“What? There is no cause for my inability to conceive? After all those tests you still can’t give me any answers?!”
Approximately one in five couples will experience unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up. The emotional response to hearing, “There is no apparent reason for your infertility” can be difficult, maddening and frustrating. Couples who do find out a specific cause find their situations difficult, too, of course, but knowing the “whys” makes it more bearable. In cases of unexplained infertility, couples feel that one reason, one cause is lurking in a shadowy corner. It just hasn’t been uncovered yet.
Unfortunately, guilt is one of the pervading feelings. You may feel a sense of guilt individually or collectively as a couple. Some of these guilt feelings may go unspoken because of a previous abortion, because you took so long to even begin trying to have children, or because you are convinced that your anxiety and obsession with your infertility may be the cause of it.
As a couple, you may feel different from your infertile friends who know the cause of their problem and are concentrating their efforts and energy on finding the best treatment. You may also feel different because friends and family members can’t seem to stop sending you articles about some cutting edge treatment or some new fertility center. The underlying message is that if you go to the “right” clinic or the “right” doctors, they will find out what is wrong and fix it.
This is what you need to remember: You are doing everything you can, you are seeing the best doctor and you are becoming an educated consumer. Some diseases and medical conditions defy explanation. They just happen. The term “unexplained infertility” really reflects the present limitations of medical science. The fact is that current technology does not have the tools for revealing the cause of your infertility.
It is extremely difficult for those with unexplained infertility to know when to stop looking for a cause, to say “enough is enough.” You may feel you are entering a state of limbo. You may feel stuck unable to grieve and get on with other options because you hang on to those slender threads of hope that the cause of your infertility will be revealed in the next test or treatment. Your sadness may intensify as time passes and you find no medical or emotional resolution.