Explaining “Unexplained Infertility”

For most couples struggling with infertility, the cause can be quickly identified: endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, defective ovulation, poor sperm quantity or quality, and so forth. However, for many patients, standard diagnostic testing fails to identify a specific cause. This is generally referred to as “unexplained infertility” and accounts for roughly 25% of couples seeking help from a reproductive physician.

Infertility testing for unexplained infertility

A diagnosis of unexplained infertility does not mean that nothing is wrong. Rather, the term means that the problem is not identified by a standard diagnostic workup. Infertility testing determines a variety of factors, including that the general female anatomy is normal, that sperm are of normal number and shape, and that the ovaries possess a normal number of eggs. In the process of becoming pregnant, however, there are many interactions that happen at the cellular and genetic level, and the function of these organs on a microscopic level cannot be evaluated by standard infertility testing.

Treatment options for unexplained infertility

Thankfully, couples with unexplained infertility generally have an excellent response to treatments. For many couples with unexplained infertility, simply augmenting the ovulatory cycle coupled with placing a concentrated sample of sperm in the uterus (a process called intrauterine insemination or IUI) will significantly increase the chances of conceiving over natural intercourse alone. For couples in which IUI is unsuccessful, excellent pregnancy rates are achieved with more aggressive measures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Significant advances have occurred in the diagnosis and, more importantly, in the treatment of reproductive disorders over the past decade. Even without knowing the exact reason for infertility, Modern medicine can offer other baby-making opportunities and the possibility of a successful outcome.

For more information about unexplained infertility or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors at Fertility Associates of Memphis, please contact our office at 901-747-2229.