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Unexplained infertility is commonly misdiagnosed.

Posted Dec 18 2012 12:00am
It can be incredibly frustrating. I see it in the faces of my friends trying to conceive.  After spending thousands of dollars on unsuccessful infertility treatments, often the only explanation  given for the treatment failure is that they suffer from unexplained infertility. This diagnosis really is unsatisfying.
Called U.I. for short,  unexplained infertility   is one of the most common diagnoses for infertility (30%) given to women post- infertility treatment failure.
But what exactly is U.I.?
U.I. is often the medical reason for infertility offered to a couple when they cannot conceive, and, there appears to be no medical explanation available. However, many infertility specialists comment that perhaps this diagnosis is used too frequently. The high incidence of U.I. may actually be due to improper diagnostic work.
There are common conditions that are frequently misdiagnosed as unexplained infertility. The four most common are: Endometriosis, tubal disease, pre-mature ovarian aging and immunological infertility.
·Endometriosis:  This is a painful condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus. The endometrial tissue acts like the tissue inside the uterus and follows a menstruation cycle. However when the tissue bleeds it has no exit, so it builds up inside of the body which causes irritation and the formation of scar tissue around the ovaries, bowel and tissue lining the outside of the pelvis. 

Endometriosis can end up affecting ovarian function, the fallopian tubes and can cause high risk of miscarriages.  There is no “cure” or permanent treatment for endometriosis. There are, however a number of temporary treatments available, ranging from hormonal therapy to conservative surgery. Ironically, one of the best treatments for endometriosis is pregnancy itself since during pregnancy a woman does not have a menstrual cycle.

·Tubal Disease: Fallopian tubes are not functioning normally due to tubal infections caused by endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Surgery is the main treatment of choice for this condition. A Cochrane review (highly respected research journal) in 2010 found laparoscopic surgery to be vastly successful method for treating tubal disease.

·Premature Ovarian Aging (POA): As a woman gets older her follicle numbers decrease, as does her quality of eggs. Once one has entered into this stage of female fertility it becomes more difficult to conceive. Some women enter this stage prematurely in their late 20’s and early 30’s. This is known as POA.

A supplement has been receiving attention lately in relation to the treatment of POA. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) a type of steroidal hormone has been proven to improve the ovarian environment and encourages higher embryo counts, higher quality embryos, improved fertility treatment results and decreases in miscarriages. Like any supplement, although available without prescription, you should always check with your physician before commencement. 

·Immunological Infertility:  There are auto immune diseases which affect female fertility such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus and scleroderma.

Currently there is no treatment for this cause of U.I.However, experts believe it must be recognized. Once women with these conditions do conceive, the rate of pregnancy loss is higher. Therefore it is important to continue to treat the disorder during pregnancy or, if undiagnosed before, diagnose it.

It should also be noted that nearly 50% of all infertility cases are caused by the male, not the female. There has also been some recent research that suggests sperm damage could be another explanation for unexplained fertility.( I read about this  here )
So before being discouraged about being diagnosed with U.I., remember that this is simply a diagnosis that is given out when the doctor is unsure of what is causing your infertility. But, there IS an underlying cause for your infertility and with the proper care and investigation the cause can usually be discovered.
I wish you all the best,
Robyn.
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