It can be the most difficult thing you hear when the doctors tell you they don’t have an answer for your infertility. Unexplained infertility affects about 1/3 of couples who have trouble getting pregnant. Read on to learn more about unexplained infertility and what you can do about it.
How Do the Doctors Come to This Conclusion?
To diagnose unexplained infertility, doctors must run several tests on both the male and female of the couple. Standard fertility tests are done when the couple has been trying to conceive for one year without success.
If the couple is 35 or older, fertility testing will be done after trying to conceive for 6 months. This is because fertility treatment can take some time and the older the couple is, the lower the chance of successful treatment.
Standard Fertility Tests
A fertility specialist may begin testing the couple when they have shown signs of infertility. Some tests are basic and routine, but if there are further concerns from the standard tests, more invasive testing may be done.
First, doctors will check the male’s sperm count and sperm motility. This will tell the doctor if the male’s sperm is healthy enough to fertilize an egg, or if this may be the cause of fertility.
If there are further concerns, more testing may include hormone testing, testicular biopsy, STD screening, and urinalysis.
The doctors will also check the female’s fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, hormone levels, and ovulation.
According to Very Well Family, fertility testing for women may include:
- A basic gynecological exam
- Sexually transmitted disease testing (some STDs can cause infertility)
- Blood work, which may check for thrombophilia and antiphospholipid syndrome (in cases of recurrent miscarriage), as well as a variety of hormones, including LH, FSH, thyroid hormones, androgen hormones, prolactin, estradiol (E2), and progesterone. AMH, or anti-mullerian hormone, may also be tested for.
- Some of this blood work must be done on a particular day of your menstrual cycle. For example, FSH is usually checked on day 3 of your cycle. Progesterone is usually checked on day 21 of your cycle.
- Ultrasound, to look for polycystic ovaries, larger ovarian cysts, fibroids, and, sometimes, to confirm ovulation is taking place.
- Ultrasound is also used to check the shape of the uterus and the thickness of the uterine lining. An antral follicle count, which predicts the quantity of eggs available in a woman’s ovaries, may also be done via ultrasound.
- HSG, or hysterosalpingogram, to check that the fallopian tubes are open and not blocked, as well as to evaluate the shape of the uterus.
- Endometrial biopsy, which involves taking a small amount of tissue from the uterine lining (or endometrium). This test is not commonly done.
- Hysteroscopy, which involves placing a telescope-like camera through the cervix into the uterus to take a closer look at the inside of the uterus. This is done if an HSG exam showed potential abnormalities or was inconclusive. Your doctor may also do an endometrial biopsy during this exam.
They Still Don’t Have Answers, Now What?
After all those tests, your fertility specialist still can’t determine why you’re having trouble conceiving. Now what do you do?
Unexplained infertility actually has an explanation, we just don’t have the tests, tools, or knowledge to figure out what it is yet. I know that offers little comfort, but I’ll help you figure out what you can do.
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is a time-consuming procedure, but well worth it, if it works. For the detailed process, check out my blog HERE.
Essentially, with IVF, they make the woman grow several eggs (instead of one at a time). They then harvest them, mix them in a petri dish with the man’s sperm, and re-implant the fertilized egg into the woman’s uterus.
The entire process takes about 2-3 weeks, then you find out if you’re pregnant or not. If not, you can go through another IVF procedure after 6 weeks to 3 months, depending on your doctor.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
This procedure takes the sperm from the male and injects one sperm directly into each harvested egg. They then place the fertilized egg back into the woman’s body.
Doctors perform this procedure during IVF, when there is a question of the sperm being strong enough to penetrate the egg’s outer layer for fertilization.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
With this procedure, they take specially washed sperm from the male and inject them directly into the uterus at the time of ovulation. This works particularly well with motility issues in the sperm.
Embryo Adoption or Egg Donation
There are options to adopt healthy eggs or embryos from donors. Embryo adoption saves a life and relieves the “birth” parents of the dilemma of what to do with leftover frozen embryos from IVF.
You can read more about egg donation and embryo adoption in my blog HERE.
Doctors may give drugs to induce ovulation to help move things along in the woman’s body. The down side of this is there is an increased chance of twins or multiples.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to Attain Fertility,
“Acupuncture may improve ovarian function and promote rich blood flow to the endometrium lining. Also, studies have shown more effectiveness of some fertility treatments when they are used in conjunction with acupuncture.”
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are complementary practices that heighten the effects of Western Medical treatments. Along with acupuncture, you can use herbs to help with unexplained infertility.
Herbal Fertility Supplements
If you’re not ready to try the other routes, this option may be your best choice. Bioterra Herbs has two companion fertility supplements, Male and Female Fertility. They contain specific herbal blends that help the reproductive systems of men (Male) and women (Female).
The herbs in the female formula can help with issues like PCOS, Endometriosis, and heavy/irregular bleeding. Both formulas also help with libido.
Click the image for a link to purchase the Female Fertility supplement from CVS Pharmacy!!
A Final Word…
Don’t give up hope! Remember it’s not your fault. Unexplained infertility is just a term the doctors use because they don’t have the knowledge to diagnose the issue yet!