What is secondary infertility, and could it be affecting you?

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When you hear the word “infertility”, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably think of primary infertility, where couples aren’t able to get pregnant at all. While primary infertility is a huge problem, there’s also another form of infertility (termed secondary infertility) that’s plaguing couples who have previously managed to conceive.

In a nutshell, secondary infertility refers to a woman’s inability to become pregnant or carry a baby to term after previously giving birth. In this article, we discuss the factors causing this secondary infertility, and tell you what are the next steps to take if you suspect that you’re experiencing this condition.

What are the factors contributing to secondary infertility?

#1: Age

For most women who are experiencing secondary infertility, the problem boils down to their age. While women reach their peak (in terms of fertility!) when they’re 25, it pretty much goes downhill from there. Your fertility drops by 50% between the ages of 30 and 40, and it’s harder for you to get pregnant the longer you wait.

#2: Weight

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Many women put on weight after having their first child, and their husbands tend to do the same as they enter middle age. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for a couple’s fertility. With the woman, being overweight may cause hormonal imbalances and irregular ovulation; for the man, it leads to hormone problems and poor quality sperm.

#3: Frequency of sexual intercourse

It’s inevitable for a couple’s lifestyle to change after having their first child; most couples devote their time to caring for their child, and as a result, have less sexual intercourse.

It could be possible that a couple was dealing with factors such as low sperm count from the get-go, but managed to overcome this with frequent sexual intercourse. After they start having sex less frequently, though, it’ll naturally be more difficult for them to get pregnant.

#4: Use of medications

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Certain medications can impact fertility; these include:

  • Steroids
  • Hormone-based skin and hair products
  • Medication used to treat high blood pressure
  • Medication that deal with the central nervous system
  • Medication for thyroid problem

If you or your partner have started taking any of these medications since your last pregnancy, this might be contributing to your secondary infertility!

#5: Medical conditions and disorders

Say you underwent several fertility tests and check-ups during your first pregnancy, and were issued a clean bill of health. This doesn’t mean that you haven’t developed any conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids since then. If you want to play it safe, you can definitely sit for a fertility test again!

#6: Other complications

Women who experienced complications related to their prior pregnancy (or any sort of prior surgery) may experience secondary infertility. For example, women who deliver via C-section sometimes develop adhesions and scar tissue in their uterus, and this can impede embryo implantation further down the road.

What should you do if you suspect that you have secondary infertility?

If you’ve been trying for a second baby for six months to one year, and you haven’t had any success, definitely seek medical help. When you see your doctor, disclose all the medications you’re taking, and share if you’ve undergone any surgery (fertility-related or not) as well. Your doctor will order blood tests, ultrasounds, X-rays, and a semen analysis to do the necessary checks, and work from there.

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