So, you and your partner are trying to conceive, and it’s taking much longer than you thought. After a year of trying to grow your family without success (6 months if you’re over 35) it’s time for some answers. But those answers may not be as clear cut as you want.
According to the CDC one in five couples in the US are unable to conceive on their own. And for up to 10% of those couples there is no obvious or conclusive diagnosis other than what doctors’ term “unexplained infertility”. Doctors diagnose unexplained infertility after thorough evaluations of both partners. They come to the diagnosis of unexplained infertility when tests reveal the following:
- Regular ovulation
- Unobstructed and open fallopian tubes
- No uterine abnormalities
- Sufficient ovarian reserve
- Normal hormone levels
- Normal semen analysis
Such a complicated and mysterious diagnosis may feel somewhat hopeless. But take heart! Even without knowing the reason behind your inability to conceive, pregnancy is still possible. Assisted reproductive medicine proves highly successful for the majority of couples. Unexplained infertility does not close the door on your dream.
Start with Lifestyle Changes
Since your physician cannot identify one distinct cause for your inability to conceive, they look at the results from your tests and determine treatment based on findings as well as their own clinical experience and even a little guesswork. Part of the treatment may include lifestyle changes such as:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Quitting smoking
- Losing weight (if overweight or obese)
- Limiting caffeine consumption
- Stress reduction exercises
Medications that stimulate egg production either on their own or when combined with another treatment may help. These same medications often facilitate sperm production as well. Clomid is the most prescribed fertility medication. Sometimes, depending on your age, your doctor suggests a medication like Clomid prior to any procedure.
Choosing Assisted Reproductive Technology
In addition to a healthy lifestyle and hormonal medication, it’s likely your doctor will recommend assisted reproductive technology (ART). This type, if approach proves most successful for treating unexplained infertility. With ART part of the fertility process includes involvement of the lab. There are two specific ART treatments. Your fertility specialist bases treatment on factors such as your age and how aggressive you want your approach.
Intrauterine insemination is a type of artificial insemination where the lab “washes” and concentrates your partner’s sperm. Your doctor, using a slim catheter, places the concentrated sperm directly into your uterus, a much easier path to fertilization. Your doctor may suggest IUI as a first course of treatment.
With IUI the sperm doesn’t need to travel through your vagina and cervix, where you lose up to 95% of the eager and active swimmers. Instead, it goes straight from the uterus to the egg awaiting fertilization in the fallopian tubes. More sperm equals a better chance of conception.
Your physician performs IUI with or without the help of fertility boosting medication. You and your doctor determine ovulation and schedule the insemination accordingly.
On the day of your scheduled procedure, your partner provides a fresh sperm sample which the lab prepares for treatment. The in-office procedure takes just a few minutes. Afterward, you’ll lie still for about 30 minutes. Sometimes your doctor prescribes progesterone which facilitates implantation of the fertilized egg. In two weeks, you’ll take a pregnancy test.
The more aggressive route of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) offers the best odds for pregnancy success. However, IVF involves many more steps than IUI. Some couples follow failed IUI attempts with IVF. And, in cases of advanced maternal age, IVF may be the only choice.
Couples who use IVF as a treatment for unexplained infertility should expect a cycle to take about six weeks. The first step in IVF involves timing the release of mature eggs. You’ll take birth control pills at the start then injections of medication to stimulate egg production. Once your eggs mature your egg retrieval procedure comes next.
You’re sedated for the procedure and your doctor, guided by vaginal ultrasound, inserts a tube to collect the eggs. Once collected your doctor hands the eggs over to an embryologist who assesses the eggs for viability. Then, to the lab for fertilization using your partner’s sperm.
After fertilization occurs, the lab observes the new embryos for 3-6 days ensuring they develop accordingly. You may request embryo testing during this time which ensures your embryo(s) are free from chromosomal and genetic problems.
Next comes the embryo transfer where your doctor places the viable embryo(s) directly into the uterus for implantation. You’ll know, if you’re pregnant in about eight to ten days.
We’re Ready to Help You
Unexplained Infertility is a frustrating diagnosis but not the end of your dream. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your fertility contact LA IVF. Our team of highly experienced professionals will work with you toward your goal of growing your family. Reach out to LA IVF and let’s start today.