There’s an intense emotional response to hearing, “There is no apparent reason for your infertility”. It can be difficult, maddening and equally frustrating for both you and your partner. People who do find out a specific cause find their situations difficult, too, of course, but knowing the “whys” makes it more bearable. In cases of unexplained infertility, couples feel that one reason, one cause is lurking in a shadowy corner. It just hasn’t been uncovered yet.
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.
4. Significant Hair Growth (or Hair Loss): Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes small cysts to form on the outside of the ovaries, and it also causes the body to produce an excess of male hormones. If you notice hair growing in unusual places like your face, arms, chest or back, this could be a warning sign. On the flip side, hair loss or thinning could be a sign of other infertility related conditions like thyroid issues, anemia or autoimmune disorders.
Epigenetic testing may allow patients to forgo the cost of multiple rounds of IVF by predicting whether embryos will fail. Equipped with this information, couples can have their IVF cycles optimized to account for embryonic versus fertilization issues. This represents a significant leap for the medical community given that 36% of couples struggling with unexplained infertility are currently over-treated.
^ Baker VL, Luke B, Brown MB, Alvero R, Frattarelli JL, Usadi R, et al. (September 2010). "Multivariate analysis of factors affecting probability of pregnancy and live birth with in vitro fertilization: an analysis of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcomes Reporting System". Fertility and Sterility. 94 (4): 1410–6. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.07.986. PMID 19740463.
Progesterone elevation on the day of induction of final maturation is associated with lower pregnancy rates in IVF cycles in women undergoing ovarian stimulation using GnRH analogues and gonadotrophins. At this time, compared to a progesterone level below 0.8 ng/ml, a level between 0.8 and 1.1 ng/ml confers an odds ratio of pregnancy of approximately 0.8, and a level between 1.2 and 3.0 ng/ml confers an odds ratio of pregnancy of between 0.6 and 0.7. On the other hand, progesterone elevation does not seem to confer a decreased chance of pregnancy in frozen–thawed cycles and cycles with egg donation.
Although menopause is a natural barrier to further conception, IVF has allowed women to be pregnant in their fifties and sixties. Women whose uteruses have been appropriately prepared receive embryos that originated from an egg of an egg donor. Therefore, although these women do not have a genetic link with the child, they have a physical link through pregnancy and childbirth. In many cases the genetic father of the child is the woman's partner. Even after menopause the uterus is fully capable of carrying out a pregnancy.
If both partners are young and healthy and have been trying to conceive for one year without success, a visit to a physician or women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) could help to highlight potential medical problems earlier rather than later. The doctor or WHNP may also be able to suggest lifestyle changes to increase the chances of conceiving.
Success varies with many factors. The age of the woman is the most important factor, when women are using their own eggs. Success rates decline as women age, specifically after the mid-30’s. Part of this decline is due to a lower chance of getting pregnant from ART, and part is due to a higher risk of miscarriage with increasing age, especially over age 40.
All major restrictions on single but infertile women using IVF were lifted in Australia in 2002 after a final appeal to the Australian High Court was rejected on procedural grounds in the Leesa Meldrum case. A Victorian federal court had ruled in 2000 that the existing ban on all single women and lesbians using IVF constituted sex discrimination. Victoria's government announced changes to its IVF law in 2007 eliminating remaining restrictions on fertile single women and lesbians, leaving South Australia as the only state maintaining them.
We’re not talking about that uncomfortable throb or dull ache that most women are cursed with during their periods—those cramps are your uterus’s way of telling you it’s contracting to expel its lining. For some women, the message comes through more loudly and clearly than others, but it doesn’t compare to the pelvic pain and severe cramping associated with endometriosis. This kind may begin before your period and extend several days into it, it may include your lower back and cause abdominal pain, and it can get worse over time. Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows in other locations, such as your ovaries, bowel or pelvis. The extra tissue growth (and its’ surgical removal) can cause scarring, it can get in the way of an egg and sperm uniting, and it may also affect the lining of the uterus, disrupting implantation. Approximately one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant. Other symptoms include pain during intercourse, urination and bowel movements. Here are other conditions that cause stomach pain.
The best study in the field enrolled 750 women to receive clomid or letrozole, followed them for 5 courses of therapy and revealed that the group receiving letrozole had higher live birth rates and fewer multiple gestations. The data is of exceptional quality, and there’s no reason to believe the conclusion doesn’t also apply to the choice of drugs if these patients proceeded on to IUI.
First, you take medication that makes several of your eggs mature and ready for fertilization. Then the doctor takes the eggs out of your body and mixes them with sperm in a lab, to help the sperm fertilize the eggs. Then they put 1 or more fertilized eggs (embryos) directly into your uterus. Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos implant in the lining of your uterus.
Generally, the best chance of pregnancy is when sex happens 1-2 days before ovulation. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period to start. Plan on having sex every other day around that time -- say, days 12 and 14. Keep in mind that having sex every day may lower a man's sperm count. Your cycle may be longer or shorter, so an online ovulation calculator may help you figure out the likely day.
Since most IVF cycles start with collecting a number of eggs after ovarian stimulation, you should have on average 12-15 eggs to use. This means that you do not need to use all of them for ICSI or conventional IVF. A Split-ICSI strategy incorporates both – some eggs are injected with selected sperms using ICSI, where the rest are incubated with sperm in the conventional way. Trying both provide a safety net against failed fertilization with either strategy.
Once the medications take their effect, your doctor will use a transvaginal ultrasound to guide a needle through the back wall of your vagina, up to your ovaries. She will then use the needle to aspirate the follicle, or gently suck the fluid and oocyte from the follicle into the needle. There is one oocyte per follicle. These oocytes will be transferred to the embryology lab for fertilization.
The AMIGOS study suggested that clomid provided the best balance of a high pregnancy rate with a reasonably low multiple rate among couples with unexplained infertility. However, the authors of the Huang study concluded that on balance letrozole was better. From our vantage point, given that clomid more commonly causes multiple eggs to be ovulated, it seems like the slightly better option between the two because the whole point of treatment in unexplained infertility patients is to increase the odds of delivery by increasing the number of eggs ovulated.
In the US, up to 20% of infertile couples have unexplained infertility. In these cases abnormalities are likely to be present but not detected by current methods. Possible problems could be that the egg is not released at the optimum time for fertilization, that it may not enter the fallopian tube, sperm may not be able to reach the egg, fertilization may fail to occur, transport of the zygote may be disturbed, or implantation fails. It is increasingly recognized that egg quality is of critical importance and women of advanced maternal age have eggs of reduced capacity for normal and successful fertilization. Also, polymorphisms in folate pathway genes could be one reason for fertility complications in some women with unexplained infertility. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that epigenetic modifications in sperm may be partially responsible.
Treatment with Clomid tablets plus IUI improves fertility rates. For unexplained infertility, studies have shown that for women under 35, monthly success rates for Clomid plus insemination are about 10% per cycle. This pregnancy rate holds up for about 3 tries and the success rate is considerably lower after that. More about success rates with IUIs is on the insemination page and on the Clomid for unexplained infertility page. The insemination component boosts fertility more than the Clomid does - but success rates are higher when both are used together.
Treating secondary infertility, like primary infertility, will depend largely on any underlying medical conditions. Through the Couples Clinic at UW Health's Generations Fertility Care, both members of the couple undergo a routine evaluation. Since infertility is not simply a woman's problem, evaluating both members ensures the most effective treatments can be recommended.
Luteal support is the administration of medication, generally progesterone, progestins, hCG, or GnRH agonists, and often accompanied by estradiol, to increase the success rate of implantation and early embryogenesis, thereby complementing and/or supporting the function of the corpus luteum. A Cochrane review found that hCG or progesterone given during the luteal phase may be associated with higher rates of live birth or ongoing pregnancy, but that the evidence is not conclusive. Co-treatment with GnRH agonists appears to improve outcomes, by a live birth rate RD of +16% (95% confidence interval +10 to +22%). On the other hand, growth hormone or aspirin as adjunctive medication in IVF have no evidence of overall benefit.
The first step in finding the right treatment is to find out if there is an actual cause for unexplained infertility. Taking treatment helps to increase the chances of conceiving, and also makes it likelier that you will get pregnant sooner. The treatment of luteal-phase defects is as controversial as the diagnosis. They can be treated by using clomiphene, which may help by augmenting the secretion of FSH and thus improving the quality of the follicle (and therefore, the corpus luteum, which develops from it). Direct treatment with progesterone can also help luteal-phase abnormalities. Progesterone can be given either as injections or vaginal suppositories.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) have been the therapeutic mainstays for those with unexplained infertility. The former involves inserting sperm directly into the uterus, while the latter works by uniting the sperm and the egg cells in a laboratory dish. IVF is expensive, but has a higher success rate. However, some patients continue to struggle and suffer the associated financial burden of repeated cycles.
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.
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.)
IUI: An IUI can be done with no medications or a number of different medications to help develop and ovulate one or two eggs. Around day 14 of a woman’s cycle, the insemination takes place which deposits sperm inside the uterus. This greatly increases the number of sperm at the junction of the uterus and fallopian tubes, the distance they have to swim to meet the egg, and thus increases the chances of natural conception for many people.
Repeated failed rounds of IVF can help identify causes of infertility. For example, if sperm and egg quality are normal, then the conception issue may be rooted at the embryonic or implantation level. In other words, if IVF fails to result in pregnancy despite successful fertilization, embryonic development or implantation may be to blame. Still this is a very expensive way to start getting answers.