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.
When transferring more than one embryo, the risk of pregnancy and newborn complications also increases.1 Among IVF babies, twins are 12 times more likely than singletons to be delivered prematurely, 16 times more likely to be underweight and 5 times more likely to suffer from respiratory complications. Among IVF mothers, mothers of twins are 2.5 times more likely to have pre-eclampsia, over 8 times more likely to have premature preterm rupture of membranes and 4 times more likely to require a Caesarean section.

Next, we’ll look at data that compares PCOS patients who took clomid alone or clomid accompanied by IUI (no studies use letrozole, so we are forced to use a study with clomid). Clomid alone produced a 17% live birth rate after 3 cycles, while clomid plus IUI produced a 19% live birth rate. Investigators concluded there was no statistically significant difference.


Fertility expert Zita West has noticed this increase at her London clinic. "The main reason," she explains, "is age. Women are having babies later." Exhaustion also plays a part. "The sleeplessness of life with a small child can't be underestimated," she says. "You might still be breastfeeding, you might be sharing a bed with a toddler, you might be holding down a job at the same time. Basically, there's not a lot of sex happening."

An IUI procedure is the process of directly injecting sperm into the top of the uterus. This increases the odds of conception by reducing the distance the sperm must travel to meet the egg. That said, when most people talk about IUIs, they’re referring to the steps leading up to and after the actual procedure. An IUI treatment can be summarized into a few steps:


The main cause of male infertility is low semen quality. In men who have the necessary reproductive organs to procreate, infertility can be caused by low sperm count due to endocrine problems, drugs, radiation, or infection. There may be testicular malformations, hormone imbalance, or blockage of the man's duct system. Although many of these can be treated through surgery or hormonal substitutions, some may be indefinite.[57] Infertility associated with viable, but immotile sperm may be caused by primary ciliary dyskinesia. The sperm must provide the zygote with DNA, centrioles, and activation factor for the embryo to develop. A defect in any of these sperm structures may result in infertility that will not be detected by semen analysis.[58] Antisperm antibodies cause immune infertility.[23][24] Cystic fibrosis can lead to infertility in men.
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.
Risk of ectopic pregnancy. Women who have difficulty getting pregnant have an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy, regardless of how they conceive. And all assisted reproductive technology treatments, including IVF, also make an ectopic pregnancy more likely. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants in a fallopian tube or the abdominal cavity rather than in the uterus. It's treated with the medication methotrexate or by surgically removing the embryo to prevent it from severely injuring the mother by continuing to grow.
After your body releases an egg, the hormone progesterone kicks in to build and maintain the lining of the uterus. It makes your body temperature go up slightly. So taking your temperature with a basal thermometer every morning before you get out of bed can help you figure out if you ovulated. You can buy these thermometers at the drugstore. They're inexpensive, but they aren't as accurate as other ways of tracking ovulation.
Problems with your periods or menstrual cycle is a sign of ovulation problems – and if you aren’t ovulating, you won’t get pregnant. Menstrual problems are the most obvious sign of infertility in women – but they don’t necessarily mean you’re infertile. Most women have some type of problem with their period: light flow, heavy flow, clotting, irregularity caused by stress or weight fluctuations, hormonal changes, etc.

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.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after you’ve already had a baby, and it's more common than you might think, accounting for about 50 percent of infertility cases. In fact, more couples experience secondary infertility than primary infertility (infertility the first time around). It’s especially common in women who wait until their late 30s or even 40s, when fertility takes a nosedive, to have their second babies.
Heavy, as in a pad and a tampon still doesn’t feel like enough. Certain medical conditions, like thyroid problems or kidney disease, can cause excessive menstrual bleeding, medications (such as anti-inflammatory drugs or anti-coagulants) may as well; or the reason may be a condition linked to infertility. In a normal menstrual cycle, the hormones estrogen and progesterone work together to regulate the buildup of the lining of the uterus—that’s the stuff that sheds during your period. But if, for example, your ovaries don’t release an egg, the dominoes are tipped: your body produces less progesterone, hormones become imbalanced, the lining in your uterus over-develops, and you end up bleeding extra heavily. Fibroids in your uterus can also cause heavier or longer-than-normal periods; some types of these benign tumors can block fallopian tubes or interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. Up to 10 percent of infertile women have fibroids, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. If you soak through at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours, see your doctor.  This is the worst health advice gynecologists have ever heard.

In a lab, your eggs are mixed with sperm cells from your partner or a donor — this is called insemination. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, and fertilization happens. For sperm that have lower motility (don’t swim as well), they may be injected directly into the eggs to promote fertilization. As the cells in the fertilized eggs divide and become embryos, people who work at the lab monitor the progress.


Take a look at your lifestyle. Have any of your habits changed since you conceived baby number one? For instance, is your diet still on track, or is there room for improvement? Getting your eating plan up to baby-making speed may help you close in faster on conception. Has your caffeine consumption gone up now that you’re a mom? That’s understandable, but too much caffeine isn’t great for fertility. Has your smoking habit returned? If yes, it’s time to kick butt, since smoking ages your eggs and decreases fertility. Are you getting way too little sleep? That may be likely, especially if your first child is keeping you up at night, but skimping on sleep can mess with your hormones — and possibly your fertility. If any new unhealthy habit has slipped into your lifestyle, now’s a great time to put the brakes on it. And it’s not just about your habits. Is your partner kicking back one too many beers each night? That could be affecting his sperm quality. Ditto for smoking or an unhealthy diet. If your partner’s lifestyle needs a little fine-tuning, make efforts to get his back on track, too.

All pregnancies can be risky, but there are greater risk for women who are older and are over the age of 40. The older the women the riskier the pregnancy. As women get older, they are more likely to suffer from conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. If older women do conceive over the age of 40, their offspring may be of lower birth weight, and more likely to requires intensive care. Because of this, the increased risk is a sufficient cause for concern. The high incidence of caesarean in older mothers is commonly regarded as a risk.


The percentage of cycles cancelled between egg retrieval and embryo transfer is an indication of failed fertilization. This figure is halved with ICSI as compared to conventional IVF, indicating that it can indeed improve fertilization when the sperm is at fault. However, there are no differences in pregnancy, miscarriage or live birth rates between conventional IVF and ICSI, indicating overall similar success rates1.
Federal regulations in the United States include screening requirements and restrictions on donations, but generally do not affect sexually intimate partners.[185] However, doctors may be required to provide treatments due to nondiscrimination laws, as for example in California.[114] The US state of Tennessee proposed a bill in 2009 that would have defined donor IVF as adoption.[186] During the same session another bill proposed barring adoption from any unmarried and cohabitating couple, and activist groups stated that passing the first bill would effectively stop unmarried people from using IVF.[187][188] Neither of these bills passed.[189]
We know this is a touchy subject, but unfortunately, there’s no way around it. Science says that age does play a role in fertility. This 2018 study correlated age as a statistically significant factor in secondary infertility compared to primary infertility. In the study, the average age of couples was higher among those experiencing secondary infertility.
In cases where the man's sperm count is extremely low or there is poor motility (movement of the sperm), doctors may combine IVF with a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In this procedure, a sperm is taken from semen -- or in some cases right from the testicles -- and inserted directly into the egg. Once a viable embryo is produced, it is transferred to the uterus using the usual IVF procedure.

Antisperm antibodies (ASA) have been considered as infertility cause in around 10–30% of infertile couples.[23] In both men and women, ASA production are directed against surface antigens on sperm, which can interfere with sperm motility and transport through the female reproductive tract, inhibiting capacitation and acrosome reaction, impaired fertilization, influence on the implantation process, and impaired growth and development of the embryo. The antibodies are classified into different groups: There are IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies. They also differ in the location of the spermatozoon they bind on (head, mid piece, tail). Factors contributing to the formation of antisperm antibodies in women are disturbance of normal immunoregulatory mechanisms, infection, violation of the integrity of the mucous membranes, rape and unprotected oral or anal sex. Risk factors for the formation of antisperm antibodies in men include the breakdown of the blood‑testis barrier, trauma and surgery, orchitis, varicocele, infections, prostatitis, testicular cancer, failure of immunosuppression and unprotected receptive anal or oral sex with men.[23][24]
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. Its main usage as an expansion of IVF is to overcome male infertility problems, although it may also be used where eggs cannot easily be penetrated by sperm, and occasionally in conjunction with sperm donation. It can be used in teratozoospermia, since once the egg is fertilised abnormal sperm morphology does not appear to influence blastocyst development or blastocyst morphology.[86]

In order to have a successful IVF pregnancy, the first few weeks need special care. When you undergo IVF, you will be continuously monitored throughout the process by skilled doctors. Constant supervision reduces the complications associated with pregnancy. By understanding the IVF process and following your doctor’s instructions, you can enjoy the journey of your healthy pregnancy.


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.
While many cases of infertility remain unexplained, there may be answers in the epigenome. Unlike one’s genetic code, the epigenome is dynamic and can be modified by environmental factors and lifestyle choices. Fertility in many cases is a state which changes throughout one’s life. Given the lack of clear genetic or physiological causes of unexplained infertility, the epigenome is thought to be altered in this subset of patients. As a result, looking into the epigenetic basis of infertility can help clinicians inform treatment.
Impaired sperm production or function. Below-average sperm concentration, weak movement of sperm (poor mobility), or abnormalities in sperm size and shape can make it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg. If semen abnormalities are found, your partner might need to see a specialist to determine if there are correctable problems or underlying health concerns.
^ 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.
A woman's age is a major factor in the success of IVF for any couple. For instance, a woman who is under age 35 and undergoes IVF has a 39.6% chance of having a baby, while a woman over age 40 has an 11.5% chance. However, the CDC recently found that the success rate is increasing in every age group as the techniques are refined and doctors become more experienced.
Undergoing fertility treatment requires precise scheduling of frequent tests and procedures—a tricky proposition when you're a parent. "I've had to go to the doctor early in the morning three times a week for testing," says Bozinovich. "Who can you find to babysit at 7 a.m. on a weekday?" (The answer: a grandparent or, when all else fails, a nurse at the doctor's office.) Your instinct might be to keep your treatment a secret, but it can make your life easier to enlist a friend or relative to help with child care. Also, choose a doctor's office you're comfortable with. You'll be spending a lot of time there; a compassionate staff can make treatment easier.

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.
Ovarian stimulation with hormonal medication is performed over a period of around 10-14 days. During this time, progress is monitored through ultrasound scans and blood tests. When enough oocytes (eggs) have developed in the ovaries, a final hormone injection triggers the maturing of the oocytes. Thirty-six hours later, egg retrieval is scheduled to take place in the fertility clinic.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the most common and serious complication of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), aside from AIDS, among women. The signs and symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease include: fever, vaginal discharge with a foul odor, abdominal pain, including pain during intercourse, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Pelvic inflammatory disease can scar the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, and related structures and lead to ectopic pregnancies, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and other serious consequences. Pelvic inflammatory disease treatment includes several types of antibiotics.
When you face secondary infertility, you’re dealing not only with the typical ups and downs of TTC, but also with the additional emotional fallout that is unique to those having difficulty getting pregnant with baby number two. In addition to feeling disappointed and upset, you may also be feeling shock (“I got pregnant so easily the first time, there’s no way I could have infertility problems”), guilt (“I already have a child, so I should be happy”) and even isolation (“I can’t connect with the people facing primary infertility and I can’t connect with my friends who have multiple kids”). How do you reconcile these conflicting emotions — and how do you tackle them while trying to raise the child you already have?
A recent large population-based study collected data from almost 5000 European patients. According to preliminary results presented at the 2019 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, there is no benefit from ICSI in non-male factor cases. Importantly, the study reported no benefit of using ICSI regardless of how many eggs are retrieved after ovarian stimulation. Therefore, having a low oocyte yield should not be a reason for choosing ICSI over IVF.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
The Catholic Church opposes all kinds of assisted reproductive technology and artificial contraception, on the grounds that they separate the procreative goal of marital sex from the goal of uniting married couples. The Catholic Church permits the use of a small number of reproductive technologies and contraceptive methods such as natural family planning, which involves charting ovulation times, and allows other forms of reproductive technologies that allow conception to take place from normative sexual intercourse, such as a fertility lubricant. Pope Benedict XVI had publicly re-emphasised the Catholic Church's opposition to in vitro fertilisation, saying that it replaces love between a husband and wife.[127]
Twenty-eight days is the average length of a menstrual cycle, though anything between 21 and 35 days is considered normal. Fluctuating a little from month to month is one thing, but if your period is so irregular that you don’t even try to track it anymore, it could indicate a problem producing eggs, or ovulating. Ovulation disorders (meaning you ovulate infrequently or not at all) account for infertility in about 25 percent of infertile couples, according to the Mayo Clinic. One of the most common causes of female infertility is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)—a condition characterized by longer than normal stretches between periods, or even skipping cycles for months in a row. (Get the silent signs of PCOS here.) Irregular periods may also result from excessive physical or emotional stress, which can mess with the hormones responsible for stimulating ovulation each month; being too heavy or too thin, or gaining or losing a lot of weight quickly may also have the same effect. Talk to your doctor; he may be able to prescribe fertility drugs to help induce or stimulate ovulation.
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.
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.

3-6 months of treatment with Clomid pills (clomiphene citrate) might improve fertility by as much as 2 times as compared to no treatment. This is a very low level infertility treatment. Infertility specialists do not usually recommend Clomid treatment( without insemination) for unexplained infertility for women over the age of about 35. Most fertility specialists do not use it (without IUI) on any couples with unexplained infertility. If a woman is already having regular periods and ovulating one egg every month, giving Clomid, which will probably stimulate the ovaries to release 2 or 3 eggs per month (instead of one) is not really fixing anything that is broken - and is not likely to be successful. 
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