Unexplained infertility is an awful sort of limbo, isn’t it? Many years ago, one of our Creating a Family online community members said it well and we’ve never forgotten her poignant words:
I would rather be told “you can’t have kids” than be told, “there is no reason why you can’t have kids, but it could happen at any time.”
She went on to tell us about living every day with the thought that “this could be the month” while constantly tracking fertile days in her head. And then how she cried each month when her period came. She felt sure that it would be easier to know that pregnancy was out of the question or at least very unlikely with the weight of a doctor’s certainty to it. The open-ended wondering of unexplained infertility was too much to bear.
Craving a Diagnosis
Do you find yourself craving the certainty of a diagnosis, too? Would it be easier to move forward with your life if you knew why you couldn’t get pregnant? Even with a diagnosis, you often don’t know for sure what your chances of pregnancy might be, we know. At least you have general statistics to fall back on when you have a diagnosis. That notation in the medical chart can give some resolution to many. But indeed, not everyone struggling with unexplained infertility finds a written-out diagnosis to be the answer they need.
Needing A Final Answer
At a certain point, the nebulous torment of not knowing why she couldn’t conceive was enough for our friend in the online support group. She decided it was time for her to take matters into her own hands. She needed to make a plan that created a final answer:
Five months ago – after trying to conceive for 10 and half years (at age 32), I decided to tie my tubes. Seems silly when you spend 10 years crying over every missed period, always wondering, and hoping. Timing your sex sessions with your hubby. I made the choice to stop the monthly torment, to stop the ever-consuming thoughts.
I have 4 children [from foster care adoption] that call me mom. I am blessed. I still struggle some days – but like I said, I would rather be told, “NO, you can’t have kids.”
Before I went into the surgery, I asked the surgeon (who is also a friend of mine) to please come in and check on me. And when he did – I wanted to hear the words “you can’t have kids anymore.”
Unexplained Infertility Is Agony
There are many causes for couples or singles being unable to get pregnant — hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, “old eggs,” low sperm count, etc. But up to 30% of infertile couples never know the reason for their inability to conceive. They are ultimately diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
For so many reasons, unexplained infertility is an agonizing diagnosis.
There’s nothing to Google.
We don’t know about you, but our favorite doctor is Dr. Google.
- She is available 24/7 without on-call services intervening.
- Our insurance plans fully covers our online sessions with her.
- She is infinitely patient with our many questions and late-night hours.
But. The problem with Dr. Google is that she needs a diagnosis. Oh, you can Google individual symptoms all you want. However, when your primary symptom is “can’t get pregnant,” the search results rank in the millions. None of them seem to fit your circumstances exactly. Without a concrete diagnosis, you are left to read pages of general advice that likely don’t apply to you.
There’s nothing to DO.
The other agonizing thing about unexplained infertility is how little you can DO about it. Not only do you have nothing to Google, but you have nothing specific about which to read. There are no more home remedies to try and no other lifestyle changes to tackle. You don’t even have a comprehensive treatment plan to follow. It feels like everyone, including your infertility doctor, is just guessing.
We get it – we are such an action-oriented culture. When faced with a challenge, we make our To-Do lists. We ask around for recommendations for the right specialists. We make appointments with said specialists, and we have a date on the calendar that marks the start of a PLAN. Then we work that plan.
Unexplained infertility is infuriatingly unactionable.
It’s harder to move forward.
One of the cruelest parts of the diagnosis of unexplained infertility is that no one can tell you definitive odds of ultimately conceiving a baby. Each month feels like a crapshoot. Maybe you’ll get pregnant; perhaps you won’t.
All this not knowing makes it hard for patients to make educated decisions about how to proceed. So many questions come up:
- Should I try another cycle of IVF?
- Would PGD make a difference?
- Should I save my money for donor eggs
- Is this the time to consider adoption?
The Possibility of Pregnancy Might Always Linger
When you struggle with unexplained infertility, it’s common to feel like your dreams of pregnancy still linger in the back of your mind. Shifting your focus to becoming a parent through third-party reproduction or by adoption doesn’t always fulfill the dream of conception.
Another member of our online support group said it so well:
I think [unexplained infertility] makes it harder to “resolve” your infertility. If we had a diagnosis, even if it meant we knew we could never have bio kids, at least we could close that chapter. As it stands now, we could possibly get pregnant someday, but there’s just no telling. It kind of always hangs overhead, even as we’ve become parents by adoption.
If any of this sounds like your experiences, give yourself some grace to navigate the lurking emotions. Resolving your unexplained infertility might not mean never dealing with the myriad feelings ever again. Instead, it might mean acknowledging those unresolved emotions that exist and choosing to find another path for your dreams of a family to unfold anyway.
Image Credits: Vitor Esteves; utpal.; Rawpixel Ltd.