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Secondary Infertility and its causes

secondary infertility

Secondary infertility refers to a condition which causes when you already have a child and are trying to conceive another, however, it has many symptoms and signs similar to primary infertility. Although, in secondary infertility, a woman is unable to get pregnant or carry a baby to full-term of nine months even after having a previous pregnancy effortlessly and successfully. Secondary infertility can be discovered either in one or both partners. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available including medications to boost ovulation, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or surgery.

While women contribute up to one-third of the patients, one-third originate in men.

However, in the remaining one-third, the cause is due to a combination of various factors or unknown. Age (above 30), complications from previous pregnancy or surgery, overweight, medications, sexually transmitted diseases, low-sperm production, alcohol addiction, and over smoking are reasons behind secondary infertility in both women and men.

Causes of secondary infertility in women include

  • Issues with quantity or quality of eggs and age: When a woman reaches her 40s or above, the number of eggs left in their ovaries tends to decrease, and have a higher chance of chromosomal issues. A woman for whom age isn’t a concern might have a low number of good quality eggs, prior surgery and many more issues related to previous pregnancy or medications.
  • Blockage in fallopian tubes: Fallopian tubes carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, and get blocked due to pelvic infections.
  • Uterus issues: There are many problems related to the uterus that can cause secondary infertility. It needs proper check-ups from time to time.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome: This is a hormonal disorder separated by longer or irregular periods.
  • Weight gain or lifestyle factors: Weight gain can lead to ovary dysfunction in some cases. Some diets, medications or treatments may also affect women’s fertility

Causes of secondary infertility in men include:

  • Reduced testosterone level: Testosterone is a significant part of sperm production. Declined testosterone can lead to primary or secondary infertility. 
  • Testicular varicocele: In this, enlargement of veins in the sack of skin encasing the testicles can cause low sperm production and infertility in men. About 30% of men with infertility have testicular varicocele.
  • Poor-quality sperm: After age 40, or due to certain lifestyle habits the quality of semen tends to decrease. 
  • Late-onset hypogonadism: This is a condition where there is a reduction in hormone production.
  • Effects on sperm count and quality due to certain drugs: These drugs comprise some antibiotics and medications that treat problems like high blood pressure and many more.

Fortunately, many fertility treatments like surgeries, medication, or IVF have been helping people to have their second child and complete their family.