When all other explanations for infertility have been eliminated, a patient is then considered to have unexplained infertility. This does not mean that no reason for the infertility exists; instead it means that the reason is not readily identifiable through the results of initial tests performed by a doctor. As much as 15 percent of couples undergoing fertility treatments will be diagnosed as having unexplained infertility.
In order for a pregnancy to begin, literally hundreds of molecular and biochemical events must succeed perfectly.
When they don’t, various evaluations are conducted to search for possible causes. The standard tests, however, don’t address the molecular issues at all. They are designed to discover, or rule out, obvious factors such as medical history, blocked tubes, abnormal sperm counts or ovulation problems.
The term “unexplained infertility” reflects the scientific limitations of these evaluations, that is, the cause is not easily identified.
- a physical examination
- a medical history review
- testing of ovarian function and blood hormone levels
- x-rays of the uterus and fallopian tubes
- minimally invasive surgery such as laparoscopy to look at the condition of the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus
For men, a traditional fertility evaluation consists of a physical examination, a medical history review, hormonal testing and a semen analysis.
- the egg is not released at the optimum time for fertilization
- the egg may not enter the fallopian tube
- sperm may not be able to reach the egg
- fertilization may fail to occur
- transport of the zygote may be hindered
- implantation fails
Egg quality is of critical importance. Women older than 35 year of age may have eggs of reduced capacity for normal and successful fertilization.
After these evaluations, fertility treatment may be recommended.
Between 10 and 15 percent of couples may be diagnosed as having unexplained infertility after undergoing fertility treatments.
The emotional response to the failure to find an early explanation can be difficult and frustrating. Knowing the “whys” makes it more bearable.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to understand two things; with professional help infertility can often be treated and infertility is no one’s fault.