About one in five couples end up receiving a diagnosis of unexplained infertility. This diagnosis is often disheartening because it usually means that there is no obvious reason that would keep you from conceiving. In other words, we haven’t found anything wrong, but it also means we still haven’t identified a reason why you aren’t conceiving as expected. Essentially, unexplained infertility is when you receive a diagnosis by the elimination of certain factors we are able to test for.
For men we check:
- Sperm count
- Sperm shape
- Sperm motility
- Hormone levels
For women we check:
- Ovarian function
- The fallopian tubes
- Hormone levels
So while your fertility may initially look good, the reality is showing otherwise. We call it “unexplained,” because we don’t yet know what the problem is after standard fertility testing. But take heart, because when it comes to actually conceiving, things have to come together in optimal timing which means even fertile couples don’t always conceive when expected! In fact, a typical fertile couple still only has a 20 percent chance of conceiving in a given month of trying.
A complete fertility evaluation might include a hysteroscopy to find uterine issues, evaluation of ovulation history, using an HSG to assess the fallopian tubes, or checking your ovarian reserves with blood work or antral follicle count as well as your partner’s semen analysis. In some cases, the eggs are there and the sperm is just fine but since you aren’t conceiving you may still be diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Sometimes it’s because there’s an undiagnosed medical condition like celiac disease, diabetes, a thyroid disorder or autoimmune disease which hasn’t been found yet.
So let’s say you have been trying to conceive for a year, and no reason for infertility has been assessed. Our fertility specialists can help increase your chances of conceiving. For some, adopting some healthy changes like eating balanced meals, regularly engaging in exercise — and limiting drinking alcohol while avoiding smoking altogether — help to boost sperm and egg quality. Remember, every month is a chance to conceive so you have 12 chances every year to help make conception happen.
If you are now choosing to work with our fertility specialists, you will have some options to consider. Our treatment protocol algorithms combat those unexplained infertility causes. For those under 35, fertility medicines may be recommended to stimulate the ovulation process which may or may not involve intrauterine insemination (known as IUI). In this case, the sperm is inserted into the uterus so they can easily travel to the fallopian tubes. We may also recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) as an option, often after others have been exhausted.
For patients over the age of 35, we may begin with medications to cause ovulation along with IUI and progress to IVF even sooner. While IVF is intense, when it comes to unexplained infertility, it also increases the odds of determining the reason behind your inability to conceive. Thanks to IVF, the egg quality can be determined as well as the embryo quality and fertilization.
For some couples, the diagnosis of unexplained infertility can eventually result in conception without having any intervention within a year or two of the diagnosis without anyone finding out what was wrong. This may mean it will take you longer to conceive, sometimes two to three years. This can be emotionally challenging, confusing and frustrating when no obvious reason is found. Just remember that it is real, it is happening to you, it just hasn’t been diagnosed yet.
Here to Help
If you need help with your efforts to conceive, we recommend speaking with our fertility specialists to find some answers and the hope you are looking for. We can help you increase your ability to conceive while ruling out problems and conditions. You deserve to feel confidence and peace of mind on your fertility journey, and we are here to help you with just that! Call our Idaho Fertility Center team in Idaho Falls, ID, today at 208-529-2019!