Conceiving a child is often not a simple timeline—even for couples not struggling with infertility. However, there are many couples who try to get pregnant for years without being successful. These intended parents will go on to see a fertility specialist to help them diagnose what is preventing conception.
Fertility specialists will run all the diagnostic tests—hormonal screenings, uterine cavity evaluation, ultrasound imaging, and semen analysis—to determine the cause of infertility. Although these tests often reveal what the problem is, what happens when they don't? Today, one in five couples gets an unexplained infertility or idiopathic infertility diagnosis, and must learn how to embark on the path to parenthood with limited knowledge.
Let's take a closer look at unexplained infertility and how you can continue your journey to parenthood after the diagnosis.
Unexplained infertility—What you need to know
First, understand that unexplained infertility is a diagnosis of elimination. Therefore, it is a controversial diagnosis. The fertility specialist has performed all the diagnostic tests and can't seem to pinpoint the exact problem. You have simply been unable to conceive, despite not seeming to have a problem.
Unexplained fertility is, therefore, only diagnosed once your doctor runs a complete fertility evaluation of both female and male partners. It is only reached at once your doctor has determined that:
- You don't have any severe uterine fertility issues (hysteroscopy test).
- You have regular ovulation.
- You have healthy and open fallopian tubes (HSG test).
- You have good ovarian reserves (evaluated with antral follicle count and blood work).
- Your partner has good sperm count, shape and movement.
An unexplained infertility diagnosis is considered premature if all the above are not evaluated. It is, therefore, vital to talk with your doctor and ensure all the above tests are carried out. These diagnostic tests will also help to eliminate the possibility of endometriosis which is only officially diagnosable via the surgical procedure of a laparoscopy.
The link between female age and unexplained infertility
Diagnosis of unexplained infertility is more likely in women over the age of 35. The main reason is due to a reduction in egg quality and quantity as women age. Therefore, fertility gets rare as a woman ages. It is almost impossible to conceive once a woman gets to age 44.
Unfortunately, there is no egg quality test yet. It is impossible to evaluate whether an egg-related issue is the root cause of fertility problems. Therefore, most women over 40 experiencing conception problems get diagnosed with unexplained fertility—despite ovulating regularly.
Unexplained infertility diagnoses can be inaccurate
Interestingly, some couples and individuals with unexplained infertility have gone on to conceive without treatment years after their diagnosis. In these cases, the unexplained infertility diagnosis was likely masking a fertility problem or circumstances hindering conception, but not preventing it entirely. And sometimes it may just be bad luck
What are your treatment options?
For couples that can't get pregnant despite trying for more than a couple of years, there are several fertility treatment options to help you overcome unexplained infertility. Assisted reproductive technology can help you fulfill your dream of parenthood. The most common treatment options for unexplained infertility include:
- In vitro fertilization
- Intrauterine insemination
- Third-party reproduction using a surrogate and/or egg donor
Continue your path to parenthood after an unexplained infertility diagnosis
Your emotional and mental health are vital at this time. Although it’s completely normal and okay to grieve an unexplained infertility diagnosis, there are many fertility clinics and treatments that can help you conceive a healthy baby.
At PFCLA, we help people struggling with infertility carry a successful pregnancy to term. We have contributed to the births of more than 13,500 babies through assisted reproductive technology and our specialists can help you determine the best treatment plan based on your fertility factors. Contact us today to get started.
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