Why Can’t We Get Pregnant This Time?
Some couples have one or more children with little effort. Since getting pregnant was successful previously, people often believe that the next pregnancy will be the same. Therefore, an infertility diagnosis can come as a shock. Being unable to conceive after previously giving birth is called secondary infertility. In other words, secondary infertility is the inability to get pregnant naturally after having a child before. Studies estimate that 40% of infertility cases are secondary infertility.
Causes of secondary infertility
Age plays a significant role in fertility. Pregnancy becomes more difficult from age 35 and above, especially for women. Over time, reproductive health also changes. Hormonal imbalances, reproductive organ disorders, poor sperm health, and lifestyle factors affect pregnancy. In some cases, the reason could be unexplained. There are no clear signs of infertility with unexplained infertility from either party.
Secondary infertility is often overlooked, with many couples encouraged to keep trying. However, many couples may need further treatment. For example, hormone medication can help men and women improve reproductive health. These drugs, along with lifestyle changes like weight management and diet, can improve the chances of pregnancy. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another helpful option. A doctor will medically insert a prepared sperm sample into the woman’s uterus to improve the chances of pregnancy. If these fail, secondary infertility patients can benefit from assisted reproductive technology.
Can ART help?
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a series of techniques used to improve pregnancy. Reproductive material, meaning eggs and sperm, is handled by highly-trained specialists outside of the body. ART usually involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) and several different methods similar to IVF.
IVF and ICSI
IVF starts by collecting a sperm sample from the man and multiple eggs from the woman. The woman may require fertility medication to produce these eggs. Once the clinic collects the materials, eggs and sperm are combined to create embryos. A doctor then surgically transfers the best embryo into the woman’s uterus. In some cases, the clinic uses a single sperm to fertilize the egg. This advanced form of ART is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Both IVF and ICSI have high success rates.
Expanding your horizons
There are some cases where IVF using the couple’s reproductive material may not be enough. Frozen embryo transfer (FET) is an option. The clinic can use a previously frozen embryo or a donor embryo. The embryo is thawed and placed in the woman’s uterus following the IVF process. Donor eggs, donor sperm, and surrogacy are other options using assisted reproductive technology.
Trust in ART
These procedures are powerful as the chances of pregnancy increase significantly. On average, patients can expect high success rates. With any procedure, there are possible risks and these should be discussed with a reproductive specialist. Secondary infertility is confusing and distressing. With the power of ART, growing a family is within reach.