Five Facts About Secondary Infertility

Can We Have Another Baby?

If getting pregnant with your first child was a breeze, you may be surprised when your next pregnancy doesn’t happen as easily. If you’re under 35 and have been trying for a year, or 35 or older and have been trying for six months without conceiving, you may have secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is surprising and emotionally upsetting, but it’s also quite common. The causes of secondary fertility are much the same as those of primary infertility, the inability to have a first child. Let’s look at the facts and what you can do to have the baby you want.

Advanced Reproductive Age

The woman’s age is one of the most common causes of secondary infertility. A woman’s ovarian reserve, her supply of eggs, doesn’t stay the same over time. It declines slowly until age 30. Then the decline begins to accelerate, especially over age 35. Studies have found that women younger than 30 had an ongoing pregnancy rate of 25 percent, while in women over 35 it drops to about 10 percent. The fertility rate for women over 40 is only 5 percent. If you’re over 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for six months you may want to consult a fertility specialist.

Structural Problems in the Pelvis

Blockage of the fallopian tubes, which carry the egg from the ovary to the uterus, is another common cause of secondary infertility. These blockages may be caused by endometriosis, prior abdominal surgeries, or complications from the first delivery. Adhesions in the uterus or around the fallopian tubes can also make it difficult to get pregnant.

Male Factor Infertility: Is It Him?

In olden days, infertility was thought to be only a woman’s problem, but modern science has found that 30 percent of infertility is due to a male factor. Men may have impaired sperm production, lower quality sperm, sperm that can’t penetrate an egg, or may be unable to deliver the sperm where it needs to be for you to get pregnant. Men’s sperm don’t age as rapidly as women’s eggs do, but they do have a greater chance of chromosomal abnormalities as men get older. Changes in sperm quality and quantity may happen due to medications or changes in health.

Can Losing Weight Help You Get Pregnant?

Weight gain can contribute to infertility in both women and men. In women, excess weight can cause problems with ovulation. Increased weight can cause insulin resistance, which in turn may lead to elevated production of testosterone by the ovaries, which can prevent ovulation. In men, excess weight leads to the opposite problem, production of too much estrogen, which can negatively affect sperm production. Losing the extra pounds—both of you!—can help you improve your fertility.

Smoking Affects Fertility

Cigarette smoking significantly impacts fertility in both women and men. Yes, it’s true! And if you have other factors in play such as age, it only makes matters worse. Smoking can also increase your chances of having a miscarriage.

What Can You Do?

Consulting a reproductive endocrinologist can help you find out why you’re having trouble getting pregnant again and what your options are to have your next baby. A fertility specialist will test both you and your male partner to determine what treatment may be needed, and will advise you on the best treatment program. Many of these causes of secondary infertility can be addressed with medication, advanced reproductive technology, and lifestyle changes.

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