Secondary infertility refers to the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after previously giving birth to one or more children. It is different from primary infertility, which is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term in a couple who has never had a child.
What are the causes of secondary infertility?
Common causes of secondary infertility include:
- Age-related factors: As a woman gets older, her fertility naturally declines. This can make it more difficult to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term.
- Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorders, can interfere with ovulation and fertility.
- Structural abnormalities in the reproductive system: Conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis, or scarring from previous surgeries can block or damage the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for an egg to be fertilized or for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.
- Lifestyle factors: Obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and chronic stress can all impair fertility.
In some cases, no specific cause can be identified for secondary infertility. It’s important for couples experiencing this condition to speak with a doctor to determine the underlying cause and discuss potential treatment options.
Secondary infertility treatment
The treatment of secondary infertility will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. Some common treatments for secondary infertility include:
- Medications: In some cases, fertility medications can be used to stimulate ovulation or improve sperm production. These medications can be taken orally or injected, and they are often used in combination with other treatments.
- Assisted reproductive technologies (ART): ART refers to a group of techniques used to help couples conceive, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). In IVF, eggs are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory, and the resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus. In IUI, sperm are placed directly in the uterus, increasing the chances of fertilization.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair structural abnormalities in the reproductive system that are causing infertility. This can include procedures to repair blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, remove fibroids, or correct endometriosis.
- Lifestyle changes: Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight if you are overweight, quitting smoking, reducing stress, and exercising regularly, can improve fertility and increase the chances of conceiving.
It’s important to discuss all of your treatment options with a doctor to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
If you’re trying to have more kids but are unsuccessful at conceiving, talk to your OB-GYN. They can diagnose the cause, as well as outline the right treatment plan that can help you get pregnant.