What is Unexplained Infertility?

If you’re having trouble getting or staying pregnant, you’re not alone. Infertility, a medical condition in which a couple can’t conceive a baby or carry a baby to term, affects more than one in eight couples in the United States.

There are many known causes of infertility. For example, a condition known as endometriosis can interfere with conception by causing scarring and excess tissue growth in and around a woman’s pelvic organs. And in men, an enlargement of veins in the testicles — known as a varicocele — can lower sperm count or decrease sperm quality.

Sometimes, however, we can’t figure out what causes infertility. This situation is referred to as unexplained infertility.

Looking for an explanation

When a couple can’t have a baby, they undergo a series of medical tests looking for the possible causes of infertility. Approximately 30% of infertility cases are due to male factors, 30% are due to female factors, and about 20% are connected to problems in both the male and the female.

Unfortunately, for about 20% of infertile couples, testing reveals no discernible cause for their infertility. We know there’s a problem because the couple is unable to conceive a baby or maintain a pregnancy. But even after extensive medical testing, we can’t find a reason for their infertility.

A frustrating situation

Unexplained infertility can be extremely frustrating for couples. When a man has a varicocele or a woman has endometriosis, surgery may help clear up these conditions and resolve the infertility. Other problems may be solved with medication, the use of hormones, or changes in lifestyle, such as losing or gaining weight, not smoking, or cutting back on alcohol or the use of recreational drugs.

But when a couple has unexplained infertility, we don’t know what’s at the root of their problem, so we don’t have a clear solution to offer them.

Options for couples with unexplained infertility

Even when we don’t know what is causing infertility, we do have treatment options for couples. If you have unexplained infertility, Dr. Bardowell can work with you to explore your medical options, which may include the following:

Ovulation induction

Dr. Bardowell may prescribe oral medications that help your ovaries ovulate, or release eggs. While you take these medications, we monitor you to determine whether you ovulate. If oral medications don’t work, he may recommend a series of injections that could bring on ovulation.  

Intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Another option for infertile couples is IUI, a process by which healthy sperm (fresh or frozen) from your partner or a donor is placed in your uterus around the time at which you’re ovulating. Ovulation induction drugs may be used with IUI.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

Couples may also choose to have IVF procedures in which eggs and sperm (from you and your partner or donors) are combined in the laboratory, and the resulting embryo or embryos are implanted in your uterus or the uterus of your surrogate.

If you choose to pursue ovulation induction, IUI, or IVF, Dr. Bardowell talks with you about potential risks and outcomes, such as a higher chance of having twins or triplets.

Compassionate care for unexplained infertility

Having unexplained infertility can be a stressful experience, but you’re not alone. Dr. Bardowell can work with you to explore all of your medical options and make decisions that are best for you and your partner. Patients rely on Dr. Bardowell for his compassion as well as his experience. If you have questions about infertility, call our office to make an appointment or click the button to book it online.


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