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A woman empowered to give birth to her own child embarks the journey of life smoothly and happily is a well-known fact. The stigma and agony of being infertile may not be experienced by some women as they naturally conceived and gave birth to a healthy baby in the first go. It is also possible that some couples may not believe that they are having problems conceiving for the second time as they experienced their first pregnancy without any medical help.
What is secondary infertility?
Inability to conceive or to carry the baby to term for the second time is referred to as secondary infertility. The female must have had at least one conception, successful or unsuccessful in the past. The pain, anxiety and sheer despair is not less than primary infertility and approximately 11% couples suffer from secondary infertility.
The main causes of secondary infertility may be the same as primary infertility.
Age : Fertility declines with advancing age. It is very much likely that if you had conceived earlier in your early 30’s and now trying in late 30’s you face the problem of secondary infertility. Ovarian reserve declines rapidly in females with advancing age, sperm quality is also affected with age.
Primary infertility cause : It is possible that if a woman has conceived to full term through IVF in the previous attempt then she might face the same problem for the second time as the reason of primary infertility might have not been cured yet.
Fertility issues : Fertility issues such as PCOS, endometriosis, poor ovarian reserve, fallopian tube factors play a significant role in secondary infertility. Problems with the uterus, fibroids or endometrial polyps, previous miscarriages also diminish the chances of pregnancy. Sperm quality also declines by age, the use of narcotics, infection, some drugs and excessive smoking or abuse of alcohol may lead to secondary infertility.
How is secondary infertility diagnosed?
The diagnosis of secondary infertility is the same as of primary infertility. Blood tests for hormones, ultrasounds, CT scan, hysteroscopy and laparoscopy may be performed to rule out the cause. For males, semen analysis and blood tests may serve the purpose.
What is the treatment of secondary infertility?
Fertility drugs to boost up the hormones, IUI, IVF, ICSI or donor (egg or sperm) may be the treatment options. If age is too advanced or the case is of uterine dysfunction or hysterectomy, surrogacy may be the best option.
Secondary infertility sufferers often don’t seek advice early, till the time they have convinced themselves that they are not able to produce their offspring now on their own. At First Step IVF we encourage such couples to open up and advise them not to keep themselves in isolation for long. It is not incurable and it is too exhilarating to have the bundle of joy again.
It's always recommended to take a second opinion with the experts.