Getting to the bottom of unexplained infertility
How would a doctor come to a conclusion of unexplained infertility? Infertility happens if a couple tries to get pregnant for a year without success. Unexplained infertility happens if there are no clear reasons for infertility. This diagnosis is not taken lightly, as a reproductive endocrinologist will do a complete reproductive check of both parties. These include hormones, blood analysis, physical exams, ultrasounds, and much more. If these tests show no apparent problem, the cause of fertility will be unexplained.
Starting treatment off with IUI
Unexplained infertility does not mean that all hope is lost. Some effective treatment options can help. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of the first techniques a reproductive specialist will attempt. An IUI manually inserts a sperm sample through the cervix to encourage pregnancy. The procedure is timed with ovulation to improve the chances of pregnancy. The doctor will use washed sperm to provide the best sample possible. In some cases, the woman would take hormone medication to improve egg production. IUI has a positive outcome for unexplained infertility.
Turning to IVF
If multiple cycles of IUI fail, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the next step. With IVF, a fertility doctor extracts eggs from the hopeful mother’s ovaries after hormone medication. These eggs are combined with sperm in a fertility lab to create mature embryos. The strongest embryo is then implanted in the uterus, coinciding with ovulation. After 2 weeks, the doctor will test for pregnancy. Like IUI, multiple cycles may be necessary for success.
One sperm with ICSI
If the doctor suspects an issue with the sperm, the clinic will try intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). ICSI is an added layer to the IVF process. The embryologist extracts a single healthy sperm to fertilize the egg instead of a larger sample. ICSI may significantly increase the chances of pregnancy. However, both IVF and ICSI are time-consuming, emotional, and costly techniques. Speak with the reproductive specialist to outline any concerns and tips to improve success rates.
Lifestyle changes can help too
If there is no clear reason for infertility, simple lifestyle changes may increase the chances of pregnancy naturally. For instance, quitting smoking, alcohol consumption, and even caffeine can increase fertility. In addition, stress reduction decreases cortisol production, which can impact fertility. Studies show just losing 5% of body weight can significantly increase success rates. For couples with unexplained infertility, self-care can go a long way.
It’s not the end
An unexplained infertility diagnosis can be stressful and confusing. The diagnosis does not mean nothing is wrong. Instead, there may be something beyond conventional tests. However, this does not rule out the chances of starting or growing a family. Treatment options like IUI and IVF can significantly increase the chances of pregnancy, particularly for older patients. Couples trying to get pregnant without success should get a complete reproductive review.