As a teenager, I remember being constantly bombarded with warnings about getting pregnant.
“If you have sex you’ll get pregnant, even if it’s the first time”.
“One little accident and you’ll end up pregnant”.
“You don’t even have to have sex and you can still get pregnant”.
My fertility is something I took completely for granted and actually feared a little because I definitely didn’t want to get pregnant. So I did the sensible thing and went on the pill. God, I wish I’d known then what I know now about the pill, but that’s a whole other article.
I glided through my twenties, safe in the knowledge that I was on the pill. When I wanted to get pregnant I just had to stop taking it, right? Wrong. And why? Nobody could tell me. Unexplained infertility, apparently.
What are the reasons for unexplained infertility? That’s what we’re going to try and figure out.
That’s how long it took for me.
From deciding I wanted to have a baby until I was holding my baby boy in my arms it was five long, and often heartbreaking years. Of course on the surface I was still my normal, chirpy self, getting on with business and going about my day. But on the inside, I started to go a little bit crazy. Tracking this and testing that and slowly but surely being overcome by an insidious type of desperation that seemed so out of character. At least it was for me.
See, having kids had never been high on my agenda. As a young woman, I wasn’t even sure if I’d ever want them. Most of my friends had jumped on the baby train in their twenties, and though I loved them dearly it didn’t spark any sort of broodiness in me.
But then as I entered my fourth decade my feelings started to change. I can’t say what triggered it, although wanting a change of lifestyle was a selfish part of it. I wouldn’t say it was my biological clock ticking, but maybe it was. Thoughts of getting older and never having experienced this “love like no other” that everyone talks about and the thought of what life would be like without a child started to play on my mind. By the time I was 33, I knew what I wanted, so on my 33rd birthday, I came off the pill.
And I waited, and I waited and I waited some more.
I knew that it was common for it to take 6 months to a year to get pregnant when you start trying so I wasn’t too worried. My husband and I were both fit and healthy, and relatively young still, but when my 34th birthday came and went and my 35th started looming all the things I’d read about the difficulties for women over 35 having kids came bubbling to the surface. It was time to get checked out.
Time For The Fertility Tests
The next few months were spent with both of us getting a series of tests. Blood tests, urine tests, a PAP smear (me, not him), a sperm test (him, not me) and a test called Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This test involves injecting dye through the vagina into the uterus and Fallopian tubes and then taking an X-ray.
Now I don’t want to scare anyone but I want to be as honest as I can about everything. For me, it was pretty painful. It felt like seriously bad period cramps and although I don’t consider myself a wuss when it comes to pain I actually passed out when they stood me up for the X-ray. It was all over very quickly and it wasn’t unbearable so please don’t be put off. They do it to see if you have any blockages in your tubes so if it’s suggested you should definitely get it done. Take a couple of painkillers beforehand and you’ll be OK.
After all these tests and still no pregnancy I was anxious to hear my diagnosis. The most common reasons for infertility in women are:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Damaged or diseased Fallopian tubes
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Ovulation Issues
All in all, we probably spent about 6 months doing tests, going back and forth to the doctor’s office, only to be told that I had none of the above. All the tests came back well within the normal range. We were both in good working order. They even did a test to see if we were biologically compatible. We are. So why wasn’t I able to get pregnant? They gave us a very unsatisfying explanation which is really no explanation at all – Unexplained Infertility
What Is Unexplained Infertility?
Infertility is classed as “unexplained” when the woman is ovulating regularly, has open Fallopian tubes with no damage, fibroids or endometriosis, and has normal hormone levels. She is having regular sex, at least twice a week, with a man who has a good sperm count with good motility and is still unable to fall pregnant.
Unexplained infertility is not to be confused with Idiopathic infertility. Idiopathic infertility is when there is a problem with the woman’s eggs or with the man’s sperm that is making it difficult to conceive but doctor’s don’t know what is causing the initial problem.
Possible Causes Of Unexplained Infertility
Lifestyle is a big factor to take into account if you’re having trouble conceiving. Smoking has a very bad effect on fertility. It can damage the genetic material in both sperm and eggs leading to infertility, miscarriage and birth defects. Alcohol, caffeine, some medications and even stress can have adverse effects on fertility and should all be kept in check. A poor diet could be detrimental to your chances of conceiving and also to the health of the fetus if you do manage to fall pregnant.
We all know that age becomes a factor after 35 as well. Though more and more women are having healthy children later in life. In fact, in 2015 more women over 40 were giving birth to healthy babies than women in their teens. This hasn’t happened since 1947, in the wake of World War 2.
Other possible causes include:
- An underlying, undiagnosed medical condition
- Problems with a fertilised egg attaching to the uterus lining
- Hostile cervical mucus killing off sperm
- Follicles releasing the egg prematurely/not releasing the egg at all
- Poor egg quality
- Luteal phase abnormalities (this is possibly one of the most important things that impact fertility and can be checked with timed blood tests)
- Not knowing when you ovulate
What You Can Do About It?
I’m going to share with you all the things I tried and what I eventually did to get pregnant. Everyone is different but I hope you find something that will work for you.
I started off tracking my periods and taking my temperature every morning. I have to say, if nothing else, I learnt a lot about my body by doing this. After years on the pill, I really didn’t know much about my cycle and it was very interesting to observe myself as if I were some sort of science experiment.
In fact, with all the stuff they teach in school, you would think that teaching girls about their bodies, their cycles and their fertility should be on the curriculum somewhere, but no. It’s definitely worth getting to know this stuff about yourself though. I could tell by my temperature, and eventually, by the way, I felt, when I would ovulate and when I would get my period. I even used ovulation strips just to be sure. Unfortunately, no matter how much sex I had around ovulation time, nothing happened.
I ate fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. I cut out caffeine and alcohol. I took all the recommended supplements – folic acid, zinc, selenium, iodine, and drank gallons of water. And still nothing.
I bought Preseed, a special fertility-friendly lubricant, just in case my own stuff was being hostile. I cycled my legs in the air like a dying beetle for half an hour every time. Nada.
I did castor oil patches on my belly to draw out the toxins. I meditated. I prayed. Zilch.
I spent a lot of time trying all these things in the hope that I would fall pregnant naturally. What I’d wanted more than anything was a surprise pregnancy but obviously, there wasn’t going to be any chance of that. That’s not to say that none of these things worked. I did actually fall pregnant twice during this time but sadly didn’t stay pregnant. That’s a story for another time.
In the end, we went to see a private doctor who advised us to try timed intercourse. I was given a course of medication that I injected into my lower abdomen (painless and much easier than you’d think) for 10 days starting from the first day of my period. On day 10 I went in for an ultrasound scan. The doctor gave me a trigger shot to release the egg and we were sent home to get busy as often as possible for the next couple of days.
Two weeks later I did a test, actually, that’s a lie, I did a test a few days later at home. I couldn’t wait any longer. But two weeks later I did the official test with the doctor and the rest, as they say, is history (or Jesse, in my case).
What I Learned
I really wanted to get pregnant naturally. I guess everybody does. I never imagined that I would be faced with unexplained infertility and so it took me a long time to accept that I was. I’m glad I tried everything I could to have it happen naturally, and I’m very grateful that I got pregnant on the first try with the least invasive medical intervention. I just wish that I had accepted the fact that we needed help and had the treatment earlier. I feel like I wasted a lot of time just hoping it would happen.
For someone who wasn’t sure she even wanted kids, it turns out I absolutely love being a mum. If I’d sought treatment earlier I might even be a mum of two by now.
If you’re suffering from infertility of any sort I know how heart-wrenching it can be and I feel for you. I hope my story may be of help or comfort in some small way. Please feel free to connect with me in the comments. We, women, need to share with each other and support each other. Things can be tough for us at times and it’s good to know that we’re not alone.
12 thoughts on “Reasons For Unexplained Infertility & What You Can Do About It”
Hi Debbie! Very interesting to read your story. Even though I’ve been blessed to not have to go through any of this, I have people close to me that have. I will share your article to let them know they are not alone either.
Thanks Adam, I’d appreciate that. It can be a lonely ride without support. All the best to you and your family x
Great article I can relate to this article me and my wife had similar issues and had to go see a doctor who helped us have our first baby boy I’m going share this article with my wife .
Thanks Telly, and congratulations on your baby boy. Great news that you managed to sort it out in the end x
Hi Debbie this is such a great article and close to my heart as my best friend is going through the same thing. I’m going to flick her a link to read this. It seems to me its becoming more of an issue and so lifestyle / environment/ diet must play a part in it.
Thanks Sass, much appreciated. Yeah, it seems to be getting more and more common. Wouldn’t be surprised if it had a lot to do with the pesticides and antibiotics used in our foods nowadays. It’s certainly worth thinking about x
Debbie fantastic post, well written, very easy to read and a subject matter very dear to our hearts. My wife and I went thru the same things, the doctors couldn’t tell us why we couldn’t get pregnant, we did all the tests, we tried everything and unfortunately for us we never had children. Thank u for sharing, all the best
Thanks Butch. I’m sorry you guys went through this and never found a solution. I can be really hard. All the best for you and your wife x
Hello Debbie, thank you for sharing such an intimate story I wish i had the guts to read articles like this before.
I am 42 years old now and never blessed with children of my own. I used to tell myself that I didn’t care either way, if it happened for me it happened and if not it wasn’t meant to be.
I was wrong now that it’s too late it bothers me more than I ever imagined it would.
It’s great that you were able to finally have a child, they really are the most precious gift anyone will ever receive.
Thanks Lisa, that’s really kind of you. I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I’m inclined to say that 42 isn’t really too late,but only you know the truth of that.
Best wishes for the future x
This is what it’s happening to me, I’ve cried a lot because I know in my heart how much my husband would love us to have babies, it just has not happen. Every month I am wishing I am pregnant but 90% of me knows that I am not.
I had a 5.4cm ovarian cyst, which it was removed 2 years ago, at the time of the surgery, my doctor found out that I had severe endometriosis stage 3, that she also tried to remove.
After two years of my cyst surgery and after trying to conceive with no luck, my doctor suggest to see an infertility specialist. I haven’t because I am still hoping It will happen naturally.
Just the thought about paying a specialist to help me with my problem, makes me sad and mad at the same time because there is a lot of irresponsable parents out there having kids like rabbits, they don’t care about them, they abandon them etc, this is when I ask God why? Why do I have to pay to get pregnant? Me and my husband are great people, we both have stable jobs, my husband is such a loving person. All we asking is for one, only one baby.
We will go see a specialist by the end of this month, we really really hope we can get help and hopefully become pregnant soon.
Thank you for creating this post, it is very informative, I know there are a lot of ladies out there that they will feel identify with this topic.
Your website in general is amazing. Very elegant, I love the minty color! (one of my fav colors), Great content, good quality images. I will make more time to read other posts, I am sure they are as interesting as this one. Congratulation and good luck!!
I’m so sorry to hear that, Adriana. It can be so heartbreaking, checking every month and being disappointed. I know, I’ve been there. It’s so important to remember that you’re not alone, no matter how isolating it can feel. It is hard to accept that you might have to give up the dream of everything just working out. I held on to that too. But the truth is, once you have your little baby in your arms you’re not going to feel sad about not having gotten pregnant naturally. You’ll just be so grateful that it all worked out. So please, go with your husband and speak to a doctor. Who knows, this time next year you could be a very tired, very happy mama.
All the luck in the world to you. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out.