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Lesser Known Type of Infertility

When defining infertility, a picture of a person or couple unable to have a first child comes to mind. In fact, there are two types of infertility many fail to consider. These are primary and secondary infertility. Both cases result in a couple struggling to conceive. So what’s the difference between the two?

ReUnite Rx What's the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Infertility?

First-time challenges

Primary infertility refers to a person or couple unable to have a first child. The couple must try for 12 or more months without success. If over the age of 35, the window drops to 6 or more months of trying. About 12% of couples experience infertility issues in the US. In fact, 9% of males and 12% of females have known infertility problems.

Second time’s not the charm

Surprisingly, couples with one or more children can still experience infertility. Secondary infertility refers to a couple unable to conceive after having one or more full-term pregnancy. Secondary infertility can be very confusing. How can a couple suddenly become infertile?

Same problems, different case

The main difference between the two cases is the fact that one group already has a family. However, the problems causing infertility are the same for both infertility cases. Poor sperm quality and motility and blocked fallopian tubes can happen between pregnancies. Conditions like endometriosis or PCOS can develop at any stage of life.

Changes since the last pregnancy

Couples struggling with secondary infertility may have experienced life changes that make conceiving difficult a second or third time. For instance, weight gain, stress, smoking, or alcohol consumption all affect fertility. Another big factor can be age. The timeframe between the first and second attempt reduces success rates. Women over 35 have increased chances for infertility as both egg quantity and quality declines.

Primary complications cause secondary issues

Secondary infertility can develop as a result of complications during a previous pregnancy. For example, a c-section could cause internal scars, which could impact reproductive organs. So while primary infertility can be unexplained, secondary infertility can be inadvertently inflicted.

Getting answers

Regardless of type, infertility brings serious emotional strain. The important thing is getting the support of loved ones and experienced professionals. Treatments for both primary and secondary infertility are the same. Doctors can assess the man and woman and seek out the root cause of infertility. Then a range of solutions including medication, surgery or ART can improve the chances of conception. Couples struggling with infertility can speak with a fertility specialist for diagnoses and treatment options.

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