Secondary infertility occurs when a couple has had at least one child, but are unable to conceive again after at least one year of having unprotected sex.
Secondary infertility is often very stressful for the couple as they might not have imagined difficulty in conceiving again after their other child(ren).
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Primary infertility is as common as secondary infertility. Primary infertility occurs when a couple has never had children and are finding it difficult to get pregnant.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 11% of couples who already have a child go on to experience secondary infertility. That’s approximately 4 million families or about half of all infertility cases.
Causes of Secondary Infertility
Secondary infertility is mostly caused by the same problems that led to primary infertility.
- Blocked Fallopian tubes
- Male infertility due to low or absent sperm count
- Recurrent miscarriage
- Endometrium complications
- Immunological issues
- Adhesions of uterine scaring
- Hostile cervical mucus
Other causes of secondary fertility may include:
- Unhealthy lifestyle changes such as chain-smoking and/or excessive intake of alcohol also affect the fertility levels among males and females. Take up healthy lifestyle habits along with consuming fruits and vegetables.
- Thyroid disorders, diabetes, excessive intake of medicines, poor nutrition, sexually transmitted infections, constant exposure to heat, environmental changes, retrograde ejaculation, clotting disorders, complications in the prior pregnancy also lead to secondary infertility
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Contrary to most beliefs, the cause of infertility isn’t only common among the females. About one-third of infertility cases are related to male infertility.
Risk Factors for Secondary Infertility
There are some risk factors to consider when dealing with secondary infertility:
Age: Fertility naturally declines as you age. If you had your first child at 35, and you’re trying for a second at 38, your chances are low, but still possible.
New partner: If your new partner has an undiagnosed infertility problem, this may affect your chances of having children. However, a person with kids from a prior relationship can still develop a fertility problem.
Weight gain: Weight gain equally affects a person’s chances of getting pregnant. Being obese, overweight or underweight can cause ovulation problems in women, and possible impact sperm health in men.
Issue with last pregnancy: You may have developed complications from your last pregnancy or child birth that is stopping you from getting pregnant again. Pelvic infection or multiple D&C procedures may lead to blocked fallopian tubes or uterine adhesions. Women who have had a C-section may develop scar tissue which can affect your fertility.
New health problem: You or your partner may have developed a health problem that is affecting your chances of having more children.
READ ALSO: Infertility and In Vitro Fertilization
When to Seek Help
The fact that you got pregnant in the past doesn’t guarantee you’ll conceive again on your own. You should see a doctor if you are under than 35 years old and you fail to conceive after one year of trying. Those who are 35 years and above should get help after six months of trying without success.
You should seek help too if you experience two consecutive miscarriages.
Don’t procrastinate getting help as soon as possible because delaying to get medical attention can cause infertility case to deteriorate over time. Delaying help may reduce your odds of pregnancy success.
Diagnosing and Treating Secondary Infertility
Testing for secondary infertility is the same as that for primary infertility. Both the man and woman need to be examined irrespective of whether one partner has had a child or children.
Treatments for secondary infertility are the same as for primary infertility. Treatments may include:
- Fertility drugs often starting with Clomid
- Injectable fertility drugs, known as gonadotropins
- Laparoscopic surgery to repair blocked fallopian tubes, or to remove fibroids or endometriosis deposits.
Image source: momjunction.com
Article source: verywellfamily.com, thehealthsite.com
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