Secondary infertility can be a heartbreaking experience for couples who are looking to build their families. When couples struggle to conceive after having one or more successful pregnancies, it can feel like an uphill battle with no end in sight. But what is secondary infertility, and where does it come from? What causes secondary infertility, and how can we treat them? This blog post will examine the causes of secondary infertility and explore ways to manage and treat this condition.
What is secondary infertility in females?
Secondary infertility in females happens when a female who has already given birth to one or more children experiences difficulty conceiving again. It’s estimated that secondary infertility affects one in eight couples. The secondary infertility causes are similar to the causes of primary infertility (the inability to conceive a child in the first place). They include:
- Ovulation disorders
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Uterine factor fertility problems
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage
- Lifestyle choices
While secondary infertility’s causes are similar to primary infertility, there are some key differences.
Secondary infertility symptoms
Secondary infertility symptoms can be similar to primary infertility, as they both refer to difficulty conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term. Some common symptoms of secondary infertility may include the following:
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- Difficulty getting pregnant despite regular, unprotected intercourse.
- Pelvic pain or discomfort
- Changes in sex drive
- Hormonal imbalances, such as acne or excessive hair growth
- Fatigue or mood swings
- Infertility can also be diagnosed after a year of unprotected intercourse while a couple is trying to conceive with no success.
It’s important to note that some women may not experience any noticeable symptoms of secondary infertility. In some cases, the cause of secondary infertility may be unexplained. An accurate evaluation by a specialist is needed to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
What are the causes of secondary infertility in females?
There are several potential causes of secondary infertility, including:
- Age: As a woman ages, her fertility decreases, making it more difficult to conceive.
- Ovulation disorders: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders can interfere with ovulation and make it difficult to conceive.
- Fallopian tube damage: Scarring or blockage of the fallopian tubes can stop the fertilized egg from reaching the uterus. This can be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or endometriosis.
- Uterine or cervical issues: Abnormalities of the uterus or cervix, such as fibroids or cervical stenosis, can make it tough for a fertilized egg to implant and develop.
- Sperm disorders: Male fertility can also play a role in secondary infertility. Conditions such as low sperm count or poor sperm motility can make it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg.
- Lifestyle factors: Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity, can also contribute to secondary infertility.
- Previous surgeries: Surgery on reproductive organs, such as tubal ligation or removal of the ovaries, can also cause secondary infertility.
It’s important to note that the cause of secondary infertility may be unexplained in some cases. Therefore, a thorough evaluation by a specialist is needed to identify the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Options for treating secondary infertility
If you previously had no trouble getting pregnant, all of this could feel incredibly frightening, strange, and difficult. However, determining the reason for infertility is the first step in treating it. Consequently, your doctor might suggest some testing. These exams could include the following:
- Hormone levels can be examined using blood tests.
- Ovulation monitoring
- X-rays are taken during a pelvic exam to see your fallopian tubes
- Additional examinations to see your uterus and cervix include a transvaginal ultrasound.
Your doctor might advise looking into tests for male infertility if the results of your tests come back clear of any warning signs. (Sorry, women; it’s just reality that we’re scrutinized first.)
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