Nothing beats having a loving family. Many couples dream of hearing the feet of toddlers running around the house. Yet, growing a family feels like a pipe dream for people suffering from secondary infertility. This serious condition affects millions of couples trying to conceive again.
Does secondary infertility sound strange? The condition gets little exposure compared to primary infertility. But there’s almost an equal split between couples affected by primary and secondary infertility. Primary infertility refers to someone with no children who are unable to conceive. Secondary means someone with more than one child is unable to conceive a second time.
Many think parents should be grateful for having any children at all. For some who are trying to grow a family, the emotional pain can persist. Parents can suffer from the same pregnancy obstacles the second time around as first-time hopefuls.
Age continues to be the biggest factor in secondary infertility. As more choose to delay pregnancy, the problem only grows. For women, ovarian reserves drop from several million at birth to 500,000 or less after the age of 35. In contrast, men could have over 40 million sperm in semen later in life. But sperm quality gradually declines with age. Getting checked by a clinic or specialist can help a couple identify treatment options. Doctors will check egg and sperm count, quality, and reproductive health. The right treatment raises the chances of pregnancy success.
Age alone does not impact women. A host of physical issues cause secondary infertility. A big barrier to pregnancy is fallopian tube blockage. This stops eggs and sperm from moving freely to the womb. Other factors can include endometriosis, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Abdominal surgeries or scarring after a c-section impact future chances as well. But women have hope through fertility treatments.
Despite having one or more children, men can become infertile. Conditions like varicocele can suddenly develop, lowering sperm count. Infections, hormone imbalances, and even undetected cancer suddenly lower sperm quality and motility. Male infertility may require surgery or medication. In serious cases, using IVF or ICSI procedures improves the chances of pregnancy success.
Despite a clean bill of health, for some people, getting pregnant seems out of reach. When doctors check all possible reasons for infertility and there are no apparent barriers to pregnancy, this is known as unexplained infertility. Unexplained infertility affects one-third of all infertility cases. In many of these cases, doctors recommend trying assisted reproductive techniques like IUI and IVF.
Has life changed since having one or two children? Environmental and lifestyle changes can cause serious hormonal changes in both men and women. Stress, diet changes, and weight gain all add to a reproductive decline. Even a change of job or exposure to toxic chemicals changes fertility. Assessing any major life changes and making adjustments may affect fertility.
A couple’s fertility health today may not be the same tomorrow. Over time, growing a family increases in difficulty for some. Secondary infertility is rarely talked about as parents take longer before admitting there’s a problem. But the same pregnancy obstacles impact families as much as first-time hopefuls. Seek guidance from a doctor for all available options to treat secondary infertility.