Secondary fertility occurs after a woman has successfully carried a baby to term and given birth without difficulty or any medical intervention. If a woman is unable to conceive or carry a baby to term after having a child successfully, they may be experiencing secondary infertility.
Who Does it Affect?
This condition is prevalent in the United States and currently affects approximately three million women. Primary infertility is the inability to carry a child to term or conceive without ever experiencing a successful pregnancy. The causes related to secondary infertility are typically similar to those that cause primary infertility.
It can be very alarming and disheartening to experience infertility. It is caused by several underlying factors and may be easily treated. There may also be other causes that are more difficult to treat. Thankfully, many physicians out there are skilled in treating and responding to issues and symptoms related to infertility.
There are many factors that may cause secondary infertility, including:
- Reproductive system complications: Complications can include endometriosis, abnormalities with fallopian tubes, ovulation disorders, pelvic adhesions, and intrauterine adhesions. All of the aforementioned issues can make it extremely difficult to carry a pregnancy to term or even to conceive.
- Issues occurring after surgery or following pregnancy.
- Infertility related to male reproductive system: Sperm count and quality decrease over the male lifespan. Male sperm count and quality can also be caused by exposure to heat and pollutants. These factors may affect a man’s ability to help their partner conceive.
- Increased age at reproduction: Egg quality and egg quantity decrease over the female lifespan. After age 30, women have 12 percent of the number of eggs they were born with. This may make it increasingly difficult to conceive.
- Factors related to lifestyle: Weight gain, diet, smoking, certain medications and alcohol abuse are factors that can affect both a woman’s and a man’s ability to conceive. They cause interruptions in the ovulation process for women and decrease male sperm count.
- Causes that are unexplained: It may be possible that there is no diagnoseable cause for infertility.
Treatment for Secondary Infertility
There are several treatment options for individuals who are experiencing secondary infertility.
Options may include the following:
- Intrauterine insemination: This is accomplished by putting a semen sample directly in the uterus during a woman’s ovulation period. This allows the sperm sample to be as close as possible to the fallopian tubes, allowing the best chance for fertilization and ultimately conception.
- Infertility medications: Medications may be used in order to stimulate ovaries, which may allow for more eggs to be released.
- In vitro fertilization: This procedure involves combining the sperm and egg outside of the uterus to develop an embryo. The embryo is then implanted directly into the uterus. In vitro fertilization can be accomplished by using donor eggs and sperm or the couple’s own sperm and eggs.
Every couple is unique and each treatment discussed above may not be right for all couples. There are unique factors related to every couple’s inability to conceive. It is important to remember to work with a skilled medical professional that has experience working with and successfully treating infertility.