What do we know about idiopathic or unexplained infertility in females and males?

When health care providers cannot find a specific or even likely cause for infertility in females or males, they will diagnose the infertility as "idiopathic" or unexplained.

This diagnosis applies to about 30% of female infertility cases1 and about 50% of male infertility cases.2

In some cases, however, knowing the exact cause may not be necessary. The health care provider may begin treatment to improve the chances of conception, including fertility treatments, even if no cause can be identified.


  1. Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2006). Effectiveness and treatment for unexplained infertility. Fertility and Sterility, 86(5 Suppl 1), S111–S114.
  2. Jose-Miller, A. B., Boyden, J. W., & Frey, K. A. (2007). Infertility. American Family Physician, 75, 849–856.
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