Unexplained fertility simply means that no medical explanation can be ascertained for why you are having fertility issues. There are two groups of people who usually get diagnosed with this frustrating problem: those couples who are simply unlucky, and don't have any biological problems interfering with pregnancy; and those couples who do have a medical reason for infertility, but this reason cannot be found due to insufficient medical knowledge or technology. Whatever group you fall into, a diagnosis of unexplained fertility is sure to be difficult.
Unexplained infertility is fairly common. Up to 20% of couples who visit a fertility clinic for treatment receive a diagnosis of unexplained fertility.
Diagnosing unexplained infertility is by no means an easy process. It tends to be a diagnosis based on exclusion. Your reproductive endocrinologist will examine you and perform a variety of tests to try to determine exactly what is going on. You may be said to have unexplained fertility if:
- you are ovulating normally
- your fallopian tubes are open and healthy
- you have no pelvic adhesions
- you do not have endometriosis
- All hormone levels and blood tests are within normal ranges
- Sperm parameters are normal
Also the frequency of intercourse and for how long you have been trying to conceive should be taken into account.
Treating Unexplained Infertility
If you receive a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, there is no reason to give up hope. There is still a good chance that you will get pregnant on your own, without any fertility treatments. In fact, your chances of getting pregnant within three years are over 30%.
Fertility treatments can be used to help increase your chances of getting pregnant, even if your reproductive endocrinologist has been unable to find the source of your infertility problems. Here are some treatments that you may wish to consider.
If your ovulation cycle is irregular, fertility drugs can often assist in regulating this. Fertility drugs may also be used to assist with the development of two or three follicles per ovulatory cycle.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves a laboratory procedure to separate fast moving sperm from more sluggish or non-moving sperm.
The fast moving sperm are then placed into the woman’s uterus close to the time of ovulation when the egg is released from the ovary in the middle of the monthly cycle.
The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
In-vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is an acronym for in vitro fertilization ('in vitro' meaning 'in glass'). Simply put IVF is adding a man's sperm to his female partners eggs in the laboratory to produce embryos.
In vitro fertilization is an option for many couples who cannot conceive through conventional therapies. These embryos are transferred into the female partner's uterus after 2 to 6 days of being in the incubator, hopefully a viable pregnancy will result.