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.
Previous tests should be carefully reviewed to ensure that the diagnosis is, in fact, "unexplained," and that no test has been omitted or missed. It may sometimes be necessary to repeat certain investigations. For example, if a previous laparoscopy has been done by a single puncture and reported as normal, it may be necessary to repeat the laparoscopy with a double puncture, to look for early endometriosis. 
Only 30 percent of patients who receive 100 mg of Clomiphene a day will produce more than three follicles. Patients that produce less than than three follicles have about half the chance of getting pregnant than those that produce greater than three follicles. Patients that receive fertility medications but do not do an insemination have only half the success rates compared to those who do.
There are multiple strategies for causing ovulation in clomid or letrozole resistant patients. Some of these include adding medications such as dexamethasone or metformin to the treatment regimen. Another approach is changing to gonadotropin injections. Rather than tricking the brain into sending a stronger signal to the ovaries to cause follicle recruitment, gonadotropins directly stimulate the ovary to recruit multiple follicles.
As a result, most patients need to undergo multiple cycles, and as we pointed out in a another lesson, no cycle is as likely to succeed as the first one. Below is data out of the UK published in the Journal of The American Medical Association that illustrates that after a few cycles most younger patients succeed with IVF but that is not necessarily true for older patients.

It is possible that a significant contributor to unexplained infertility can be attributed to changes in sperm epigenetics. Methylation patterns in sperm DNA which affect the expression of various genes may be the missing link for this unique patient population. By employing epigenetic analysis, we may be able to identify more causes of infertility and suggest the optimal course of therapy. Preliminary evidence even suggests that these epigenetic signatures influence the probability of conception, embryogenesis, and successful carrying of pregnancy to term. Future research on sperm epigenetics holds the promise of revolutionizing reproductive medicine and empowering patients in the process.


Wondering if it’s time to seek fertility help from a specialist? Your age can help clue you in to the answer. If you’re younger than 35, it’s perfectly normal for it to take six months to a year to conceive. If, after a year, you haven’t accomplished your conception goal, you’ll want to talk with your practitioner and/or get a referral to a fertility specialist. If you’re older than 35, experts recommend that you seek help from a fertility specialist after six months of regularly trying to conceive without birth control — and you may even want to go after three months. If you’re over 40, you’ll probably want to start off your quest for a second pregnancy with a fertility evaluation from your doctor. Ditto if your partner is over 40, since 35 to 40 percent of fertility problems can be traced back to the man, and a guy’s age affects the quality of his sperm.
Ovarian reserve testing. To determine the quantity and quality of your eggs, your doctor might test the concentration of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol (estrogen) and anti-mullerian hormone in your blood during the first few days of your menstrual cycle. Test results, often used together with an ultrasound of your ovaries, can help predict how your ovaries will respond to fertility medication.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in accordance with the Catholic understanding of natural law, teaches that reproduction has an "inseparable connection" to the sexual union of married couples.[128] In addition, the church opposes IVF because it might result in the disposal of embryos; in Catholicism, an embryo is viewed as an individual with a soul that must be treated as a person.[129] The Catholic Church maintains that it is not objectively evil to be infertile, and advocates adoption as an option for such couples who still wish to have children.[130]

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.
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.[190]
In males with hepatitis B, The Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine advises that sperm washing is not necessary in IVF to prevent transmission, unless the female partner has not been effectively vaccinated.[37][38] In females with hepatitis B, the risk of vertical transmission during IVF is no different from the risk in spontaneous conception.[38] However, there is not enough evidence to say that ICSI procedures are safe in females with hepatitis B in regard to vertical transmission to the offspring.[38]

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to infertility, and the path you take will be unique to your specific case, but there are some common starting points. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are two of the most popular infertility treatments available today. Understanding what they are, who they are intended for, and what the success rates are for these two options will give you a place to begin your conversations with your fertility expert. Here’s what you need to know.
In the UK, previous NICE guidelines defined infertility as failure to conceive after regular unprotected sexual intercourse for two years in the absence of known reproductive pathology.[11] Updated NICE guidelines do not include a specific definition, but recommend that "A woman of reproductive age who has not conceived after 1 year of unprotected vaginal sexual intercourse, in the absence of any known cause of infertility, should be offered further clinical assessment and investigation along with her partner, with earlier referral to a specialist if the woman is over 36 years of age."[12]
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.
Other health related problems could also cause poor egg health, low ovarian reserve, or abnormal immunological responses, which can affect conception. Stress could also play a role. We all know that menstrual cycles can be altered during times of extreme duress- and this can be emotional, physical, or environmental stressors. In these instances, the first steps should be to avoid life stressors, maintain a healthy weight, routinely exercise, avoid smoking, and reduce alcohol intake, all of which may be contributing to unexplained infertility issues.
I had a wonderful experience at CHA Fertility Clinic and got pregnant on my first cycle.  My son will turn two this year and I immediately contacted them when we were thinking of having a second child.  The doctors and staff are so kind, informative, and helpful, and they really put my mind at ease.  We had looked at other fertility clinics … Read More
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.

West states that the "hardest thing about secondary fertility issues is that you want a sibling for your child." Fiona, who has a son of five and has been trying to conceive a second child for two years, says she can no longer look out of the window at her son playing in the garden. "It breaks my heart. He just looks so alone out there. All I want is a sibling for him but I don't think it's going to happen."


Studies have indicated that IVF mothers show greater emotional involvement with their child, and they enjoy motherhood more than mothers by natural conception. Similarly, studies have indicated that IVF father's express more warmth and emotional involvement than fathers by adoption and natural conception and enjoy fatherhood more. Some IVF parents become overly involved with their children.[136]
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.
Ovarian hyperstimulation also includes suppression of spontaneous ovulation, for which two main methods are available: Using a (usually longer) GnRH agonist protocol or a (usually shorter) GnRH antagonist protocol.[60] In a standard long GnRH agonist protocol the day when hyperstimulation treatment is started and the expected day of later oocyte retrieval can be chosen to conform to personal choice, while in a GnRH antagonist protocol it must be adapted to the spontaneous onset of the previous menstruation. On the other hand, the GnRH antagonist protocol has a lower risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is a life-threatening complication.[60]

DNA damage reduces fertility in male sperm, as caused by oxidative DNA damage,[31] smoking,[28] other xenobiotic DNA damaging agents (such as drugs or chemotherapy)[32] or other DNA damaging agents including reactive oxygen species, fever or high testicular temperature.[33] The damaged DNA related to infertility manifests itself by the increased susceptibility to denaturation inducible by heat or acid [34] or by the presence of double-strand breaks that can be detected by the TUNEL assay.[35]
This information is designed as an educational aid to patients and sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care, nor does it comprise all proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for a treating clinician’s independent professional judgment. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.
Sunni Muslim nations generally allow IVF between married couples when conducted with their own respective sperm and eggs, but not with donor eggs from other couples. But Iran, which is Shi'a Muslim, has a more complex scheme. Iran bans sperm donation but allows donation of both fertilised and unfertilised eggs. Fertilised eggs are donated from married couples to other married couples, while unfertilised eggs are donated in the context of mut'ah or temporary marriage to the father.[176]
When I think back to that time, I recall an almost constant sense of grief. Every 28th day represented another failure, another loss. All around me my friends were having their second and then third babies. My son looked at his classmates with their siblings wistfully, he wished with every birthday candle for a brother or sister and one day he asked, "Can you play tig on your own?"
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.

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.

New Brunswick provides partial funding through their Infertility Special Assistance Fund – a one time grant of up to $5,000. Patients may only claim up to 50% of treatment costs or $5,000 (whichever is less) occurred after April 2014. Eligible patients must be a full-time New Brunswick resident with a valid Medicare card and have an official medical infertility diagnosis by a physician.[150]

If a couple has been actively trying for over a year, it may be time to consider seeing a specialist. One thing we hear time and time again from our Glow Fertility Program partner physicians is that they wish their patients would come in sooner. Seeing a specialist as soon as you suspect you may have a problem trying to conceive can save you both time and money.
Advanced technologies add to your IVF bill but may also make a huge difference to your success rate. Pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) can improve implantation rate by selectively transferring genetically normal embryos. For couples with male factor infertility, Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can help deliver a sperm directly into the egg. Nevertheless, ICSI only improves success rate in couples with severe male infertility.

Talk it out. Once you realize you’re entitled to your emotions, find an outlet for them. Talking about your feelings and your struggles can be a huge release and allow you to receive the support you need. If your family or friends don’t understand your sadness (or you find it hard to contain your baby envy around friends with more than one child), seek out people in your same situation. Find a support group for people with secondary infertility — online or in your area. And consider joining WTE's Trying to Conceive group to find moms who are also coping with secondary infertility.
×