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When a couple is unable to conceive, they are likely to go for a fertility test, and once the cause of the same is diagnosed, the doctor suggests the appropriate treatment. But what if the doctor is unable to tell you what’s wrong? It could be a case of unexplained infertility and it is pretty common. But unexplained infertility can be downright frustrating for a couple who is looking to get pregnant, but there’s no reason for a couple to lose hope. Here’s what you need to know about unexplained infertility, possible reasons for the same, and treatment options if any.
What Is Unexplained Infertility?
Generally known as UI, this is the most common type of infertility that women could face. The couple fails to conceive despite having unprotected sexual intercourse and no abnormalities are noticed. Unexplained female infertility is responsible for around 30% of infertility cases. Even after the basic infertility medical tests are carried out, the source of infertility remains a mystery. This form of infertility, as known as idiopathic infertility too, occurs when experts in the field of fertility are at a loss when it comes to explaining its actual cause. When such a situation arises, it becomes difficult for the individuals involved to decide what to do next.
Why Does It Occur?
There could be different possible reasons for why unexplained fertility occurs. It could be possible there could be no single concrete reason to promote infertility. In fact, it could be a combination of small anomalies of your reproductive system and its interface in the body. It is indeed an extremely complicated process to succeed at conceiving a baby and during this process, male and female fertility could have a defining impact on each other.
When male and female partners come together, they could either enhance the fertility parameters in a positive manner or it could reduce the fertility potential too. In the case of the latter, it could lead to infertility. It is stressful for most couples to know that together they are unable to conceive but being told that the reasons for this infertility are unknown, can be extremely traumatic.
Reasons That May Lead to Unexplained Infertility
If you’re trying to figure out the possible causes of unexplained infertility, the following passage explains its probable causes and will surely satisfy a lot of doubts:
- LUF Syndrome: Certain cases show that while eggs are produced and go on to mature properly too. The follicle inside which the eggs mature, however, does not burst in order to release the eggs and goes on to become a corpus luteum. This causes the eggs to remain trapped inside the unopened corpus luteum and the condition is called Luteinized un-ruptured follicle (LUF) syndrome.
- Tubal Defects: There is a possibility of a slight abnormality in the method through which the fimbria picks up the egg during ovulation. There are also chances of improper functioning of the cilia.
- Psychological Aspects: Psychological factors too play a critical role in causing infertility. Most couples get stressed about not being able to conceive a baby which leads to various other psychological problems and compatibility issues.
- Luteal Phase Abnormalities: The part of the cycle where the egg is released from the ovary is known as the luteal phase. Any inadequacy in this process can give rise to abnormalities. Progesterone is the hormone produced by the corpus luteum and is of high importance to prepare the endometrium for accepting the fertilized egg. In certain cases, the level of this hormone can be low, its output can be slow or it could be producing progesterone in a very short time. A defective endometrium that doesn’t respond well to the hormone can also be a possible cause.
- Infections: Unexplained infertility is also the result of certain infections. For example, chlamydia or mycoplasma are present in the body but do not reflect in any clinical tests carried out, due to their low numbers. For this reason, doctors rely on empiric therapy supplemented by antibiotics.
- Abnormal Eggs: The regular production of eggs with inherent abnormalities is also seen as one of the causes for a few cases of UI. Such eggs could have chromosomal anomalies or a malformed structure which leads to unexplained infertility.
- Immunological Causes: The immune system of the female body is capable of reacting to the sperm cells, causing them to die, stick to each other or immobilize. At times, the sperm does not attach itself to the eggs since the female develops an immune reaction to its coating. This immunity can also prevent the woman’s embryo from implanting, though this theory hasn’t been proven yet.
- Sperm’s Inability to Penetrate Eggs: Although the male partner may have a normal sperm count, the sperm is unable to fertilize the egg. The doctor may refer an IVF to make a diagnosis of such cases and if the donor sperm is able to fertilize the egg, it can be confirmed that the male sperm is unable to enter the egg.
- Uterine Factors: An abnormal endometrium or uterine lining can prove to be a barrier for implanting the embryo and this factor is often missed out while making a diagnosis. A series of vaginal ultrasound scans can be carried out to understand the endometrium texture and thickness to arrive at the right conclusion. Some infertile women have a thin uterine lining which may be caused as a result of poor oestrogen receptors or an improper blood flow to the area.
What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant?
After you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, the possibilities of getting pregnant without medical treatment will depend upon many factors. The amount of time you have spent trying to become pregnant and not be able to do so is a major factor. If you have spent five years or more trying to conceive or are suffering from UI for a long time, then there is a 10% chance of getting pregnant without medical assistance.
Diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility
Women who are under the age of 35 years and have been trying to get pregnant for a year or over 35 and are trying to conceive for six months and your test results are normal, your doctor may diagnose you with unexplained infertility. For this diagnosis, the doctor may run the following fertility tests:
- Laparoscopy for pelvic scarring or endometriosis
- Semen Analysis
- Blood tests to check your and your partner’s hormone levels
- Basic Medical History
- Physical examination including a pelvic ultrasound
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) for a detailed examination of fallopian tubes and the uterus
- Ovulation tests
- FSH/AMH test to check the egg quality and quantity
Treatment for Unexplained Infertility
Concerned parents who are trying to start a family should understand that unexplained fertility does not mean the end of the road for you. It is only that the cause cannot be determined but that does not eliminate unexplained infertility success completely. You can expect your doctor to try the following to find its cause and treat it accordingly:
- Intra-uterine Insemination
During this procedure, sperms are placed directly inside the uterus after they have been washed and concentrated. This process is timed to coincide with the time of eggs being released by the ovaries so they can be fertilized. The doctors help the sperm move into the fallopian tubes so that it fertilizes the egg that the ovaries have released. Intra-uterine Insemination is carried out during the regular monthly cycle or using fertility medicines after the doctor has checked all the causes for UI.
2. Ovarian Stimulation
Every month, during your normal ovulation cycle, one of the eggs reaches maturity. Through ovarian stimulation, it is possible to help the maximum number of eggs to mature every month. Enhanced with medical treatment, this process boosts your chances of getting pregnant. For this, medicine is injected for a period of 8 to 14 days and this helps stimulate the ovaries and produce more eggs. FSH and LH hormones are your natural hormones and they are used to create this medicine for stimulation.
3. Injectable Gonadotropins
The group of hormones secreted by the pituitary glands which help in stimulating the reproductive organs of our body are known as Gonadotropins. Unexplained fertility can be treated by injecting these Gonadotropins into the female body to stimulate the ovaries.
Females who have a dysfunctional pituitary gland or do not have one are injected with this substance. A malfunctioning pituitary gland does not produce enough Gonadotropins while a missing pituitary gland fails to supply this important hormone to the body. Many advanced reproductive technologies like In-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) use Gonadotropins as a part of their treatment. As compared to fertility pills, they are found to be much more effective in their capability to ovaries in women where there is an imbalance of FSH and LH hormones.
4. Clomid Medication
This medicine has been used by doctors to help treat infertility in males and females for over four decades now with positive results. Also known as Clomiphene Citrate, Clomid is helpful for women who do not get regular menstrual periods or monthly ovulating cycles. This drug blocks oestrogen and signals the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain to release hormones for stimulation of ovaries for producing eggs. However, Clomid is limited to use for infertile women below the age of 35 years and is carried out for three to six months to improve the chances of conceiving a baby.
Yoga Poses for Overcoming Unexplained Infertility
Women who are trying to conceive but cannot do so since they are dealing with unexplained fertility can benefit from yoga. Here are a few easy-to-do poses that can prove to be useful:
1. Simple Twist
Sit on the mat with legs crossed before you and place your right palm behind you with the base touching your buttocks. Push your palm downwards to give the spine a stretch. While inhaling deeply, keep your left hand on your right knee. As you slowly exhale, twist your body towards the right beginning with the waist, then chest, shoulder and neck.
2. Squat Pose
Assume a comfortable standing position with your feet apart and hands on the thighs for support. While bending your knees, slowly lower your buttocks downwards. Engage the fingers and palms of both hands together in front of the heart. Then using your elbows, try to spread your knees apart.
3. Butterfly Pose
Sit on a yoga mat and keep your heels and soles together. Bring your feet close to your body and place your hands on the top of your feet. Keep your eyes closed, while focusing on the organs in your pelvic area. You will feel the rush of blood towards the pelvis after which you should gradually relax those internal muscles in the pelvic region.
4. Pigeon Pose
Using the support of the forearms, go down on your knees and while putting the right knee in between your hands, push the right heel towards your left hip. While keeping the top of the foot and knee facing downwards, extend your left leg behind your body. Repeat the same with another side.
5. Pelvic Tilt
Lie down on your back with the soles of your feet touching the floor and knees pointing towards the ceiling. Keep the arms in a resting position at your sides, relax your shoulders while pushing the neck out. Slowly lift your buttocks in mid-air while taking deep and slow breaths. Then slowly lower your spine one vertebrae at a time and come to rest on the floor. Repeat this action for a minimum of five times.
There could be many reasons for a woman’s infertility and although the diagnosis has led to unexplained fertility, there are many ways of dealing with this condition. Speak to your doctor and trust her methods and line of treatment and you could become successful at becoming pregnant soon.