The Science Of Infertility
Infertile couples who have undergone the standard infertility work-up but for whom the cause of infertility remains unknown are said to have unexplained or idiopathic fertility. This means that medical science has its limitations and the doctors just don't know the cause of your inability to conceive. However, the experts are in disagreement as to what constitutes standard testing for infertility.
Studies have reported as many as 26% of infertile couples as having unexplained infertility. But the most common statistics cited have the percentage at somewhere between 10-20%. These percentages relate to cases in which women underwent laparoscopic surgery to examine the pelvic cavity for scarring and endometriosis. Laparoscopy is no longer a part of routine fertility testing. That means that more cases of infertility than ever end up in the unexplained category.
Age can affect the rate of unexplained infertility, too. When the female partner is under the age of 35, unexplained infertility is the cause of half of all infertility diagnoses. By the time the female partner is age 40, the rate climbs to about 80%.
The fact remains that there are hundreds of possible causes for infertility. Conception is a complex process. Many, many things have to happen just so in just the right order for conception to occur and for pregnancy to result in a healthy infant.
Here is a simplified outline of the science behind conception:
*The brain and pituitary must manufacture hormones to stimulate egg development and release
*The egg must be healthy and normal in its chromosomes
*The egg must come to full maturity
*The brain must provide enough of a surge of LH hormone to stimulate the final phase of egg maturation
*The ovarian egg follicles must burst and release follicular fluid and eggs
*The fallopian tube must gather up the egg
*The sperm must live long enough inside the vagina to enter the cervical mucus, swim to the fallopian tube, and discover the egg
*The sperm must be able to penetrate the cumulus cells surrounding the egg and bind to the external shell (zona pellucida) of the egg
*The sperm must have a biochemical reaction and release the DNA package of 23 chromosomes into the egg
*The fertilized egg must divide
*The embryo must continue the process of division and normal development