The cause of unexplained fertility in 80% of couples trying for a baby has been discovered by research scientists at Queen’s University Belfast.
Around 50,000 couples in the UK undergo fertility treatment each year and over one third are told that they have unexplained infertility.
The new research, carried out by Professor Sheena Lewis from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's discovered that around 80% of couples who are diagnosed with unexplained or idiopathic infertility have a known cause called high sperm DNA damage.
Professor Lewis commented;
"The majority of couples experiencing problems with fertility are able to receive an explanation for their infertility. These causes range from low sperm count, poor sperm motility in the man to blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis women. Once the causes of infertility have been established the appropriate course of assisted conception treatment can be undertaken.
For almost one third of couples, until now, there has been no obvious cause for infertility and these couples are given the diagnosis of 'unexplained fertility'. These couples often invest a lot of time and money in fertility treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI) that are unlikely to be successful. In our study we have now had a breakthrough which explains the cause of infertility for many of those couples. Now that we have found the cause of infertility for many of those couples suitable treatments can be tailored for them which will increase their chances of having a baby."