Unexplained infertility occurs when fertility testing fails to find an apparent cause for a couple’s or an individual’s infertility. Healthcare providers can diagnose this form of infertility after completing fertility evaluations on both partners. They can then recommend treatment depending on the fertility test results and their past experience with similar individuals or couples. Here are several tests that are typically done for unexplained infertility:
Tests for Women
Fertility for women depends on several factors, including whether their ovaries release healthy eggs. The eggs must get into the fallopian tubes through the reproductive tract to meet with the sperm for fertilization.Female fertility tests can help identify if these processes are occurring as they should. Standard unexplained infertility tests for women can include:
A Pap smear is conducted during a pelvic exam to check for changes in cervical cells that may cause cancer. The provider inserts a speculum into the vagina to check the cervix and vaginal walls. They will swipe a long cotton swab against the cervix and take it to the lab for testing.
Ovulation Hormone Testing
Your fertility specialist can perform a blood test to measure specific hormone levels to know if you’re ovulating. These hormones include luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). LH and FSH testing can be done to measure their levels within the body. These hormones work together to stimulate egg growth and ovulation. Hormonal imbalances can impact the female reproductive system, mainly the ovaries. Infertility, absent ovulation, and irregular periods can indicate that these hormone levels are not well-balanced.
Ovarian Reserve Testing
This test helps to know if the quality and number of eggs an individual has is ideal for ovulation. The test usually starts with hormone testing during the early stages of the menstrual cycle. If the ovaries appear to have failed earlier than average, the individual may be diagnosed with primary ovarian insufficiency (POI).
Doctors can perform a pelvic ultrasound exam to check for ovarian or uterine disease. They may also order an X-ray hysterosalpingogram (HSG). An HSG helps to check the condition of your fallopian tubes and uterus. During this procedure, x-rays are used to capture an injectable dye traveling through the fallopian tubes. The dye can help indicate blockages or other related issues.
Genetic testing can be done to identify potential markers for genetic abnormalities or causes of infertility. This includes testing for an overexpressed BCL6 marker, which can identify inflammation linked to endometriosis. This marker has been found in over 50% of women diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
Tests for Men
For a man to be fertile, the testicles should produce sufficient healthy sperm. When the sperm enters a vaginal canal, it should be able to travel effectively to the egg. Male tests for unexplained infertility can help determine if these processes work as they should. Standard tests for men may include:
Imaging tests for assessing male fertility may involve scrotal or transrectal ultrasounds. These tests help to identify structural problems that may be contributing to infertility, such as missing or blocked vas deferens.
A healthcare provider can request semen analysis to evaluate the viability of the sperm. The doctor will analyze the semen specimen in a lab, checking for the quality and concentration of sperm. This test can help identify low sperm count, oddly shaped sperm, and poor sperm motility.
Blood tests can be ordered to help check for any genetic defects or hormonal imbalances that may cause male infertility. They can test for unbalanced thyroid or testosterone levels, as well as for chromosomal abnormalities.
Choose a Reliable Unexplained Infertility Specialist
There are many tests conducted surrounding unexplained infertility. Find a specialist who can perform further testing to help you identify potential causes of your fertility concerns. Look for a doctor with past experience working with similar cases, as they may be able to provide you with additional details and fertility testing options.