require radiation or exposure to iodine.

What Can’t an Ultrasound Examine?

Ultrasound can not diagnose or rule out the following

  • Blocked fallopian tubes: A basic ultrasound, except for the hysterosalpingo contrast ultrasound (HyCoSy), cannot test the fallopian tubes.
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis can only be diagnosed with laparoscopic surgery.
  • While severe endometriosis can sometimes be seen on ultrasound, moderate and less severe cases are usually not visible.
  • Some uterine abnormalities: a general ultrasound is unable to detect or diagnose such uterine abnormalities. To fully assess the uterus, a sonohysterography or more invasive hysteroscopy may be necessary.

Ultrasound Scans During Fertility Treatment

Ultrasounds are an important part of pregnancy as  they can be used at different times and for multiple purposes to know the health and condition of the baby inside the fetus.

If you are visiting a regular OB / GYN, the ultrasound is not commonly used to track Clomid cycles, but it can be used if you are visiting a fertility clinic. Ultrasound is often used to track gonadotropin cycles and is always used during periods of IVF treatment.

Here are some more explanations why ultrasound is used during IVF.

Baseline Ultrasound Scan

During the first few days of your menstrual cycle, your doctor may contact you to schedule blood tests and an ultrasound. It is a baseline pelvic fertility ultrasound used to look for irregular cysts on the ovaries to decide whether fertility treatments can be started during this period or postponed until the next.

Follicle Growth

You are expected to return to the clinic regularly for ultrasounds scans to check your follicles. The fertility drugs prescribed to you are primarily determined by the development of your follicles. Depending on the treatment and the number of mature follicles, you may be scheduled for egg extraction, or the period may be cancelled if the number is too high.

Measuring Endometrial Thickness

It is significant to watch for changes in the uterine endometrium during your treatment period. The technician will also check your endometrial thickness, and the doctor may adjust your drug doses to ensure a successful cycle after testing your endometrial thickness.

Ultrasound-Guided Procedures

In addition to follow-up, ultrasound is often used to direct certain treatments, such as embryo transfer and egg retrieval for IVF, in which a needle is used to remove eggs from the ovaries.

Ultrasounds are an essential part of fertility treatment. These tests are used to track ovulation, the thickness, and pattern of your uterine lining, and to diagnose conditions such as endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, and the presence of pelvic masses. These scans are crucial because they will ensure a healthy delivery.

Worried about your doubts regarding Ultrasound scanning for Fertility testing, Come to Bump2Baby and let our experts help you.

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