Pursuing ART With Unexplained Infertility

When there is no known cause for fertility problems, a woman is said to have unexplained infertility. There are different treatment pathways people with unexplained infertility can explore to get pregnant. In vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are 2 of the most effective assisted reproductive technologies (ART) that help with conception. Is IUI the better option to try first, or should patients go straight to IVF when unexplained infertility is at play?


Diagnosing unexplained infertility

When a couple has actively tried to get pregnant unsuccessfully for more than 1 year, a diagnosis of infertility is usually made. There are many different causes of infertility. Older age is often a concern as fertility decreases with time. In other cases, diminished ovarian reserve or low sperm count can be problematic. Blocked fallopian tubes or uterine abnormalities are other reasons pregnancy may not be possible. After a woman or couple has undergone testing to rule out the more common causes of infertility, unexplained infertility is diagnosed.

Comparing IUI and IVF

Since there is no known cause of unexplained infertility, there is often nothing to fix. Instead, most patients turn to ART treatments to help with conception. In vitro fertilization involves using fertility medication to increase the number of eggs a woman produces so that multiple eggs can be extracted at once. The egg is then fertilized with sperm from the male partner or a donor in the lab to create embryos. During the final step of IVF, an embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus to achieve a successful pregnancy. With IUI, washed and concentrated sperm are placed directly into the uterus near the time of conception.

Success statistics

There isn’t a single correct path for patients with unexplained infertility. Both IUI and IVF can help achieve pregnancy. Intrauterine insemination is a better option for patients worried about the higher cost of IVF treatments. IUI is also less invasive and less time-consuming. However, multiple rounds of treatment may be required as the procedure only has a 5-15% chance of success. IVF is much more likely to result in pregnancy but can be expensive. This option may be better for women who have tried to get pregnant for a long time or are older.

Making the right choice

Ultimately, deciding whether to pursue IUI or IVF will be up to the individual patient and the healthcare provider. Age, underlying health conditions, previous pregnancies, and any fertility concerns for the male partner should all be considered. IVF is more likely to result in a healthy pregnancy, but a younger woman with unexplained infertility may prefer to start with IUI for a few reasons. Whatever treatment is decided on, ART is a great way to grow a family when an unexplained infertility diagnosis has been made.

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