What does unexplained infertility mean? What are the chances of conceiving and success rates with IVF, IUI or Clomid treatments?
When infertility is unexplained, all hope of having children is not lost as you may think. There are many treatments that can help you conceive as discussed below. First, what does it mean and what are the causes?
What is unexplained infertility?
- What is unexplained infertility?
- Possible causes
- Getting pregnant with unexplained infertility
- Treatment for unexplained infertility
- Success rates and success stories
- Sources and references
Simply put, unexplained infertility is when neither you nor your partner is infertile yet you cannot seem to get pregnant.
While the term “unexplained” is being used here, it only means that all the common reasons as to why you would be infertile have been considered and none of them is the cause. The common causes include:
- Blocked fallopian tubes in women
- Uterine fibroids
- Physical problems in both men and women
- Varicocele in men
- Low sperm count in men
If it is none of these causes, then it would be a case of infertility without an explanation.
Secondary unexplained infertility
Secondary Infertility (SI) is the inability to have a second child. After giving birth to your first child, you may find it almost impossible to have the second one.
Secondary unexplained infertility is quite common given that more than 3 million women were affected by SI in the year 2013 in the United States alone.
This problem can occur due to injuries to the reproductive system, diseases and other unexplained causes.
It could also be that you had the cause of the secondary infertility case but were lucky to have had your first child.
The possible causes of infertility without a reason can vary widely given that there is a long list of diseases, genetic issues and even physical causes that may lead to this condition.
Among the likely causes include the following:
- Failure by the brain and the pituitary gland to produce the hormones that stimulate the egg.
- The quality of the egg should be sufficient and have the right chromosomes. Failure to this effect will lead to infertility.
- The failure of the egg to develop to maturity before it meets with the sperm.
- If the brain fails to release enough leuteinizing hormone to stimulate the maturation of the egg.
- At times, the follicle having the mature egg fails to rupture to release the egg.
- The fallopian tubes may fail to pick up the egg from the ovary and push it towards the uterus.
- The conditions of the female reproductive system should be conducive for the survival, movement and fertilization of the egg by the sperms. If not, fertilization will not occur.
- The cumulus cells of the egg might be too thick for the sperm cell to penetrate.
- The conditions might not be right for the sperms to undergo the needed chemical process to release its set of chromosomes.
- The fertilized egg may fail to divide after fertilization then develop normally.
- The fallopian tubes may also fail to move the fertilized egg into the uterus 3 days after fertilization for implantation. While it may become an ectopic pregnancy, it may also fail to develop in totality.
- If the embryo does not continue to develop to form a blastocyst, it could lead to a miscarriage.
- At times, the endometrial wall may not be developed well to allow the fertilized egg to attach on its inside for the development process.
- The blastocyst might also fail to attach itself on the walls of the endometrium.
In general, any break in the link in the process from the secretion of hormones to the development of the baby will lead to infertility with no reason.
Getting pregnant with unexplained infertility
Can you get pregnant with unexplained infertility? When the cause of your infertility has been classified as unexplained, there is still hope to get pregnant given the right procedures.
Many women find it difficult to get pregnant. However, with the right procedures, most of them have been able to conceive and give birth to very healthy babies.
“The good news is that couples with unexplained infertility have a 50 percent chance of getting pregnant naturally within a year following diagnosis.” [Attain Fertility]
- There are many ways one can get pregnant even when they have been diagnosed with this kind of infertility.
- They include using fertility drugs and physical methods such as timed intercourse.
- To increase your chances of getting pregnant, make sure the case is discovered early on.
- Research shows that, if you have infertility for five years and you attempt to get pregnant without professional intervention, you only have a 10 percent chance of getting pregnant.
This shows the urgency with which you should seek medical advice when you realize you are no longer as fertile as you expect to be.
What are the chances of conceiving?
On average, about 40 percent of the women who have undergone treatment for infertility with an unidentified cause will be able to give birth. Given that the actual cause of the infertility would not have been established, it would be difficult to treat a specific cause hence the (considerably) lower level of success as it is less than half of the women.
Without medical intervention, the likelihood of getting pregnant with unexplained infertility after three years of trying to get pregnant is at 28 percent.
If you are above 31 years of age, this percentage will reduce by 10 percentage points for each year that goes by.
Naturally, as you tend towards menopause, your chances of getting pregnant also reduce hence the need to seek medical advice early.
Treatment for unexplained infertility
What is the best treatment for couples who are infertile for no reason?
Most of the methods available for treating infertility with an unidentified cause require a medical expert to administer. Before concluding which one is the best, here they are;
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization. It is part of the assisted reproductive technology (ART). In IVF, a mature egg is manually combined with a sperm cell in a laboratory then transferred to the uterus for development.
IVF is best for cases of infertility where the suspected (or confirmed) cause is:
- Infertility for no reason
- Those with a genetic disorder
- If you had your fallopian tubes removed either willingly or due to a disease.
- If you have uterine fibroids, premature ovarian failure or ovulation disorders
- Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
- If the infertility is on the market side.
The chances of failure for IVF are very low and it is thus chosen as the last resort when all other methods have failed.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI is a fertility treatment method that entails the manual placement of sperm inside the uterus. In this way, more sperm will reach the fallopian tubes for fertilization of the egg since the distance would have been significantly reduce.
This method of treating infertility is considered to be less invasive when compared to In Vitro Fertilization as the fertilization process takes place inside the womb.
IUI is best used in the following cases:
- Infertility with an unidentified cause
- Ejaculation dysfunction
- A physical barrier that may inhibit the movement of the sperms towards the fallopian tubes
- When the conditions in the vagina or cervix are not conducive for the sperms to survive and move towards the fallopian tubes
You should not use this method if you have any of the following conditions:
- Endometriosis whether mild or severe
- If you are vulnerable to pelvic infections
- If you have a severe disease of the fallopian tubes
Also called Serophene or clomiphene citrate, Clomid is a common treatment for infertility due to its role in initiating ovulation.
Initially developed to treat anovulation (lack or low ovulation cases), Clomid has now found a role in treatment of most cases of unexplained infertility. The same drug is used to cause hyperovulation to increase chances of getting twins.
The success rate of Clomid in treating infertility in general depends on the following factors:
- Any previous pregnancies
- The presence or absence of endometriosis
- The period you have been infertile
- The quality and quantity of sperm
- Your age
- The actual cause of infertility
The three methods ranked in increasing order of cost and invasiveness are as follows: Clomid, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in that order.
Success rates and success stories
Many factors determine the success rate of each of these methods. They include;
- How long you have been infertile
- The presence or absence diseases
- Any methods you have used before
- Any medical procedures you have undergone
- The actual cause of the infertility
Besides the use of Clomid, the other two methods can only be carried out at a medical facility by a professional.
Even with that, the use of clomid yields better results under the directions of a doctor.
IVF has a success rate of 47% when done correctly. IUI has a success rate of 20% while the use of Clomid yields a success rate of 17%. The trend here is that the more artificial the method used, the higher the success rate.
Here is a success story you will find encouraging:
Sources and references
- Clomid Fertility Drug Treatment for Unexplained Infertility – Advance Fertility
- IVF Success Rates | IVF Australia
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Uses Risks And Success Rate – American Pregnancy