What Does “Unexplained Infertility” Mean?
“Unexplained infertility” is among the possible diagnoses for fertility problems. Medicine is not a perfect science, and sometimes it’s not possible to identify the cause of a problem. This happens in all areas of medicine. However, for the couple on the receiving end of this fertility diagnosis, it is both confusing and frustrating. How can “unexplained” be a diagnosis?
Couples who have received this diagnosis might believe that it means there’s no solution for their problem. But they can take heart. “Unexplained infertility” actually means that the results of all their evaluations and tests are normal.
According to medical studies, up to 30% of infertile couples have unexplained infertility.According to Dr. Said Daneshmand, practice director at the Fertility Center of Las Vegas, “Unexplained infertility is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that if an infertility patient has undergone all four major diagnostic tests – ovarian reserve, sperm analysis, x-ray to assess fallopian tubes and uterine evaluation – and all tests results are normal, unexplained infertility is used as the diagnosis.”
“In the majority of instances, the underlying cause is decreased ovarian reserve – a decrease in the quantity and quality of eggs. And a considerable factor in this is that the blood tests we use to assess ovarian reserve or egg quality do not always reveal subtle decreases in egg quality,” says Dr. Daneshmand.
The chain of events that must take place for a pregnancy to occur is long and complicated. Hundreds of molecular and biochemical events are required for a pregnancy to develop, and they must happen in a particular order. So uncovering the reason why pregnancy isn’t happening is sometimes not possible. “A weak link anywhere in this chain will cause failure to conceive,” according to Dr. Richard Sherbahn, MD, program director, Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.
How can a couple address a diagnosis of unexplained infertility? Aside from clinical fertility treatments, suggestions include a change in diet and mind-body exercises to reduce fertility stress. Ovarian stimulation and/or intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilisation are among the fertility treatments that can work in cases of unexplained infertility.