Secondary Infertility (Causes, Treatment): All You Want to Know
A prior successful conception and consequent pregnancy often set the tone for a successful road to parenthood. However, many couples experience infertility even after having conceived once before.
Researchers call this secondary infertility, a condition in which women find it difficult to become pregnant or carry a baby even after having successfully delivered once or twice. Secondary infertility after miscarriage during the first or second instance is also common.
Many couples question the difference between primary and secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is somewhat similar to primary infertility when it comes to the causes and symptoms. However, specialists diagnose secondary infertility only when the couple has had children in the past without any fertility treatments.
Doctors diagnose secondary infertility if a couple has been unable to conceive despite unprotected sex for six months to a year.
Is Secondary Infertility a Common Problem?
Secondary infertility is a problem that can affect both men and women. This is because fertility levels can change even after a couple conceives. Secondary infertility usually comes as a surprise, which can result in a flurry of emotions, including frustration, guilt, sadness or feelings of hopelessness.
The good news is that there are many effective treatments for secondary infertility.“Try, try, try again till you succeed” is not something fertility specialists typically advise couples planning a second child.
How Common is Secondary Fertility?
Secondary infertility is a reality that many couples face while planning parenthood. As per studies, this problem affects ten percent of couples due to reasons similar to primary infertility.
How Do You Get Secondary Infertility?
So, what are the causes of secondary infertility? The truth is that many things can cause this issue. Here are the most common causes.
- Hormonal imbalances – Imbalances in reproductive hormones can result in disorders, thus, affecting a woman’s ovulation cycle adversely.
- Uterine disorders, including endometriosis – Uterine problems can be inflammatory, congenital or benign.
- Blockage in the fallopian tubes – Untreated sexually transmitted infections or complications due to unsafe abortion or abdominal surgery can cause tubal disorders like blocked fallopian tubes.
- Ovarian disorders (such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and other follicular disorders) – These conditions impede the ovulation process and reduce the chances of pregnancy.
Secondary Infertility in Men
The reasons for secondary infertility in men include:
- Injuries in the genital tract – This can result in blockages.
- Low sperm count – Hormone imbalances result in dysfunctional sperm production.
- Testicular failure – Medical treatments like chemotherapy can impair sperm-producing cells.
- Abnormal sperm function and quality – There can be many reasons, including persistent use of steroids that can cause abnormal sperm shape, count and movement.
- Autoimmune disorders - Couples may also suffer from autoimmune disorders that may cause the healthy tissues to be affected. These, in turn, can impair the working of reproductive tissues. For example, rheumatoid arthritis may affect a woman’s fertility levels by triggering an inflammatory reaction in her uterus and placenta.
The Role of Advanced Age in Secondary Infertility
Among the secondary infertility causes, advanced age is one factor common to both men and women. Many studies have corroborated the hypothesis that age is a significant factor in secondary infertility compared to primary infertility. For example, women over 35 have a significantly lower chance of conceiving than women under 35. That is because the quality of eggs declines significantly with age. Therefore, it’s essential to contact a fertility specialist if you are a woman over the age of 35 and have been unable to conceive despite having frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for six months or more.
Men also experience a reduction in sperm quality with age. Therefore, it’s equally important for men over 35 to contact a fertility specialist if they are experiencing fertility issues.
Secondary Infertility Treatment Options
Many couples often postpone or set aside the idea of secondary infertility treatment. There is a tendency for denial as many couples shy away from discussing their fertility issues. However, timely treatment is recommended to diagnose inherent problems responsible for this disorder. Remember, treatment of infertility problems is possible.
The correct diagnosis is necessary to know the causes, which can help identify the secondary infertility treatment options. Knowing the cause is essential for the right treatment. Fertility specialists will run a series of diagnostic tests to understand the possible cause of secondary infertility. Again, it’s essential for couples hoping to conceive to understand that many factors can hinder their chances of becoming pregnant. However, new medical insights and innovative therapies have helped many couples realize their dreams of becoming parents again.
We advise all couples struggling with getting pregnant a second or third time to see a fertility specialist for an evaluation.
Seek quality treatment
At ART Fertility Clinics, you will get access to the latest treatment methods including in vitro fertilization that aids in the birth of a child. This treatment has yielded unprecedented results for many couples.
In addition, there are many other options, including intrauterine insemination, which involves injecting sperm directly into the uterus.
Our dedicated team of specialists, consultants and embryologists know that secondary infertility is a common problem that can be treated through multiple medicinal therapies and other options. Our facility is equipped with the latest modern technologies that enable us to effectively identify the underlying causes of infertility and treat them accordingly.
If you think you have secondary infertility, please reach out to us today and let’s talk.