Couples believe that once they have had a child, there will be no issues conceiving again and unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Secondary infertility affects 11% of couples who already have children, approximately 4 million families according to the Center for Disease Control.
Many have heard the term “secondary infertility” before but what exactly is it? Well, it is defined as “the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully and naturally conceiving one or more children” (fertilityfactor.com). Most couples who are dealing with secondary infertility are less likely to seek treatment because of the misconception that once you are able to conceive on your own, you will always be fertile.
Infertility is, in all its forms, a private hidden heartbreak. Secondary infertility usually has an explanation, and in many instances sometimes something specific has changed since your last pregnancy.
Common Causes of Secondary Infertility:
- Advanced Reproductive Age – a women’s age is one of the most common reasons which can lead to decrease in egg quality
- Sperm Quality & Quantity – changes in sperm quality and quantity may occur due to changes in health, age and/or new medications. A semen analysis is one of the first things that will be checked during an infertility evaluation
- Infection – STD’s, pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ovulation Issues – when ovulation is either irregular or non-existent – it can be the result of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or premature menopause
- Endometriosis – the condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus and causing pelvic pain
- Fibroids – a benign tumor of muscular and fibrous tissues, typically developing in the wall of the uterus
- Weight Gain – In women, excessive weight can contribute to ovulatory dysfunction and in men it can affect sperm production
- Unhealthy Habits –excessive exercise, smoking and excessive drinking
Whatever the underlying causes for infertility, speaking with a specialist is the best way to narrow down the causes.
When to Seek Treatment
The diagnosis of secondary infertility may be delivered to a couple if they have been trying for one year and the women is less than 35 years of age or if they have been trying for six months and the woman is older than the age of 35. If you experience two or more miscarriages, have irregular, painful periods and any other unusual vaginal discharge it is recommended to see a specialist sooner.
Pregnancy rates for infertile couples have greatly improved over the years, however early diagnosis is critical since there is a strong correlation between age and success rates. Treatment options may include:
Medication: Oral medications are quite common and many practitioners recommend letrozole (Femara) or clomiphene citrate (Clomid). For those who have not heard of Femara or Clomid before, it helps induce ovulation. Most couples will conceive with just oral medications.
IUI (intrauterine insemination) – this treatment involves placing sperm inside a women’s uterus to facilitate fertilization.
IVF (in vitro fertilization) – this treatment involves the removal of an egg that is then joined with sperm and implanted into the uterus.
Egg Donation: If a woman is diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve with no remaining ovarian function, egg donation is an option.
Know that you are not alone in your journey and there is hope for treating secondary infertility issues. Consulting with a fertility specialist, sooner rather than later, is a great first step in obtaining a diagnosis and identifying a treatment option that’s right for you.
About Brown Fertility
With more than 30 years of combined experience and the management of more than 7,000 IVF cycles, Dr. Samuel E. Brown and Dr. Rafael A. Cabrera are dedicated to Conceiving Miracles™. Brown Fertility offers a fully comprehensive array of fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization, egg donation and artificial insemination and is home to Florida’s most state-of-the-art IVF center, which produces some of the highest pregnancy rates in the country. Brown Fertility has earned a reputation for not only producing excellent outcomes and offering affordable treatment options, but also for providing patients with the one-on-one attention and the compassionate care they deserve. Visit www.BrownFertility.com for more information.
Thank you Brown Fertility for sponsoring this post.