Our team here at the Center for Human Reproduction has recently developed an infographic explaining one of the most common causes of female infertility: unexplained infertility. This diagnosis is given to 30% of infertility cases and yet, we believe it really is a non-diagnosis. In our clinical experience, with proper testing, up to 90% of unexplained infertility diagnoses can be attributed to treatable causes.
We also care about not only your physical well being, but also your emotional health. In fact, these issues as important enough to us that one of our core team members is a psychologist. Julianne Zweifel is an expert in addressing the mental aspects of secondary (and primary) infertility and she can promote emotional well being in a way that few others have the training or experience to do. If you should feel you do not wish to talk a specialist, but are struggling emotionally, please at least let other team members know-the more we hear from you, the easier it is for us to help.
Embryo donation is the least expensive of the donor options. It's often cheaper than a regular IVF cycle. An embryo donor cycle costs anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000. This is assuming the embryo has already been created. (As opposed to choosing an egg donor and sperm donor and having the embryo created specifically for your cycle, which would be extremely expensive.)
Today, with assisted-reproductive technology, the chance of successful treatment is very good. Intrauterine insemination with superovulation is the simplest approach since it increases the chances of the egg and sperm meeting, but some patients may also need GIFT and IVF. IVF can be helpful because it provides information about the sperm's fertilizing ability; GIFT, on the other hand, has a higher pregnancy rate and is applicable in these patients since they have normal fallopian tubes.
Assisted hatching. About five to six days after fertilization, an embryo "hatches" from its surrounding membrane (zona pellucida), allowing it to implant into the lining of the uterus. If you're an older woman, or if you have had multiple failed IVF attempts, your doctor might recommend assisted hatching — a technique in which a hole is made in the zona pellucida just before transfer to help the embryo hatch and implant. Assisted hatching is also useful for eggs or embryos that have been previously frozen as the process can harden the zona pellucida.
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Few American courts have addressed the issue of the "property" status of a frozen embryo. This issue might arise in the context of a divorce case, in which a court would need to determine which spouse would be able to decide the disposition of the embryos. It could also arise in the context of a dispute between a sperm donor and egg donor, even if they were unmarried. In 2015, an Illinois court held that such disputes could be decided by reference to any contract between the parents-to-be. In the absence of a contract, the court would weigh the relative interests of the parties.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a treatment for infertility or genetic problems. If IVF is performed to treat infertility, you and your partner might be able to try less-invasive treatment options before attempting IVF, including fertility drugs to increase production of eggs or intrauterine insemination — a procedure in which sperm are placed directly in your uterus near the time of ovulation.
Secondary infertility is similar to other types of infertility and shares many of the same signs. However, in secondary infertility you’re unable to conceive or carry a baby to full-term after having a previous successful pregnancy. Infertility can be caused by either the man or woman. Treatment options can include medications to induce ovulation, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surgery.
For women, problems with fertilisation arise mainly from either structural problems in the Fallopian tube or uterus or problems releasing eggs. Infertility may be caused by blockage of the Fallopian tube due to malformations, infections such as chlamydia or scar tissue. For example, endometriosis can cause infertility with the growth of endometrial tissue in the Fallopian tubes or around the ovaries. Endometriosis is usually more common in women in their mid-twenties and older, especially when postponed childbirth has taken place.
Many people of sub-Saharan Africa choose to foster their children to infertile women. IVF enables these infertile women to have their own children, which imposes new ideals to a culture in which fostering children is seen as both natural and culturally important. Many infertile women are able to earn more respect in their society by taking care of the children of other mothers, and this may be lost if they choose to use IVF instead. As IVF is seen as unnatural, it may even hinder their societal position as opposed to making them equal with fertile women. It is also economically advantageous for infertile women to raise foster children as it gives these children greater ability to access resources that are important for their development and also aids the development of their society at large. If IVF becomes more popular without the birth rate decreasing, there could be more large family homes with fewer options to send their newborn children. This could result in an increase of orphaned children and/or a decrease in resources for the children of large families. This would ultimately stifle the children's and the community's growth.
In 2006, Canadian clinics reported an average pregnancy rate of 35%. A French study estimated that 66% of patients starting IVF treatment finally succeed in having a child (40% during the IVF treatment at the centre and 26% after IVF discontinuation). Achievement of having a child after IVF discontinuation was mainly due to adoption (46%) or spontaneous pregnancy (42%).
Though there are some risk with older women pregnancies, there are some benefits associated with caesareans. A study has shown that births over 40 have a lower rate of birth trauma due to increased delivery by caesarean. Though caesarean is seen to benefit mothers over 40, there are still many risk factors to consider. Caesarean section may be a risk in the same way that gestational diabetes is.
According to the data collected for 2014, these are the IVF success rates nationally, when using non-donor eggs, per egg retrieval. (These are not per cycle. In other words, these are the odds of a live birth after one egg retrieval, which may mean conception with fresh eggs/embryos in the cycle of the egg retrieval or after a frozen embryo transfer cycle in the following months.)
For cases where donor sperm is required, the majority of patients use commercial sperm banks as their source of donor sperm. You can find out a lot about a potential donor before making your choice. For example, you can access information about the donor’s ethnic or racial background, education, and physical characteristics. It’s also reassuring to know that sperm banks always screen donors for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis, HIV, and others. The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that frozen semen from a licensed sperm bank be used in order to prevent STDs.
Endometriosis implants are most commonly found on the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus or intestines, and on the surface lining of the pelvic cavity. They also can be found in the vagina, cervix, and bladder. Endometriosis may not produce any symptoms, but when it does the most common symptom is pelvic pain that worsens just prior to menstruation and improves at the end of the menstrual period. Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain during sex, pain with pelvic examinations, cramping or pain during bowel movements or urination, and infertility. Treatment of endometriosis can be with medication or surgery.
Kym Campbell is a Health Coach and PCOS expert with a strong passion for using evidence-based lifestyle interventions to manage this disorder. Kym combines rigorous scientific analysis with the advice from leading clinicians to disseminate the most helpful PCOS patient-centric information you can find online. You can read more about Kym and her team here.
Monitoring of egg development is usually done with E2 and LH blood hormone tests and ultrasound scans of the ovaries to determine when the egg is mature. The ultrasound allows the physician to visualize the thickness of the uterine lining and the ovaries, more specifically the number of follicles within them. The bloodwork shows the trend of pre- to post-stimulation hormone levels; increased levels of estrogen indicate follicular development.
IUI Preparation – Before your IUI procedure, men and women can make changes to their diet, add beneficial supplements or medications, and utilize holistic therapies like acupuncture and massage to ensure the best possible outcome from IUI. Taking this time to focus on improving the quality of your eggs pays off exponentially because it’s something you have the power to change. Best results are seen if adopted for 90 days prior to treatment.
Secondary infertility (SI) is defined by doctors as the inability to conceive or carry to term a second or subsequent child. You may not have heard of it but you probably soon will, because it's on the increase. A US study revealed that, in 1995, 1.8 million women suffered from secondary infertility; in 2006, it was 3.3 million. SI now accounts for six out of 10 infertility cases.
The take home message of these studies is that when gonadotropins are given to this patient population at a dose that doesn’t put the patient at significant risk of twins (like the 75 units in the Huang study), they are no better than oral medications (clomid and letrozole) at producing successful pregnancies. This is important because clomid and letrozole are also cheaper to purchase (hundreds vs. thousands of dollars) and easier to administer (oral rather than injectable). For this reason, many clinics have moved away from using gonadotropins in IUI cycles.
The treatment options for unexplained infertility are several and the treatment results are promising. Expectant management can be recommended if the woman is under 28-30 years of age and the infertility duration is less than 2-3 years. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has revolutionized the treatment of infertile couples, as well as profoundly increasing the basic understanding of human reproduction. IVF can be used as both a diagnostic and a therapeutic tool in couples with unexplained infertility. The pregnancy rates with IVF are good, at 40% per treatment cycle. In addition, the outcome of pregnancies among women with unexplained infertility is generally comparable to that of spontaneous and other pregnancies using assisted reproductive technologies.
In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to meet the egg. This normally takes place at the end of the fallopian tube, and this is called fertilization. There are a number of obstacles that can prevent this from happening, and the process itself even in healthy young fertile women is very complex- hence the low pregnancy rate each month. Obstacles such as cycle timing, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis must be overcome to achieve a pregnancy. Timing is often the most common obstacle to conception. What does it mean for you when common causes of infertility are ruled out and you’re told you have unexplained infertility? It should mean a time of hope.