As the name implies, secondary infertility refers to experiencing difficulties when trying to get pregnant again after having a successful live birth. While the first pregnancy may have happened easily without interventions, a woman or couple may find that extenuating factors make conceiving harder the second time.
Causes of secondary infertility
As with any infertility case, various factors can contribute to secondary infertility. In some cases, physical impediments can make conception difficult. In women, scarring or other damage in the fallopian tube can prevent the egg from traveling to the uterus. Endometrial scarring can damage surrounding organs and impact ovulation. In men, sperm quality can decline from the first pregnancy to the next. Additionally, older age can also play a significant role.
Other reasons for infertility
Secondary infertility isn’t always caused by obvious reproductive issues. For instance, pregnancy is less likely to occur in women that are actively breastfeeding. Breastfeeding tells the body not to ovulate, meaning that conception will be more difficult while a mother is actively lactating. Factors like weight gain, switching to different dietary plans, or taking medications can also interfere with fertility. In men, non-reproductive issues such as cardiac events, diseases like tuberculosis (TB) or mumps, or chronic problems like diabetes and thyroid disease can throw off fertility.
When to consider help
As with other forms of infertility, age is a significant factor that determines when a woman or couple should seek professional help. In women under 35, if conception doesn’t occur after a year, consider speaking with a fertility specialist to determine if physical or other factors might be preventing pregnancy. In individuals older than 35, trying for 6 months is typically recommended before seeking professional help.
Treating secondary infertility
Causes aside, secondary infertility is usually treated in the same way as other cases where a woman or couple struggles to conceive. Depending on any underlying health or reproductive concerns, along with age, participants might be encouraged to take ovulation stimulants, consider intrauterine insemination (IUI), or attempt in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. If physical issues are preventing eggs or sperm from moving freely, corrective surgeries might be recommended. A secondary infertility diagnosis doesn’t mean that people can’t have children. Concerned individuals should speak with a fertility specialist to better understand available solutions.