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Unexplained Infertility – What to Do When You Can’t Conceive

Unexplained infertility may be the most frustrating reason for not conceiving a baby, because you can’t solve a problem if you don’t know what it is! Here’s what to do when you can’t conceive.

According to the experts at MedicineNet.com, about 10% to 15% of infertile couples are diagnosed as having unexplained infertility. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 33% of  infertile couples have unexplained infertility (the different statistics may depend on how the numbers are compiled, and the definition of “infertile couple”).

To learn more about not getting pregnant because of unexplained infertility, read Is Your Body Baby-Friendly? Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage & IVF Failure – Explained and Treated.

And, here are six things to do when you’re not conceiving a baby…

What is Unexplained Infertility?

Unexplained infertility doesn’t mean there is no reason for not getting pregnant…it just means that the reason for not conceiving is unidentified at this time.

6 Steps to Take When You Can’t Conceive

1. Make sure it’s really “unexplained infertility” – not “undiagnosed infertility.” Remember that fertility doctors and reproductive endocrinologists are human – which means they make mistakes! One fertility specialist can miss something that another could catch right away. Missed diagnoses and misdiagnoses aren’t necessarily because some doctors are better than others; it just means that different doctors have different education, experiences, and specialties. If you’re not satisfied with your doctor’s opinion or diagnosis, you need to get more information.

2. Get a second opinion. No matter how much you like your fertility clinic or doctor, get a second opinion if she gives you an “unexplained infertility” diagnosis. Look for different types of infertility specialists or fertility treatment centers in your area, such as hormone doctors and naturopaths. Contact infertility support groups and forums to get more information on possible specialists. And, get a copy of your medical tests and reports to take to your new clinic or doctor.

3. Do all the routine fertility tests. During National Infertility Awareness Week, WebMD and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association did a “Question and Answer” period about unexplained infertility during a Trying to Conceive (TTC) Cyber Conference. When asked what the routine tests are for unexplained infertility, Dr Kaylen M. Silverberg said, “At a minimum a semen analysis, documentation of ovulation, ultrasound of uterus and ovaries, and an HSG. HSG is the X-ray that evaluates the fallopian tubes and the uterine cavity. A semen analysis is a sperm test. The ultrasound looks at the uterus and ovaries to rule out severe endometriosis.”

4. Make sure you’ve completed these fertility tests for women:

  • Ovulation testing. A blood test is sometimes performed to measure hormone levels to determine whether you are ovulating.
  • Hysterosalpingography (HSG). This test evaluates the condition of your uterus and fallopian tubes. Fluid is injected into your uterus, and an X-ray is taken to determine whether the fluid progresses out of the uterus and into your fallopian tubes. Blockage or problems often can be located and may be corrected with surgery.
  • Laparoscopy. Performed under general anesthesia, this procedure involves inserting a thin viewing device into your abdomen and pelvis to examine your fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. A small incision (8 to 10 millimeters) is made beneath your navel, and a needle is inserted into your abdominal cavity. A small amount of gas (usually carbon dioxide) is injected into the abdominal cavity to create space for entry of the laparoscope — an illuminated, fiber-optic telescope. The most common problems identified by laparoscopy are endometriosis and scarring. Your doctor can also detect blockages or irregularities of the fallopian tubes and uterus. Laparoscopy generally is done on an outpatient basis.
  • Hormone testing. Hormone tests may be done to check levels of ovulatory hormones as well as thyroid and pituitary hormones.
  • Ovarian reserve testing. Testing may be done to determine the potential effectiveness of the eggs after ovulation. This approach often begins with hormone testing early in a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Genetic testing. Genetic testing may be done to determine whether there’s a genetic defect causing infertility.
  • Pelvic ultrasound. Pelvic ultrasound may be done to look for uterine or fallopian tube disease.

5. Make sure you’ve completed these fertility tests for men:

  • General physical examination. This includes examination of your genitals and questions concerning your medical history, illnesses and disabilities, medications and habits.
  • Semen analysis. This is the most important test for the male partner. Your doctor may ask for one or more semen specimens. Semen is generally obtained by masturbating or by interrupting intercourse and ejaculating your semen into a clean container. A laboratory analyzes your semen specimen for quantity, color, and presence of infections or blood. A detailed analysis of the sperm also is done. The laboratory will determine the number of sperm present and any abnormalities in the shape and movement (motility) of the sperm. Often sperm counts fluctuate from one specimen to the next.
  • Hormone testing. A blood test to determine the level of testosterone and other male hormones is common.
  • Transrectal and scrotal ultrasound. Ultrasound can help your doctor look for evidence of conditions such as retrograde ejaculation and ejaculatory duct obstruction.

6. Consider alternative medicine, such as acupuncture. Though alternative medicines (natural herbs or supplements, yoga for fertility, acupuncture for fertility, etc) have not been proven effective in medical science research or journals, there is anecdotal evidence that Chinese medicine therapy helps women get pregnant. Of course, it depends on the reason for your trouble getting pregnant – acupuncture or herbal supplements can’t solve every health problem! But, if you’ve tried every fertility test and have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, why not give traditional Chinese medicine a try?

And, if you’re ready to start thinking about the possibility of not having kids, read Accepting a Childfree Life – How to be Happy Without a Baby.

If you have any questions or thoughts on unexplained infertility, please comment below…

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Sources: Infertility Mayo Clinic and Unexplained Infertility MedicineNet.

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