Why Can’t We Conceive Again?
Overjoyed with starting a family, couples sometimes decide to have a second child. What happens when, after months of trying, the couple cannot get pregnant? A wave of confusion and frustration creeps in. What’s wrong? Secondary infertility is a serious condition affecting many couples.
A secondary cause for concern
Secondary infertility refers to any person unable to get pregnant a second time. Studies show an average of 10% of women have difficulty getting pregnant again. The first pregnancy could have been natural or through assisted reproductive technology (ART) like in vitro fertilization (IVF). Nevertheless, after months of trying, another child seems impossible. Secondary infertility happens for the same reasons as primary infertility. The reasons could be male-related, female-related, or just unexplained. A lot can happen between attempts, and the causes are wide and varied.
Understanding fallopian tube damage
The fallopian tubes form part of the ovaries. These tubes are responsible for transporting eggs and sperm up and down the womb. Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes prevent eggs from becoming fertilized and implanted in the womb. Women can find the problem difficult to understand if pregnancy was possible before. But a lot can happen since the first pregnancy. For example, a c-section can cause scarring that damages the uterus and fallopian tubes. Conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ectopic pregnancies could have also caused harm.
How to safely check the tubes
A detailed assessment of the tubes could help determine the root cause of secondary infertility. Doctors can use a technique called a hysterosalpingography (HSG) to check the fallopian tubes. The x-ray test sends water- or oil-based liquid through the tubes to detect damage or blockages. An HSG could also double as tubal flushing, which doctors have observed helps with pregnancy. Fallopian tube damage continues to be a common reason for secondary infertility.
Low sperm count the second time around
People often blame secondary infertility on women. But male factor infertility issues, like low sperm count, equally cause secondary infertility. A man could have a sperm count of over 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen, which is considered borderline low. Even a count of 20 million reduces the success rate to 35%. Sperm count contributes to many male infertility cases.
The many causes of low sperm
Sperm count is fickle and low sperm count happens easily. The easiest indicator is lifestyle changes between the last pregnancy. Alcohol, diet changes, or medication can create low sperm count. One common factor is varicocele, a condition blocking veins in the testicles. Other reasons could be environmental or an undetected issue like cancer. Getting a complete sperm, blood, and physical assessment could reveal the reasons behind low sperm count and secondary infertility.
There is hope again
Secondary infertility may not get as much attention as primary fertility. Yet parents suffering from fallopian tube damage or low sperm count know how serious the condition can be. Close to 3 million could be suffering from secondary infertility yearly. Luckily, fertility treatments, including lifestyle changes, surgery, medication, and ART, make having another baby possible. Consult a fertility specialist or healthcare provider to find treatment options for secondary infertility.