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Birla Fertility & IVF

What is Secondary Infertility? Can it be Cured?

  • Published on April 19, 2021
What is Secondary Infertility? Can it be Cured?
What You Must Know About Secondary Infertility

Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. Moreover, a woman can experience all her pregnancies distinctly. Some couples face uncommon issues during their succeeding pregnancy after previous childbirth. This condition is termed as second infertility.

If you are also having trouble becoming a parent the second time, you might not be alone. An estimated 2.75 crore couples in India have infertility issues. Out of this, nearly 82 lakh couples (30% of the total) are already a parent but have trouble conceiving again, meaning they have secondary infertility.

Couples going through secondary infertility face severe emotional stress arising from multiple factors – a feeling that you must be happy with what you have already, fear of jealousy from couples facing primary infertility – and this stress might spill over to the first-born child, troubling their growth years.

In this article, we will understand what primary and secondary infertility are. Furthermore, we will discuss the causes for secondary infertility and treatment options available.

What is Secondary Infertility?

Primary infertility is the inability to give birth to a baby after 12 months of frequent unprotected sexual intercourse.

Secondary infertility is when a woman who was able to conceive previously is having trouble with getting pregnant again. Similar to primary infertility, secondary infertility is not a woman-only problem. Both male and female partners need to undergo tests to identify the problem raising to infertility.

If you have been diagnosed with secondary infertility, your treatment methods will follow similar to that of a patient having primary infertility.

A major difference between primary and secondary infertility is that as a parent, secondary infertility can be surprising to you. You might not seek medical help or treatment, and keep trying because you were able to get pregnant successfully before.

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What are the Causes for Secondary Infertility?

With age, the body and the reproductive system can undergo significant changes due to stress, complications from previous pregnancy and weight gain. Majorly, these are the secondary infertility causes.

Restating a fact, the problem is not necessarily with the female but can be due to the male as well.

Some of the common secondary infertility causes have been listed below. You may have one or more of these issues which can be diagnosed correctly by seeking quality medical care.

Lifestyle Factors : Most common causes for secondary infertility are due to lifestyle changes. You might have started smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, following a poor diet or have a lack of proper exercise. Most couples do not realise that these habits contribute to their infertility after having gone through a successful pregnancy.

Age : Fertility for men and women starts to decline with age. Though successful pregnancies can happen, they are more difficult or may take more time and effort.

Low Sperm Count : Sperm count has been observed to fall with age for males. If you have been trying to father a baby at an age of 40 or above, sperm count might be the issue and this can be solved by opting for other Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).

Diminished Ovarian Reserve : Females are born with a limited ovarian reserve, that is the number of egg cells that can be produced to help with fertilization and successful pregnancy. As with males, on aging, females too have a lesser chance of conceiving due to the natural physiology of the body.

Problems with libido/Ejaculatory Issues : Surgery in the groin area, overexposure to environmental factors like heat and air pollution can cause infertility issues. If you have had surgery, this might be the reason for infertility.

Hormonal Imbalance : Changing lifestyle, or a lack of exercise can cause thyroid disorders which leads to a hormonal imbalance in the body. Such an imbalance affects the optimal setup of the human body and causes infertility issues.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) : PCOS makes the body produce too many hormones, which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. PCOS may also form cysts inside the ovaries, affecting their natural action and hampering fertility.

Endometriosis : Nearly 25 million Indian women suffer from endometriosis. A tissue which lines the uterus grows outside it on the ovary and affects the normal fertilisation process. Scarring from previous pregnancy could be the reason for endometriosis and can be cured clinically.

Uterine Fibroids : Fibroids are non-cancerous tumours which develop inside the uterus. They may vary in size and shape, ranging from a tiny cyst to the size of a small ball. These tumours block the sperm from fertilising with the egg, minimising chances of a pregnancy.

Blocked Fallopian Tubes : Fallopian tubes are the passage for eggs to move from the ovaries to the uterus for fertilisation or implantation of the embryo. If the passage is blocked, the sperm and egg will not be able to fuse, thus causing issues with pregnancy.

Isthmocele : If you are a woman who has had a Cesarean section in a prior pregnancy, you might have scars from the operation. These scars can cause adjoining disorders like endometriosis and lessen chances of conceiving.

Sexually Transmitted Infections : Infections due to unprotected sexual practices can cause any of the aforementioned disorders. These infections can be treated to remove any effects on fertility.

Unexplained Infertility : Medicine and science are advancing rapidly but there are certain disorders for which the cause or cure have not yet been identified. Any couple could be affected by unexplained infertility for which the exact cause is not known. Then again, medical research could soon find a solution for your disorder, so it would be best to consult and stay in touch with trusted doctors.

What is the Secondary Infertility Treatment?

If you have successfully conceived previously, being in such a situation where you have fertility problems, might feel uncomfortable. But identifying the cause and availing treatment is important to conceive again.

Infertility treatment specialists will try to understand your medical history and suggest appropriate tests and treatments.

Generally, the female partner is indicated blood tests, an examination of the uterus, X-rays and Ultrasound scans to identify any issues. Simultaneously, the male partner is tested for reproductive and overall health.

If you are a male, you will put through a blood test, a general investigation of your medical history followed by a semen analysis.

Once the issues have been identified, there are many options for secondary infertility treatment as listed below:

  • Medications to correct hormonal imbalances
  • Surgery for – Endometriosis
    Blocked
    Fallopian Tubes
    Hysteroscopy for Diagnosis of the Uterus

If the above interventions do not help your cause, advanced assisted reproductive techniques can be used. A wide range of options is available including IUI, ICSI, TESE, MESA or In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

How to Cope with Emotional Stress During Secondary Infertility?

Infertility can be tough to handle. If you have secondary infertility, it will be a surprising and uncomfortable experience. A major difference from primary infertility for most couples who have had a successful pregnancy would be the presence of the first child.

  • Do not blame yourself or your partner.
  • Gather more information on your condition and the available treatment methods.
  • Reach out to people who have gone through the same problem and find out how they tackled the situation.
Summary

Secondary infertility can be an overwhelming experience. It can be tough to come to terms with it. However, you should not lose hope and stay positive because a variety of secondary infertility treatments are available. Most of the problems related to infertility can be identified and diagnosed by an experienced infertility treatment specialist.

Reach out to your doctor and understand your condition better. This will help you in deciding how to move forward with a sense of direction. With a few right steps, you could be on your way to having another child very soon.

For more information on secondary infertility issues, visit Birla Fertility & IVF.

Written by:
Dr Prof (Col) Pankaj Talwar, VSM

Dr Prof (Col) Pankaj Talwar, VSM

Director, Medical Services
Dr Pankaj Talwar is one of the most renowned Infertility treatment specialists in India. He brings with him over 29 years of experience with one of the highest success rates in the country across 21,000+ IVF cycles. He is one of the very few gynaecologists who is also a trained embryologist. Dr Pankaj is the Sr Vice President of the Indian Fertility Society and Founder Secretary of Fertility Preservation Society of India. His focus areas include managing failed IVF cycles, managing recurrent implantation failure, Onco- Fertility, Andrology, Sperm function test, Ovarian cortex freezing and Clinical embryology.

Over 32 years of experience

Gurgaon, Haryana

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