Unexplained Infertility

What is Unexplained Infertility

Infertility broadly refers to failure to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse. There are myriad reasons for infertility; however, approximately 10-15% of infertile couples are diagnosed with unexplained infertility. That diagnosis doesn’t mean that there’s nothing causing infertility – it just means that doctors are unable to identify the reason behind it.

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How is Unexplained Infertility Diagnosed?

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The fact is, standard infertility testing hardly scratches the surface when you consider all that must occur to bring about a successful pregnancy. The science behind fertility is complex, including hundreds of biochemical and molecular changes that must go off perfectly if a pregnancy is to develop. When physicians run standard infertility tests, they are really only looking at the most obvious factors, such as ovulation problems, blocked tubes or low sperm count.

When a couple has failed to conceive, fertility specialists will generally run tests according to the guidelines published by the ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine). The standard infertility evaluation typically includes:

1. Male assessment

This includes evaluation of the male’s history, physical examination and semen analysis. Physicians will search for elements that may be causing infertility including testicular abnormalities, sexual dysfunction, drug and/or alcohol use, and sperm count and motility.

2. Ovulation assessment

The woman will be evaluated for menstrual abnormalities or disturbances that may indicate an underlying cause of infertility, such as thyroid disease or PCOS.

3. Ovarian reserve assessment

Women who are at an advanced reproductive age or those who have had ovarian surgery may need to be evaluated for diminished ovarian function or reserve.

4. HSG assessment

The uterus and fallopian tubes are analyzed for potential fibroids, polyps or other abnormalities that may be causing infertility.

5. Laparoscopy

In select cases, a visual examination of the pelvic reproductive anatomy is also performed. This may identify contributing factors such as endometriosis or pelvic adhesion.

If tests fail to produce any inherent reason behind the couple’s inability to conceive, the couple will likely be diagnosed with unexplained infertility.

If Infertility is “Unexplained” How Can it be Treated?

Because unexplained infertility doesn’t have a determined cause, treatment can be very much a trial-and-error process. The primary treatments for a couple with unexplained infertility typically include clomiphene citrate and intrauterine insemination (IUI), expectant observation with timed intercourse, controlled ovarian stimulation with intrauterine insemination, and in some cases, in vitro fertilization.

When the couple is young, and the risk of egg depletion is low, expectant management is generally the lowest-cost option and may prove successful. This option does typically see the lowest success rates though.

In vitro fertilization is the most popular and most successful treatment for unexplained infertility; however, it is also the most expensive. IVF is typically a last-resort option when other treatments have failed to bring results.

Of note, however, many couples are looking outside of the traditional medical world for solutions to unexplained infertility. Many, in fact, are finding that simple lifestyle changes along with a number of natural resources have brought the long-desired results – without drugs, surgery, or expensive infertility treatments.

Making lifestyle changes to aspects like cigarette smoking, caffeine and alcohol consumption, and body mass index (losing/gaining weight as needed for a healthy BMI), have proven to increase fertility in couples who were previously unable to conceive. In addition, many couples are finding surprising success through modern alternative medicine along with holistic and ancient Chinese techniques like those promoted by specialist and consultant Lisa Olson in her book “Pregnancy Miracle”.

In conclusion, a diagnosis of unexplained infertility does not spell the end in your quest for children of your own. There are many treatment options available to you, and while it may take a little longer to conceive, pregnancy
is certainly attainable.

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2 Responses to Unexplained Infertility

  1. Ella on January 13, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Jennifer,

    My husband and I have been trying to conceive for some time now, but no luck. We’re both young and relatively healthy, and we’ve opted for a natural route to fertility. The thing is, we’ve tried a number of homeopathic or natural solutions and nothing seems to be working. What’s going on? Could you explain a little more on how a plan like Lisa Olson’s would help us get pregnant?

  2. Jennifer Myers on January 25, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Sure Ella, if I can,

    Many people are under the impression that a single herb or product will “cure” infertility. The truth is, there’s no magic bullet that will bring on pregnancy – synthetic or homeopathic.

    Conventional fertility drugs or treatments take a “band-aid” approach, trying to solve the symptoms without ever dealing with the root cause. Homeopathic or natural approaches like those promoted by Lisa Olson are aimed at overall healing. Natural techniques for dealing with infertility take a multi-level approach, involving homeopathic remedies along with lifestyle changes, fertility nutrition and fertility charting. This overall approach is what will increase fertility in both the male and female.

    Since the natural approach deals with whole-body healing, it may take a little longer to see the results you’re after – especially if you need to lose weight or if you have underlying conditions causing your apparent infertility. In the end though, the natural route can not only treat the symptoms, but can reverse infertility by getting at the root cause.

    Hoping this helps,

    Jennifer