The Ghost of (Unexplained) Infertilityby Ellie Thompson
It’s true that even when you’ve dealt with infertility and come out the other side, there’s always its ghost that’s ready to come back and haunt you at a moment’s notice.
Triggered, I suppose, by the news that somebody close to us had gotten pregnant – just like that, the other day. No sooner was the coil out, the baby had appeared, nestled obediently in its place. I mean, what the fuck. They hadn’t even debated the idea of having a child for very long, they were still ‘unsure’ – but hey presto! Job done, baby busy baking. No time for second thoughts.
That old kick to the stomach, fire in the belly feeling that I’d not felt for a very long time was back, and it felt just as it did before.
How could it be back? We were past all this, weren’t we? We have two beautiful children.
There will be women out there right now reading this that spend most of their lives wondering if motherhood will always remain this elusive club they just can’t seem to get an invite to. And if I were back in those shoes, I’d be screaming at this blog post too, “You’ve got two kids, what IS your problem?”
It’s a fair question. I know how lucky we are to have fought infertility and won, albeit with the help of science and a painful remortgage.
So why, when I heard the ‘lucky first-timers’ news could I not just be pleased, with no strings attached? Why the FIRE?!
I think having unexplained infertility leaves you always wondering… What was it that didn’t quite happen for us that can happen so easily for so many other people? If there’s nothing wrong, WHAT’S WRONG WITH US?!
What IS unexplained infertility?
According to NICE, “If you have unexplained infertility it means that no reason has been found for your fertility problems. You may feel anxious to try fertility drugs but you should not be offered clomifene citrate (or other fertility drugs taken by mouth) because it has not been found to improve the chance of pregnancy compared with trying for a baby naturally.
If you have been trying to conceive through regular unprotected sexual intercourse for a total of 2 years (this can include 1 year of trying before you had your fertility tests) and have not become pregnant, you may be offered IVF.”
Fertility Network UK
While Fertility Network UK has this to say: “Infertility may be said to be “unexplained” if the woman is ovulating regularly, has open fallopian tubes with no adhesions, fibrous growths or endometriosis and if the man has normal sperm.
Intercourse must take place frequently, at least twice a week, particularly around the time of ovulation, and the couple must have been trying to conceive for the previous two years at least.
Using these criteria, about 10% of all infertile couples have unexplained infertility according to the most often quoted figures. However, it is thought this figure could be lower if thorough screening is carried out. Some studies show around 28% of patients experiencing unexplained infertility, so a great deal has to do with how thoroughly diagnostic tests are performed.”
A diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’ is a diagnosis of elimination. One where your doc could tell you what wasn’t going wrong, but not what was - if that makes sense.
There will be a reason, but it’s whether you’ll ever get to know what it was. Once the doc hands you the label of ‘unexplained infertility” you’ll find yourself second-guessing your every move, and feeling quite frankly, fucking frustrated.
You’ll find yourself eye-balling each and every part of your life with suspicion in an attempt to find the culprit that’s causing you the worst kind of misery you’ve ever endured.
The things you eat, the lifestyle choices you’re making, your stress levels, the way you’re “doing it” – especially when you’re “doing it”, the exercise you do (or don’t do), your job, your sleeping habits, your drinking habits, your sugar intake, your caffeine consumption – hold tight, because EVERYTHING you do is about to come under scrutiny.
I wonder if infertility is easier to cope with if you know exactly what you’re up against?
With unexplained infertility, the reality is you might not ever know. And you can come to terms with that if you’re lucky enough to go through fertility treatment and end up with the children you so desperately wanted, no NEEDED – although the price tag that comes with it can be colossal, mentally, physically and literally.
But if anybody’s asking, I personally think a diagnosis of ‘unexplained fertility’ sucks utter balls. Especially for those who haven’t yet made it to the other side and have been given nothing else to go on.
Join my Facebook support group
If you’re struggling to conceive or are considering IVF, come and join my friendly support group on Facebook. IVF A Place To Talk is just that, a place where you can take refuge, be informed, and seek help and friendship from others going through similar things.
Don’t forget to check out the videos of both of our IVF/ICSI cycles on Facebook. Click here to take you straight there.