For a couple trying to conceive, a diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” is difficult to receive. It’s also more common than you might expect. One in every three couples who seek fertility treatment has been diagnosed as “unexplained”. Unexplained infertility does not mean that there is no cause for infertility but rather that the cause has not yet been discovered.

Many scientists believe that unexplained infertility has a genetic basis that involves the eggs, sperm, or both. Fertility treatments such as IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) provide a more detailed picture of how the egg and sperm interact and ultimately how the embryo develops.

As research progresses, fewer and fewer couples will fall into the category of unexplained infertility. Perhaps the best news is that more than 80% of couples who consult a reproductive endocrinologist will become pregnant.

What is the definition of unexplained infertility?

Unexplained infertility means that the basic fertility investigations have not revealed a cause for the failure to conceive. In this case, the semen analysis is normal, the female partner is ovulating, and the hysterosalpingogram (X-ray of the uterus and tubes) is normal.

If my infertility is unexplained, how do I know what treatment is best?

Although we cannot find a cause for unexplained infertility, treatment often consists of medications that induce ovulation, in combination with intrauterine inseminations. If this is not successful after 3 to 4 cycles, or if a more successful and aggressive treatment regimen is desired, then in vitro fertilization is recommended.

Are there any medications I can take if I am diagnosed with "unexplained infertility"?

Yes. Fertility medication combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI) is often used in cases of unexplained infertility. If IUI is unsuccessful, in vitro fertilization is the next treatment choice.