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Couples who had previously been able to conceive naturally and have given birth without experiencing reproductive concerns or infertility may be unwelcomely surprised by secondary infertility. But not many know that it is totally treatable. So, let’s understand more about it like the causes of secondary infertility in females, the causes of secondary infertility in males, and of course, the treatment for secondary infertility.

What is Secondary Infertility?

When a woman has already conceived naturally or given birth to a child, secondary infertility refers to her inability to conceive or become pregnant again. Either partner or both of them may be accountable for secondary infertility. But don’t worry, treatment for Secondary Infertility is possible owing to the advancements in medical field.

Secondary Infertility

Difference Between Primary and Secondary Infertility

The term “infertility” is more frequently used to describe primary infertility. Signs of Secondary Infertility are when a couple is unable to conceive after previously becoming pregnant, this is known as secondary infertility. Secondary infertility symptoms typically include a condition when a couple is unable to conceive after trying for 6 to 12 months.

What are Secondary Infertility Causes?

Infertility problems in either the male, female or both partners might be a contributing factor in secondary infertility. Signs of secondary infertility could be in either of the partner. Let’s address each one in detail.

What are the causes of secondary infertility in females?

One third of all cases of secondary infertility are caused by problems in the female partner. What are the root causes? Our medical professionals provide insight:

1. Advanced Age (Above 35 Years)

Why is it among the top secondary infertility causes? After the age of 35, a woman’s fertility begins to drop due to ovarian ageing leading to diminished egg quality and reduced implantation rate. And she may face issues in conceiving the second child, if planned after this age.

2. Endometriosis

This syndrome is characterized by the growth of tissue that resembles uterine lining in the body outside the womb. It may make it difficult to get pregnant. Also Secondary Infertility symptoms here include excessively painful periods/menstruation.

3. Blocked Fallopian Tubes

Pelvic infectious diseases like tuberculosis, Chlamydia or gonorrhea can damage the fallopian tube that transfers eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.

4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

A hormonal condition which results in irregular or protracted menstrual cycles in women. Multiple small follicles produceexcess testosterone levels may also be present in PCOS patients (male hormones). The release of eggs is inhibited in patients with PCOS which leads to infertility.

5. Excess Weight Gain

Your fertility may also be impacted by an increase in BMI and/or certain medicines, which can cause ovarian malfunction resulting in secondary infertility causes.

Excess Weight Gain

What are the causes of secondary infertility in males?

Another third of all cases of infertility are caused by problems with the male spouse. Our medical experts share what these could be:

1. Advanced Age (Above 40 Years)

After age 40, semen quality often deteriorates. Therefore, there can be diminished sperm motility, quality and inability of the sperm to fertilize the egg. This is among the top secondary infertility causes.

2. Low Testosterone Level

A crucial factor in the generation of sperm is testosterone. Age, damage to the genitalia or the urinary tract, and certain medical diseases can all cause a reduction in testosterone levels.

3. Enlarged Prostate

Sperm count might drop, and ejaculation can be restricted due to prostate enlargement, also called hypertrophy.

4. Late-onset Hypogonadism

An age-related drop in testosterone results in the clinical and biochemical illness known as late-onset Hypogonadism (LOH) in aging men. The link between LOH and unsuccessful sexual and reproductive efforts is widely known.

5. Excessive Weight Gain

According to medical professionals, every 20 more pounds a guy puts on increases his risk of infertility by 10%.

6. Lifestyle

Smoking, alcohol and occupational hazards- exposure to chemicals, heat etc.

Smoking

7. Systemic diseases

Diabetes hypertension and anti-hypertensive medicines affect fertility

What are Secondary Infertility Symptoms?

The major symptom of secondary infertility is the inability to conceive naturally or bring a child to term after a prior successful pregnancy and delivery after trying for 12 months. Since secondary infertility can result from a number of underlying disorders, some of which we have previously discussed, it may manifest as a variety of additional symptoms depending on your individual diagnosis.

Treatment for Secondary Infertility for Women

 1. Oral Medication

There are a number of oral drugs that help women with ovulation disorders by releasing the hormones that stimulate the egg development.

2. Uterine Surgery

It helps in removing abnormal growths in the uterus that aren’t desirable and reduce fertility, such as fibroids, polyps, endometriosis etc.

3. In-Vitro Fertilization

In IVF Treatment, more than one egg is developed by giving hormonal injections and these eggs are retrieved. One sperm is injected inside a healthy sperm and embryos are formed which are transferred inside the uterus.

Treatment for Secondary Infertility for Men

1. Lifestyle modification

Alcohol, tobacco and smoking affect the sperm quality and damage the DNA in the sperms leading to infertility, hence lifestyle modification is necessary and are the first step to treating male infertility.

 2. IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)

IUI Treatment, which is frequently used when men’s sperm counts and motility are low, involves directly inserting sperm after washing into a woman’s uterus. Additionally, this also raises hopes for women who have cervical mucus that is not receptive.

3. Supplements

While medication therapy can enhance semen quality, antioxidants and anti-aging vitamins can increase male fertility.

Supplements

Summarizing…

Both cases – primary and secondary Infertility — managing each one of them can be equally demanding and emotionally taxing. So, in addition to getting medical care and counseling, ensure that you support your partner individually as well as via family and friends.

FAQs

Q. How common is secondary infertility?

A. As per medical experts, secondary infertility is as common as primary infertility. 

Q. Is secondary fertility curable?

A. Many couples who are diagnosed with secondary infertility go on to have successful future pregnancies because it is treatable as per individual secondary infertility causes. A thorough work up by an Infertility expert is the first step to be taken.

Q. What are the signs of secondary infertility?

A. Usually, secondary infertility is identified after six to twelve months of unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant. Recurrent pregnancy loss is a disorder in which individuals and couples can have a conception but are unable to take the pregnancy to term.

Dr Shefali Jain

Dr. Shefali Jain is Gynecologist, Obstetrician & Infertility Specialist in Indore with more than 27 years of experience in the field of ART with highest success rate. She has received many awards for her exceptional work in the field of infertility. She has been an invited speaker to many national and international conferences.

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