The big life decision has been made - you want to start trying for a baby! But, after trying for a while, there’s still no positive pregnancy test. What’s going on?
Well, before we delve into the issue of Unexplained Infertility, it’s important to firstly understand what ‘fertility’ means. Fertility is the ability to have, carry and give birth to a child and is directly related to a woman’s age. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have and through ageing, both the quantity and the quality of those eggs declines. Although you can still get pregnant as long as you have your period, fertility does start to decline in and around the age of 32.
Trying for a baby but unsuccessful, what should you do?
You’re a healthy weight, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, have regular periods, have intercourse often and you’re still not getting pregnant. What could be the reasons for this?
Firstly, if you have been trying to conceive for 12 months (if you are under the age of 35) or 6 months if over this age, we recommend you go to your GP who can refer you to a fertility expert who will run a number of tests on both partners including an AMH test to check egg quantity and a semen analysis test which will evaluate male fertility. During this time, your fertility expert may also recommend simple changes in sexual and lifestyle practices which may include increasing the frequency of intercourse during your fertile window (around day 14 of your cycle) or making some changes to your diet or exercise.
What is Unexplained Infertility?
Unexplained infertility is when there is no underlying cause for the inability to conceive and it is quite common, affecting up to a quarter of couples who are trying to conceive. Sometimes a minor problem with both partners can impair fertility, even though the couple may have had no problems in other relationships and there may be no clear medical explanation. Despite lots of different tests, doctors may not be able to offer a clear reason for conception difficulties.
You have a diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility, what are your next steps?
Firstly, don’t panic! Although unexplained infertility is a diagnosis, and can be a frustrating one to receive, there are always plenty of other options and always a Plan B. Two main routes to follow are IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and IVF (InVitro Fertilisation) and your fertility expert will determine what is best for you as a couple. Also, it’s important to note, the process of IVF may offer up some clearer explanations as to the reasons for infertility by being able to examine factors that can’t be addressed through testing alone.
Remember, even with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, it does not mean you won’t get pregnant and fulfil your wish of having a biological child.
One of our patients Hillary, received a diagnosis of unexplained infertility at the age of 28. Here’s her story…
At 28 and 32 and with over two years trying to conceive, Hillary Murphy and her husband Eanan were referred to the ReproMed fertility clinic in Galway by her GP in the summer of 2018 when her AMH test came back normal. After the usual testing, many scans and a hysterosalpingogram, she was diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
Following this, Hillary did three rounds of fertility treatments between October 2018 and February 2019. On February 19th, she took her last Tigger injection and had her eggs collected two days later. Their son Ayra was a grade A, day 5 blast who was transferred on February 26th, 2019. The day before they were due to take the pregnancy test, Hillary got severe morning sickness so she knew the treatment had been successful. As part of their treatment, they had a confirmation scan at 7 weeks and it was then when they finally saw a heartbeat on the screen.
Unfortunately, Hillary got hyperemesis and every complication that could come with that so the pregnancy was a difficult one but at 39 weeks and 6 days Ayra Raymond Murphy was born by elective C-section and after a quick stay in NICU has been just a dream ever since.
“The care and compassion we received from the clinic was outstanding from preserving my modesty when I had a fit during a scan to keeping me comfortable while I was fainting during the egg retrieval. I was able to call the nurse with any questions I had, and I had a lot! This really puts your mind at ease when you are going through the treatments. The two tearful phone calls to inform the clinic the first two treatments didn't stick and we needed to go again were handled with both kindness and professionalism.”
“If I had to give advice to someone just starting their journey it would be to not delay in seeking help. You know your own body and if a significant amount of time has passed without getting pregnant no matter what age you are, listen to your body and not anecdotal evidence that people who have no medical knowledge give you.”