etting Pregnant and Fertility Testing: Post-Coital Tests
A post-coital test (PCT) is a type of fertility test that can help to determine the causes of infertility. Also known as a Sims-Huhner test after the physicians who invented it, a post-coital test can help to analyze for both male fertility problems and female fertility problems so that couples can receive necessary fertility treatment if needed in order to improve their chances of getting pregnant.
Cervical Mucous and Fertility
Cervical mucous is usually thick in texture in order to prevent infection. When ovulation occurs, the cervical mucous becomes thin and watery in order to allow the sperm to travel to the fallopian tubes in order to fertilize an egg so that pregnancy may occur. In cases where there are not fertility problems present, the sperm will not have any difficulty traveling through the cervical mucous.
While the usefulness of a post-coital test has been debated recently, it is still one of the most common fertility tests and as such can help to check for a variety of common fertility problems.
A PCT analyses cervical mucous, as well as the interaction between cervical mucous and sperm. If timed correctly, this fertility test can also help provide useful information regarding the adequacy of a woman’s cervical mucous production as well as the sperm’s ability to survive in cervical mucous. These factors can help to determine cervical mucous health and suitability for fertilisation, as well as information on sperm health. As such, a post-coital test can be an important tool in diagnosing fertility problems.
Preparing for a Post-Coital Test
Your health care provider will give you specific instructions with regard to preparing for a post-coital test. Some general guidelines to follow are:
- monitor your basal body temperature (BBT) in order to determine when ovulation will occur
- measure your luitenising hormones (LH) using a urine test to predict ovulation
- once you have determined that ovulation will be occurring, book an appointment for a post-coital test for the following day
- have intercourse 2 to 8 hours prior to your appointment
- be sure not to use any vaginal lubricants during sex and refrain from douching or tub bathing following intercourse
Post-Coital Test Procedure
A post-coital test is performed right around the time during the menstrual cycle when ovulation occurs and is very similar to a Pap smear test.
The cervical mucous is removed at 2 to 8 hours following intercourse. A sample of cervical mucous is removed from the cervix during a pelvic exam and is analyzed using a microscope. It is a painless procedure and is performed at your health care provider’s office.
Timing is crucial for a PCT because there are only a few days during the menstrual cycle during which sperm can survive the cervical mucous.
Post-Coital Test Results
You will receive the results from your post coital test within a day or two.
If your results are normal, the cervical mucous will have stretched a minimum of 2 inches and dried in a fern-like pattern. This means that cervical mucous and sperm health are good and that there should be no fertility issues at hand.
If your post-coital test results are abnormal, the cervical mucous will not have a stretched a minimum of 2 inches and will not have dried in a fern-like pattern. Abnormal test results mean that cervical mucous may not be allowing the sperm to enter the cervical mucous, thereby reducing the chances of getting pregnant. In addition, there may be a high amount of dead sperm or sperm clumping, meaning that treatment may be required in order to improve sperm health.