Can You Explain My Infertility?
Some couples have no problem getting pregnant. And there are others, 1 in 8 to be precise, who struggle to conceive. Infertility can be a frustrating, daunting circumstance. Doctors diagnose infertility in couples trying for 12 or more months to get pregnant without success. For those 35 and over, this timeframe comes down to 6 months. In most cases, doctors can identify the source of infertility, but some are unexplained. Unexplained reasons account for 15-30% of infertility cases.
What is unexplained infertility?
Unexplained infertility happens when there is no apparent reason why a woman or couple can’t conceive. To reach this diagnosis, a doctor or fertility clinic will do extensive tests first. The man’s sperm health gets checked along with the woman’s physical reproductive health and egg supply. If all signs look normal, the doctor will declare infertility as unexplained. Unexplained infertility does not mean there is no issue. The reason simply may not be evident at the moment. Nonetheless, there are a few ways to treat the condition, with fertility drugs as the first line of defense.
Taking the initiative
Fertility medication is one of the first steps an OB/GYN takes to treat unexplained infertility. The doctor will likely use clomiphene citrate or gonadotropins to stimulate the production of eggs. Clomiphene citrate has been FDA approved since the 1960s and is used to block estrogen production. As a side effect, the body produces more luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones. These hormones increase egg production and ovulation.
Your doc may try gonadotropins
Gonadotropins are fertility injections that contain hormones that help with egg production. In comparison, clomiphene citrate encourages the body to produce LH and FSH. Gonadotropins adds these hormones directly. As a result, the ovaries begin to make more follicles containing eggs to increase fertility. A doctor can administer both gonadotropins and clomiphene citrate via injections. After the injections, the doctor then monitors the woman’s health for any potential risks.
Men may benefit from fertility drugs
Unexplained infertility is a male issue too. Even with no obvious problem with sperm health, unexplained infertility can benefit from higher sperm count and sperm quality. Since clomiphene blocks estrogen production, men can also try the hormone medication. The reduced estrogen levels increase testosterone, LH, and FSH. The adequate dosage varies, so the doctor will closely monitor for any unwanted side effects as well.
Do fertility drugs work?
Fertility drugs have been shown to have a positive effect on pregnancy. Close to 80% of women successfully release more eggs during ovulation. During any fertility drug cycle, the pregnancy success rate is as high as 20%. While this sounds like a low figure, there is a 20% chance of getting pregnant even with perfect health. For men, studies show that along with vitamin E, there was a noticeable increase in sperm count, sperm health, and pregnancy rates when taking fertility medications. Fertility drugs are more effective in younger women and may need several cycles to work. However, this is a positive first step before other treatment options like IUI and IVF.
Possible side effects
No treatment is without risk. By taking in additional hormones through fertility drugs, the body may not respond well. A rare side effect is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, where the ovaries become enlarged, causing discomfort. Some medications can cause nausea, mood swings, bloating, and headaches. With fertility drugs, there is the chance of multiple pregnancies and tubal pregnancies. Allergic reactions may happen in sporadic cases. The doctor or fertility clinic will keep patients aware of any potential side effects.
Beating unexplained infertility is possible
Unexplained infertility can sound like a confusing diagnosis. However, there are a few ways to treat the condition. As the first stage of treatment, fertility drugs have been proven to be effective. Speak with a doctor today about the best available treatment for unexplained infertility.