WHAT IS SECONDARY INFERTILITY?
Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive after giving birth to at least one child before without any medical intervention. Secondary infertility can be very confusing. Most people believe that being able to conceive once or more automatically means that they would not need any help getting pregnant again. A study published in 2018 stated that secondary infertility is more common that primary fertility (where pregnancy has not occurred at all). Couples who experience secondary fertility are less likely to visit a fertility clinic or consult a fertility doctor because they believe that if they keep trying, the woman will conceive, after all they have done it before.
Secondary infertility can be caused by the same factors responsible for primary infertility. These could be:
- Impaired sperm production, function or delivery
- Damage to the fallopian tube
- Ovulation problems
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Health problems that were not present during the first pregnancy could lead to secondary infertility, such as an underlying fertility problem that has worsened over time. Age is also a major cause of secondary infertility. Fertility decreases with age. If a woman has her first child in her mid 30s and is trying to have her second child in her late 30s, the chances of secondary infertility occurring are significantly higher than those of a younger woman.
Treatments for secondary fertility are the same for primary fertility. They include;
- Fertility drugs and medication. This is usually the first stage of treatment for most fertility cases. In most cases, both primary and secondary infertility can be treated with fertility drugs and injections prescribed by a fertility doctor. If the underlying problem is more serious, the other forms of assisted reproductive techniques are recommended.
- In Vitro Fertilization. This is the most common of all assisted reproductive techniques. IVF involves fertilizing the sperm and egg in lab and implanting the fertilized embryo into the uterus of the mother or surrogate.
Other ARTs includes; Intra Uterine Insemination, In Vitro Maturation, Testicular Sperm Aspiration, etc.
Secondary infertility can be mentally stressful and draining. Most couples won’t think of visiting a fertility clinic when they experience it. It is advisable to speak to a fertility expert if you have been trying for a year (for women under the age of 35) or for six months (for women above the age of 35) to conceive, if you have had other children in the past. Delaying seeking for help could make the underlying issue worsen. It is perfectly okay to seek a little help in achieving your dream family.