What is Unexplained Infertility: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

by | Feb 27, 2023 | Fertility

What Is Unexplained Infertility?

Unexplained infertility is a term used to describe the inability of a couple to conceive despite having no apparent medical issues or abnormalities that can explain their infertility. In other words, all the routine tests and evaluations have come back to normal, but the couple is still unable to get pregnant. Simply state, it is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that all potential causes of infertility have been ruled out through testing, yet the couple still cannot conceive. Unexplained infertility is estimated to account for up to 30% of all infertility cases, and it can be frustrating for couples who are trying to conceive because they may not know what is causing their infertility. Despite the lack of a clear underlying cause, couples with unexplained infertility have several treatment options available to them. These may include fertility medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and other assisted reproductive technologies. However, the success rates of these treatments may vary depending on individual factors, such as age and overall health.

 

Causes of Unexplained Infertility:

Unexplained infertility is a frustrating condition where couples are unable to conceive despite having no clear medical explanation for their infertility. While the exact causes of unexplained infertility are not well understood, there are several possible factors that could contribute to the condition:

  1. Ovulation Disorders: Even though women with unexplained infertility may appear to ovulate normally, there could be subtle hormonal imbalances that interfere with the ovulation process.
  2. Sperm Dysfunction: Even when sperm count, motility, and morphology appear to be normal, there could be underlying issues that reduce their ability to fertilize an egg.
  3. Fallopian Tube Problems: Even though the tubes appear to be normal on imaging studies, there could be subtle issues with the tubal environment that impair the movement of the egg or the sperm.
  4. Egg Quality: Even though women with unexplained infertility may have normal hormone levels and ovulate regularly, there could be issues with the quality of their eggs that make them less likely to be fertilized or implant.
  5. Immunological Factors: There are some indications that the immune system could play a role in unexplained infertility. Certain antibodies or immune cells may interfere with the fertilization process or the implantation of an embryo.

It’s important to remember that these factors are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and there could be multiple issues at play in unexplained infertility. However, because these issues are often subtle and difficult to diagnose, it can be challenging to find effective treatments for couples with unexplained infertility.

Also Read: Infertility – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Symptoms Of Unexplained Infertility:

Unexplained infertility is a condition where a couple is unable to conceive despite no clear medical explanation for their infertility. Unlike other forms of infertility, there may not be any specific symptoms of unexplained infertility that are readily apparent. However, there are some signs that could indicate the presence of the condition:

  1. Inability To Conceive: The most obvious symptom of unexplained infertility is the inability to get pregnant despite having regular, unprotected sex for at least a year. This is the primary criteria used to diagnose the condition.
  2. Age-Related Factors: Women over the age of 35 are more likely to experience unexplained infertility. Additionally, if a woman has irregular periods, that could be a sign of an underlying hormonal issue that could be contributing to infertility.
  3. Previous History of STDs or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): If a woman or a Man has had a previous history of STDs or PID, that could increase the risk of unexplained infertility.
  4. Previous History of Cancer Treatment: Certain cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, can damage the reproductive organs and increase the risk of infertility.
  5. Family History of Infertility: If there is a history of infertility in the family, that could increase the likelihood of unexplained infertility.

It’s important to note that these symptoms are not specific to unexplained infertility and could be indicative of other underlying conditions. If a couple is experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, it’s important to seek evaluation by a fertility specialist to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.

Also Read: Women’s Fertility Diet

 

Diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility:

Diagnosing unexplained infertility can be a frustrating and challenging process. It typically involves a thorough evaluation of both partners to determine if there are any underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to infertility. The diagnostic process usually begins with a comprehensive medical history and physical exam, including a review of any previous pregnancies or medical conditions. From there, a fertility specialist may recommend a range of diagnostic tests, including:

  1. Semen Analysis: A semen analysis is a test that evaluates the quantity and quality of a man’s sperm. This test can help determine if there are any issues with the sperm that could be contributing to infertility.
  2. Ovulation Testing: Ovulation testing involves monitoring a woman’s menstrual cycle to determine if she is ovulating regularly. This may include tracking basal body temperature, ovulation predictor kits, or hormone level testing.
  3. Hysterosalpingography: Hysterosalpingography is an imaging test that involves injecting dye into the uterus and fallopian tubes to evaluate their structure and function.
  4. Ovarian Reserve Testing: Ovarian reserve testing involves measuring a woman’s hormone levels to determine the quality and quantity of her remaining eggs.
  5. Genetic Testing: Genetic testing may be recommended if there is a suspected genetic cause of infertility, such as a history of recurrent miscarriages or certain inherited conditions.

If these tests come back normal and there are no other underlying medical conditions that could explain infertility, a diagnosis of unexplained infertility may be made. It’s important to note that the diagnostic process for unexplained infertility can be a lengthy and emotional journey, and it may take time to arrive at a diagnosis. However, a thorough evaluation by a fertility specialist is essential to rule out any underlying medical conditions and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Also Read: How to Get Pregnant Fast

 

Treatment for Unexplained Infertility:

Treatment for unexplained infertility can be challenging since there is no clear underlying cause to address. However, there are several options that may increase the chances of conception for couples struggling with unexplained infertility:

  1. Fertility Drugs: Fertility drugs are often used to stimulate ovulation in women with unexplained infertility. These medications can help regulate the menstrual cycle and increase the chances of conceiving.
  2. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Intrauterine insemination involves placing sperm directly into the uterus during ovulation. This can increase the chances of conception by bypassing any potential issues with sperm motility or cervical mucus.
  3. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): IVF involves retrieving eggs from the ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred back into the uterus. IVF can be particularly helpful for couples with unexplained infertility since it bypasses any potential issues with egg-sperm interaction or fertilization.
  4. Assisted Hatching: Assisted hatching is a procedure that involves creating a small opening in the outer layer of the embryo to help it implant more easily in the uterus. This may be particularly helpful for couples with unexplained infertility, as it can increase the chances of successful implantation.
  5. Donor Eggs Or Sperm: In some cases, using donor eggs or sperm may be recommended to increase the chances of conception. This may be particularly helpful for couples with unexplained infertility who have been trying to conceive for an extended period of time.

It’s important to note that these treatment options may not be effective for every couple with unexplained infertility, and success rates may vary depending on individual factors such as age and overall health. Additionally, some couples may require multiple rounds of treatment before achieving a successful pregnancy.\

Overall, the key to successfully treating unexplained infertility is working closely with a fertility specialist to develop an individualized treatment plan based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Also Read: What is Test Tube Baby

Prevention from Unexplained Infertility:

Preventing unexplained infertility can be challenging since the underlying cause is not always clear. However, there are several lifestyle factors that may help reduce the risk of developing infertility:

  1. Maintain A Healthy Weight: Being overweight or underweight can affect hormone levels and disrupt ovulation, which can increase the risk of infertility. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise may help reduce the risk of developing infertility.
  2. Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can damage the reproductive organs and reduce fertility. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake may help reduce the risk of developing unexplained infertility.
  3. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels and ovulation, which can increase the risk of infertility. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, or therapy, may help reduce the risk of developing infertility.
  4. Practice Safe Sex: Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause inflammation and scarring in the reproductive organs, which can increase the risk of infertility. Practising safe sex and getting tested regularly for STIs may help reduce the risk of developing unexplained infertility.
  5. Limit Exposure to Environmental Toxins: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as pesticides and industrial chemicals, can disrupt hormone levels and reduce fertility. Limiting exposure to these toxins through proper protective equipment and avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals may help reduce the risk of developing unexplained infertility.

It’s important to note that while these lifestyle factors may help reduce the risk of developing unexplained infertility, they may not guarantee prevention. Some cases of unexplained infertility may be caused by underlying medical conditions or genetic factors that cannot be prevented. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and working closely with a fertility specialist may help increase the chances of successful conception.

Also Read: IVF Process in Hindi

FAQ

Q: What Could Cause Unexplained Infertility?

A: Unexplained infertility is a diagnosis given to couples who are unable to conceive despite undergoing a full fertility evaluation that shows no clear underlying cause. While the exact causes of infertility are not known, possible factors may include subtle abnormalities in egg or sperm quality, issues with implantation, or immune function.

Q: Can Unexplained Infertility Be Treated?

A: Yes, unexplained infertility can be treated with fertility medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and other assisted reproductive technologies. However, the success rates of these treatments may vary depending on individual factors, such as age and overall health. It is important for couples to work closely with a fertility specialist to develop an individualized treatment plan that may increase their chances of conception.

Q: How Can I Get Pregnant with Unknown Infertility?

A:If you have unexplained infertility, there are still options available to increase your chances of getting pregnant, such as fertility medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and other assisted reproductive technologies. It is important to work closely with a fertility specialist to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Q: Does IVF Work for Unexplained Infertility?

A: IVF (in vitro fertilization) can be an effective treatment for infertility, where there is no clear cause for the couple’s difficulty in conceiving. During IVF, eggs and sperm are fertilized in a laboratory, and the resulting embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus. Success rates vary, but IVF has helped many couples with unexplained infertility to achieve pregnancy and have a baby.

Q: How many couples have unexplained infertility?

A: According to medical studies, it is estimated that up to 30% of couples who are struggling with infertility have unexplained infertility, meaning that doctors cannot find a specific cause for their infertility despite undergoing a thorough medical evaluation.

 

Q: Is it possible to get pregnant with unexplained infertility?

A: Yes, it is still possible to get pregnant with unexplained infertility. Although the exact cause of infertility is unknown, there may still be subtle factors that are affecting fertility, and some couples may conceive spontaneously or with the help of fertility treatments.

 

Q: How many couples with unexplained infertility get pregnant?

A: The chances of getting pregnant with unexplained infertility depend on several factors, including the age of the partners and the duration of infertility. On average, studies suggest that the success rates for conceiving with fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), are around 10-20% per cycle. However, every couple’s situation is unique, and success rates may vary.

Q: What Is the Best Treatment Option for Unexplained Infertility?

A: The best treatment for infertility depends on the individual case, but options include timed intercourse, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Lifestyle changes, such as improving diet and reducing stress, may also be recommended. Consulting with a fertility specialist can help determine the best course of action for each couple.

Q: What Are 3 Common Causes of Infertility?

A: The three common causes of infertility are ovulation disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); issues with the fallopian tubes, such as blockages or damage; and low sperm count or poor sperm quality in men. Other factors, such as age, weight, and lifestyle choices, can also impact fertility.

Q: Can a woman be infertile for no reason?

A: Yes, it is possible for a woman to be infertile for no known reason. This is called unexplained infertility, where all tests and evaluations show no clear cause for the woman’s difficulty in conceiving. Unexplained infertility affects approximately 10-30% of couples experiencing fertility issues.

Q: How common is unexplained infertility?

A: Unexplained infertility is a relatively common diagnosis, accounting for 10-30% of all cases of infertility. This means that even after a thorough evaluation of both partners, including testing for ovulation, sperm quality, and fallopian tube patency, no clear reason can be found for the couple’s inability to conceive.

Q: What Tests Are Done to Diagnose Unexplained Infertility?

A: To diagnose unexplained infertility, doctors typically perform a series of tests on both partners. These may include a semen analysis for the male partner, tests to assess ovulation and ovarian reserve for the female partner, and an evaluation of the fallopian tubes. Additional tests may be performed based on individual circumstances. If no clear cause is found, the diagnosis of unexplained infertility may be made.

Q: How Is Unexplained Infertility Different from Other Types of Infertility?

A: Unexplained infertility is a type of infertility where there is no clear reason for the couple’s difficulty in conceiving, despite a thorough evaluation. This is different from other types of infertility, such as male factor infertility, ovulatory disorders, or tubal factor infertility, where a specific cause has been identified through testing and evaluation.

Q: How long should you try to conceive before being diagnosed with unexplained infertility?

A: Couples are typically diagnosed with infertility if they have been trying to conceive for at least 12 months without success, despite a thorough evaluation showing no clear cause for their infertility. However, in some cases, doctors may recommend testing and evaluation earlier if there are factors that may impact fertility, such as advanced age or a history of certain medical conditions.

Q: Can Unexplained Infertility Be Treated with Medication?

A: While there is no specific medication to treat unexplained infertility, certain medications may be prescribed to help stimulate ovulation in women with ovulatory disorders. Additionally, medication may be used in conjunction with other fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), to increase the chances of success. However, the most appropriate treatment plan will depend on the individual case and should be discussed with a fertility specialist.

Q: What are the alternative therapies for unexplained infertility?

A: Alternative therapies for unexplained infertility may include acupuncture, herbal supplements, and lifestyle changes such as stress reduction and dietary improvements. However, the efficacy of these therapies is not well established and should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Q: What lifestyle changes can help with unexplained infertility?

A: Lifestyle changes that can help with unexplained infertility include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, reducing stress, and improving diet and exercise habits. These changes can improve overall health and may also enhance fertility.

Q: Can unexplained infertility be prevented?

A: It may not be possible to prevent unexplained infertility, as there is often no clear cause or risk factor identified. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, and receiving regular medical care may help optimize fertility.

Q: What are the success rates for IVF in treating unexplained infertility?

A: The success rates for IVF in treating unexplained infertility depend on various factors, including the age of the female partner, the quality of the embryo, and the specific protocol used. Generally, success rates for IVF range from 50-70%.

Q: What is the cost of IVF for unexplained infertility?

A: The cost of IVF for unexplained infertility can vary widely depending on factors such as Country and specific treatment protocol. In Most Countries, the average cost of a single IVF cycle ranges from $12,000 to $15,000. The Cost of IVF For Unexplained Infertility ranges from $2,000 to $3000 i.e., INR 1.5 Lac To 2 Lac INR

Q: Is IUI a good option for unexplained infertility?

A: IUI (intrauterine insemination) can be a good option for unexplained infertility, particularly if the male partner has a sufficient sperm count and quality. IUI involves placing prepared sperm directly into the uterus, increasing the chances of fertilization. However, success rates for IUI are generally lower than those for IVF.

Q: What are the side effects of fertility treatments for unexplained infertility?

A: The side effects of fertility treatments for unexplained infertility may include a feeling of bloating, abdominal discomfort, mood changes, headaches, and hot flashes. In rare cases, more serious complications such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) or multiple pregnancies may occur.

Q: Does stress cause unexplained infertility?

A: Stress can impact fertility by disrupting hormone levels and ovulation, but it is unclear whether it directly causes unexplained infertility. However, reducing stress through relaxation techniques or therapy may help improve overall fertility and well-being.

Q: Are there any natural remedies for unexplained infertility?

A: While there are many natural remedies and supplements that claim to improve fertility, the efficacy of these approaches is not well established. It is important to discuss any natural remedies or supplements with a healthcare professional before use.

Q: What is the role of male infertility in unexplained infertility?

A: Male infertility can play a role in unexplained infertility, even if semen analysis results appear normal. Advanced diagnostic testing, such as DNA fragmentation analysis, may be necessary to fully evaluate male fertility potential and determine if it could be contributing to the couple’s difficulty in conceiving.

Also Read: Infertility Meaning in Hindi

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    Dr Mona Dahiya

    Dr Mona Dahiya

    IVF Specialist & Consultant

    Dr Mona Dahiya has performed over 5,000+ IVF cycles and is considered a global expert in IVF, ICSI, IUI and male fertility treatment. She is an eminent writer on Infertility Treatment and has over 100 Publications in both International and National Journals. Dr Mona Dahiya has immensely contributed to the field of infertility through her Research and articles.

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