Globally, more than of one-third of couples undergoing fertility treatment are diagnosed with unexplained infertility, otherwise medically known as “Idiopathic infertility”. This means that despite experiencing infertility, there are no “evident” causes that the doctor could pinpoint even after rounds of rigorous testing.
Unexplained or idiopathic infertility affects over 80% of couples worldwide and it wasn’t until the latest released research paper that a cause has finally been found. The researchers from Queen’s University Belfast published their findings in Reproductive BioMedicine Online journal.
We will explore more about the study, the highlighted cause, and the future of infertility treatment for couples struggling with idiopathic infertility.
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In this Article
More about the Study
The research was published in Reproductive BioMedicine Online journal and was conducted by researchers from the Queen’s University Belfast.
The study was led by Professor Sheena Lewis from the School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s. According to Prof. Lewis, the primary contributing factor to unexplained infertility is a condition called “High sperm DNA damage”.
The finding has created a breakthrough for couples who can consider a modified form of treatment to overcome their fertility struggles without unnecessarily spending time, money, and emotions on tests that do not deliver results towards the end.
According to Prof. Lewis, the findings from this study will assist couples who have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility and have been having a hard time conceiving through intrauterine insemination (IUI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF), etc.
Knowing a possible cause contributing to “unexplained” infertility will now pave the way for a comprehensive and tailored treatment plan that addresses the concerns and offer the best line of infertility treatment to reverse the impacts.
Unexplained Infertility, IVF, and Sperm DNA Damage
Besides highlighting the possible cause behind unexplained infertility, the recently published study also gives reasonable insights into the success rate of IVF for infertile couples.
According to the study, the chances of a successful IVF cycle are evidently dependent on the degree or severity of the damaged sperm DNA. A level of less than 15% damaged sperm DNA is considered normal and can contribute to a healthy IVF cycle with a heightened success rate.
However, if the sperm DNA damage is 25% and above, the same might interfere with the success of the IVF procedure.
The understanding of this possible cause of “unexplained infertility” was conducted on 500 couples using the specialized and exclusive test called “SpermComet™”. This is a specialized form of male infertility test that measures the degree of sperm DNA damage in the male partner.
According to the researchers, the test can:
- Identify the cause of the infertility
- Provide specific information regarding the extent of the infertility
- Predict the success of infertility treatments
- Fast-track the couple’s infertility treatment for improved success rates
With over a million couples struggling with infertility globally, this research will serve as a breakthrough for the individuals to ensure that the couples are getting the best-aligned treatment that introduces the most potent results, especially for the couples undergoing assisted reproductive techniques like IVF.
How to Get Pregnant with Unexplained Infertility?
Now that we have a better understanding of unexplained infertility and its impacts on a couple’s chances of a successful conception with treatments, let us explain some potent ways of conception that are potentially effective.
Until now, most couples with unexplained infertility got an empirical treatment, involving clinical experience with a lot of guesswork which was taxing both monetarily and emotionally.
Following are some of the most potent choices:
1. Introducing Lifestyle Changes
When the cause of infertility is unknown (for the most part), focusing on one’s lifestyle is crucial. There is not much scientific evidence that shows a correlation between lifestyle changes with heightened success in conception.
However, since most lifestyle choices influence fertility, doctors suggest introducing healthier shifts in the lives of couples struggling with unexplained infertility. This involves:
- Adopting an active lifestyle
- Eating a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet
- Managing stress
- Reducing excess caffeine consumption
- Quitting ill habits like smoking and alcohol consumption
- Weight loss in overweight or obese patients
Your fertility specialist will likely suggest that you try to conceive naturally while making tangible lifestyle changes.
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2. Trying Assistive Reproductive Techniques (ARTs)
ARTs are the next step in fertility treatment. Most couples typically start with IUI since it’s a lot less invasive compared to IVF. IUI is also a lot inexpensive compared to IVF, which is why it is the first line of treatment that most couples undergo.
IUI is also combined with a potent fertility drug like Clomid or Gonadotropins to improve the chances of conception. However, studies have found that the use of excess gonadotropins during IUI might lead to heightened risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
In case IUI doesn’t reap tangible results, the next in the line of unexplained infertility treatment is IVF. However, IVF is an extensive, time-consuming, invasive, and expensive procedure. So, it’s crucial that you consider all the options before getting started with IVF.
Since the exact causes of unexplained infertility aren’t 100% clear, most doctors will start IVF after conducting the routine tests and then wait for the outcome. Also, if you are 38 and older, IVF might be a more potent option compared to IUI.
Unexplained pregnancy is one of the leading complications that couples experience. Until now, most couples didn’t know the exact cause despite undergoing a series of testing. With this new scientific breakthrough, identifying the exact cause will help in analyzing the correct line of treatment for addressing fertility concerns and improve the salient chances of conception.