Secondary infertility is a condition that affects individuals or couples who have successfully conceived and given birth to one or more children, but face challenges when trying to conceive again. Unlike primary infertility, where a couple has never achieved a pregnancy, secondary infertility can be an unexpected and emotionally challenging experience. 

Secondary Infertility— What Is It?

The phenomenon of secondary infertility often prompts a closer look at the causes, risk factors, and coping strategies associated with this condition. Here at Carolinas Fertility Institute, we are here to support individuals and couples whether they’re dealing with primary or secondary infertility.  

Causes of Secondary Infertility

There are a number of things that could cause secondary infertility. Recognizing these factors is the first step in getting the correct help you need when you and your partner are trying to conceive. 

As individuals age, fertility tends to decline. Even if a person or couple had no issues conceiving in the past, advancing age can affect both male and female fertility. In women, the quantity and quality of eggs diminish over time, while men may experience a decline in sperm quality.

Changes in Reproductive Health

Various health conditions can impact reproductive health. For women, conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and uterine fibroids may develop over time and affect fertility. In men, factors such as changes in sperm production or quality may contribute to difficulties in conception.

Previous Pregnancy Complications

Complications during a previous pregnancy, such as preeclampsia or postpartum complications, can influence future fertility. Scar tissue from cesarean sections or other surgical interventions may also play a role in hindering conception.

Lifestyle Factors

Changes in lifestyle, including weight gain, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, or increased stress, can impact fertility. Unhealthy habits that may not have affected fertility during a previous conception may become influential over time.

Unexplained Causes

In some cases, the reasons for secondary infertility remain unexplained. Despite thorough medical evaluations, doctors may not identify a specific cause for the challenges in conceiving again.

Risk Factors

Similarly to causes of secondary infertility, there are also a number of risk factors that could cause infertility in the female or male partner. 

Previous Pregnancy History

Individuals who have experienced complications during a previous pregnancy, such as miscarriages or stillbirths, may face an elevated risk of secondary infertility.

Interval Between Pregnancies

A short or prolonged interval between pregnancies can impact fertility. Too short a gap may not allow the body sufficient time to recover, while a lengthy gap may increase age-related fertility challenges.

Health Conditions

Preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, or autoimmune diseases, can contribute to secondary infertility.

Coping Strategies

Secondary infertility can be particularly challenging, as individuals or couples experiencing this have successfully conceived before, making the difficulty in conceiving again emotionally distressing. This can lead to feelings of frustration, disappointment, and confusion.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Consulting with a fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist is crucial for understanding the specific challenges and potential causes of secondary infertility. Medical professionals can conduct comprehensive assessments, including hormonal tests, imaging studies, and evaluations of reproductive health.

Emotional Support

Coping with secondary infertility can be emotionally taxing. Seeking support from friends, family, or infertility support groups can provide a crucial outlet for expressing feelings, sharing experiences, and gaining insights from others who have faced similar challenges.

Exploring Treatment Options

Depending on the underlying causes, various fertility treatments may be recommended. These can include fertility medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), or other assisted reproductive technologies. Discussing these options with a fertility specialist helps individuals or couples make informed decisions based on their unique circumstances.

Secondary infertility is a complex challenge that affects individuals or couples who have successfully conceived in the past. Luckily, with advancements in reproductive medicine, many individuals facing secondary infertility can find hope and support on their path to parenthood. At Carolinas Fertility Institute, we are dedicated to helping you build your family with personalized care and attention. If you are struggling to get pregnant or have more questions about secondary infertility, we can work with you to devise a personalized treatment plan. Call us at (336) 448-9100 to make an appointment in the Triad or (844) 686-2233 for our Charlotte office.