Many people assume that their fertility worries are over once they have successfully conceived, carried and given birth to their first child. However, even if you had no issue falling pregnant the first or subsequent times, infertility can affect you later in life. While ageing is often a factor in secondary infertility, there are many other factors that can make it harder to add a little brother or sister to your family.
What Is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is the extreme difficulty or inability to become pregnant or successfully carry a pregnancy despite having given birth before. Secondary infertility can be a major shock for women and couples who had no troubles or complications with their earlier births.
The important thing to remember is that secondary infertility is actually more common than primary infertility. It can also take a lot of time to naturally fall pregnant in some cases, up to two years and your experience wont always reflect your previous pregnancy.
However, if you are concerned about secondary fertility you should see a specialist as soon as possible.
Common Causes and Risk Factors
The causes of secondary infertility are generally no different to primary infertility. After an initial consultation, your fertility specialist may order tests to look for:
- changes in sperm size, shape, number and mobility for men
- other male infertility factors, including the presence of varicoceles and tubal patency in the male reproductive tubes
- hormonal imbalances in men and women
- fallopian tube damage, blockages, scarring, etc. in women
- ovulation disorders
- other female infertility factors, such as maternal age and egg quality and numbers
There are also several risk factors that may increase the likelihood of secondary infertility, including:
- lifestyle changes such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse
- ageing, particularly in women over 35 (and especially over 40)
- significant weight loss or gain
- changes in medication
- the development or polyps, fibroids or other new concerns
- a lack of prenatal care in the previous pregnancy
- the first pregnancy occurring at a young age (before 21 years)
- previous pregnancy complications or adverse outcomes
Treating Secondary Infertility
Just like with primary infertility, your treatment options will depend on the cause of your secondary infertility. In some cases, its helpful to think about whats changed since your previous pregnancy, whether its age, lifestyle factors, weight, surgery or sickness. You may be able to address some of these things yourself but specialist assistance may be required in many cases.
Potential treatment options include:
- In Vitro Fertilisation this may be the best option if male fertility problems or female complications related to the fallopian tubes are the cause of secondary infertility. Statistically speaking, IVF is more successful in women who have had a child compared to those who have not
- Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) the process of injecting a single male sperm into the womans egg, usually completed as an extra element of IVF treatment. This procedure is used when male infertility factors are present. [link selected text to new ICSI page]
Find out More Today
When it comes to secondary infertility, timing is a critical factor in successful diagnosis and treatment. To get the help you need, talk to our fertility and IVF specialist in East Melbourne. Dr Alex Polyakov guides you through the entire journey, from diagnosis to conception and delivery. For support and advice, contact Dr Alex today.