Unexplained Infertility Explained


Well, all the official IVF prescreening has been performed and the results have been delivered. Everything seems to be normal, except for the FSH which is borderline. The RE said that she would have liked that number to have been lower (yeah me too), but was very pleased with the antral follicle count. The higher FSH result just means that I will be started out on a higher dosage of medication. I can live with that and am trying very hard not to Google FSH 12.8 during any given moment of the day. Hopefully, I’ve gotten that out of my system and can just concentrate on the positive antral follicle count.

But then I start Googling antral follicle count only to look at the clock and realize that I’ve been Googling for 3 hours.

All the other tests are normal, though I forgot to ask for an exact number for the TSH. I assume it’s normal or the doctor would have said so otherwise  I also have no infectious diseases though there was a slight scare when one of the tests for Hepatitis B came back positive. The IVF coordinator assured me that those tests always come back false positive and that I shouldn’t freak out. Amazingly, I hardly freaked out at all, but yes, I did have a little Googlefest when I got home.

Hepatitis B is contacted through sex and blood and I logically convinced myself there was no way I could have it. Keep in mind that logic is not my strong suit. But then that little nagging voice reminded me of all the blood work I’ve had over the years. Was it possible that I got stuck with a contaminated needle? Did I have an open cut somewhere on my body when I went to the doctor? A week and a half later, the IVF coordinator called back to say that the original result was a false positive and the second test had indeed come back negative. Cue the sigh of relief just the same.

I also got the results of the mega-expensive anti-nuclear antibodies test and the Natural Killer Cells tests. Both negative. These tests aren’t routinely run for the most part, but the RE was trying to figure out the reason why it had taken me two and a half years to get pregnant and why I had four IUI failures. I’m glad that she was willing to run them because there’s a reason I haven’t gotten pregnant, even if that reason hasn’t been obvious.

Then we got the results of my husband’s semen analysis.

The test revealed that only 2% of his sperm sample was mature!

The RE believes that this is the reason for our four IUI failures and lack of success. Now, my husband has had a semen analysis before with our previous RE, but those tests only measured count, volume, shape, and mobility, not maturation and antibodies. If sperm aren’t mature, they cannot attach to and penetrate the egg (no matter how many IUIs you try). Hence, the reason for my infertility.

I have mixed feelings about this news, but it mostly sets me free. I’ve spent the last couple of years blaming myself for my lack of being able to get pregnant. I listened to my old RE whose standard answer to my questions about my lack of success was “Maybe it’s just your age.” I can’t tell you how many times he answered my questions with that response.  It left me nowhere and now that I look back, I had a gut feeling that there was something incomplete and even unprofessional about his responses.  I wasted a lot of time, money, and emotion going to him. I could go on here, say more, but I’m not. I have my answer (from someone else I should have gone to in the first place) and that’s what’s important.

The good news is that this problem is easily treatable through ICSI. As you have all heard, it only takes one sperm to fertilize an egg, and any of the 2% of a million sperm can do the job. It just takes a little medical assistance for those 2% to reach and penetrate the egg and that’s where the ICSI comes in. Obviously, if I had this information years ago, I would have gone straight to IVF, no matter how expensive or scary it seemed. I believe that has been the answer all along; I just didn’t want to see it. I’ve proven that I can get pregnant without IVF, but who’s to say when that would come around again with such a small percentage of mature sperm.

So for all you ladies out there with unexplained infertility, makes sure you have a doctor that will run a complete semen analysis on your husband. Ask the doctor to make sure that a significant number of the sperm are mature and antibody- free. If your husband has already had the basic semen analysis, ask your doctor to do a more comprehensive one. You won’t regret it.






8 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. That’s some heavy news. I’m glad that it means you can let yourself off the hook, and that there is a medical answer to the newly identified problem. I had the same FSH and “healthy” AFC. All of this info gives me a lot of confidence for you! I hope it does the same for you. Thinking of you.


  2. holy cow. how did i not even know this was a thing?! it’s all good news, though, because now there is an answer and a plan that dies with it. and i have also lost whole afternoons googling. it’s like losing time!


  3. Hmm…I didn’t know about this test, either, and we’ve known we’ve had male factor the whole time! But it was IVF with ICSI that finally worked for us (I hope, I hope, I hope!) and I hope it works for you, too!


  4. Wow! What an amazing relief it must be to finally have some answers. Your RE sounds like a great doc and I am so glad you are able to go forward with a game plan. Fingers are crossed and my heart is hopeful for you, friend!


  5. Wow, I’ve never even heard of that part of Male Factor Infertility! Was it very expensive to have the additional analysis done for maturation and anti-bodies? Hopefully with that new piece of the puzzle in place you can finally get your take home baby!!


  6. Omg I am SO excited that you have an answer! I’m so sorry that this is the one, but I know that knowing something is better than where you were. Good luck and please keep us updated! Hugs sweetie!!!!!


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