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Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse if you are a female under the age of 35, or six months if you are 35 or older. Women who get pregnant but who have repeated miscarriages are also considered infertile.
Unexplained infertility means that medical tests cannot find any cause for infertility. In some cases, all the tests come back normal even though the couple is unable to conceive. In other cases, the tests may uncover minor abnormalities, but they are not severe enough to result in infertility.
It can be frustrating not to know exactly what is causing the problem. If you have unexplained infertility you are not alone: unexplained infertility affects about 1 in 5 couples.
What Causes Unexplained Infertility?
Diagnosed infertility in women may be caused by a number of factors. For example, it might be that the egg is not released at the best time for fertilization or that fertilization does not happen at all. Blocked fallopian tubes, uterine fibroids, or uterine problems may also be the cause.
Men can also have fertility problems which result in the couple being unable to conceive. Infertility in men is often due to few or no sperm cells being produced. In some cases, the sperm might be misshapen or they might die before they can reach and fertilize the egg.
A woman is more likely to be diagnosed with unexplained infertility if she is 38 or older. As women get older, the quantity and quality of their eggs diminishes. Most women over 40 have a hard time conceiving, and women over age 44 are rarely fertile even if they ovulate regularly every month. Since there is no test to check for egg quality or quantity, older women with fertility problems are often diagnosed as having unexplained fertility.
Women with mild endometriosis may also have fertility problems. Since it is not proven that mild endometriosis causes infertility, some researchers consider those women as having unexplained infertility.
Getting Pregnant with Unexplained Infertility
The length of time you have been infertile is an important factor in whether you will conceive. Couples who have been infertile for 5 years have less than a 10 percent chance of being able to conceive on their own. Some couples with unexplained infertility have success getting pregnant using intrauterine insemination (IUI) or ovulation induction with fertility drugs. A 2010 study called the FASTT trial indicates that in vitro fertilization (IVF) might be the quickest and best route to pregnancy for couples with unexplained infertility.