What is Unexplained Infertility?

man looking at his wife in front of laptop

Many times fertility testing reveals a clear cause of infertility, but if you’re one of many who have been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” you may get frustrated and overwhelmed. Here’s why you shouldn’t panic.

Unexplained Infertility: What Does it Mean?

Undergoing a fertility evaluation can feel like a strange scavenger hunt. Aside from the anxiety and stress, you have to:

  • Answer many of questions about your history.
  • Undergo blood tests for multiple hormones (some of which you have never heard of).
  • Undergo an exam and ultrasound.
  • Have a dye test (hysterosalpingogram) to assess the fallopian tubes.
  • Convince your partner to get a semen analysis.

Finally you meet with your doctor to review all the results and find out that nothing is wrong.  “Then why am I not getting pregnant?”, you might wonder. What does that mean? What should I do? If there is no clear explanation after the testing, it can be frustrating not to have an answer.

Unexplained Infertility: Pregnancy and Treatment

The good news is that most patients with unexplained fertility can have success with standard fertility therapies.

In some cases, a patient will get pregnant spontaneously without any additional therapy.

IUI and IVF for Unexplained Infertility

Treatments for unexplained infertility often start with some type of ovulation medication combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI). This is often referred to as “clomid/IUI” or “letrozole/IUI.”

If those treatments do not work in 3-6 cycles, it generally makes sense to move on to in vitro fertilization (IVF). For women over 37 or couples with many years of unexplained infertility, your doctor will usually recommend going directly to IVF, as the other procedures are less likely to be successful. IVF with preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) is very effective for unexplained infertility.

Dr. Alan Copperman is a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with a long history of success in treating infertility and applying fertility preservation technologies. He serves as Medical Director of Progyny, a leading fertility benefits management company, and co-founded and serves as Medical Director of RMA of New York, one of the largest and most prestigious IVF centers in the country.  Dr. Copperman is also the Vice Chairman and Director of Infertility for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Chief Medical Officer of Sema4, a health information company. Dr. Copperman has been named to New York magazine’s list of Best Doctors 17 years in a row. He has been recognized by his peers and patient advocacy organizations for his commitment to patient-focused and data-driven care. He has published more than 100 original manuscripts and book chapters on reproductive medicine and has co-authored over 300 scientific abstracts on infertility, in vitro fertilization, egg freezing, ovum donation, and reproductive genetics.