Suffering from infertility at any point can be very stressful and emotionally challenging for couples who want to conceive and have babies – irrespective of whether the desire is to have the first child or the consequent ones.
Many couples may have gotten pregnant earlier via natural conception or assisted reproductive techniques but having trouble conceiving again. If you are one of them, this article is for you.
What Is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is when a couple is unable to get pregnant again after a previous conception. This previous conception can be a live birth, miscarriage, or an ectopic pregnancy.
Secondary infertility affects almost 10 percent of couples who are trying to have another baby.
What Causes Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility can be attributed to issues with the male partner, female partner, or both. There are 1/3rds chances each of the male and the female partner suffering from it, while the remaining 1/3rds may be because of issues in both or neither of them.
Several factors can be responsible for secondary infertility in couples:
Age As the age of the woman increases, her ovarian reserves and egg quality start reducing leading to insufficient quantity and quality of eggs available for fertilization. If there are no eggs for fertilization or if the eggs that are produced are of poor quality, pregnancy may not occur or last.
Issues In Fallopian Tubes Partial or completeblockage in the fallopian tubes due to infections, scarring, or fibroids may not let the egg and the sperm meet for fertilization to occur and thereby resulting in no pregnancy.
Sperm abnormalities: Shape, Motility, Count, Concentration A reduction in the sperm count and motility or structural defects in the sperm’s shape and size render the sperms incapable of fertilizing the eggs.
Endometriosis Endometriosis is a disorder in the uterus where abnormal tissue growths occur either inside the uterine cavity, outside the uterine wall, or inside the uterine wall. It has various levels of severity and infertility will depend on the severity of endometriosis.
Ovulation Disorders Due to several reasons, including reproductive hormone imbalances in the body, the ovaries may become incapable of producing and releasing good quality eggs or a sufficient number of eggs. The woman may not ovulate at all, and thus, fertilization cannot happen.
Lifestyle Changes Excessive weight gain, dietary changes, smoking and alcohol consumption, etc. can all lead to infertility.
Prostate Enlargement or Removal In men, the prostate gland is responsible for the healthy transport of the sperms towards the penis. This function could be severely impacted in case the prostate gland is enlarged or suffers from cancers, tumors, etc. In some cases, the prostate gland may even have to be removed.
Urinary Tract Infections This can interfere with erection and ejaculation in men.
Reduction In Testosterone Levels Due to age or injury, the male’s testosterone levels may start dropping. The testosterone hormone plays a crucial role in sperm production. Therefore, a reduction in their levels can lead to infertility in males.
Testicular Varicocele In Testicular Varicocele, the tissues in the scrotum suffer from inflammation and swelling, which can interfere with sperm production and lead to male infertility.
Treatment Of Secondary Infertility
The treatment options in most cases of secondary infertility as the same as those in primary infertility. These include:
Medication Your fertility specialist may prescribe medicines to improve hormone productions for the better function of your reproductive organs. To stimulate your ovaries for optimal production of eggs, your fertility doctor may recommend certain drugs and medicines. Whereas, for your partner, they may recommend medication to increase testosterone levels and thereby improve sperm quality and motility.
Surgery Surgery may be a good option to treat any uterine-related issues like endometriosis, fallopian tube blockage, etc. Surgery can also help treat Testicular Varicocele in men.
Supplements and Antioxidants Your fertility specialist may put you on antioxidants and supplements to improve your fertility. Especially in men who are experiencing difficulties in erection, ejaculation, sperm production, etc.
Intrauterine Insemination In intrauterine insemination or IUI, your fertility doctor will inject carefully picked-out good quality sperms from your partner’s semen into your uterine cavity. These sperms are left to swim up towards the eggs for fertilization. In cases where needed, you can opt for sperm donors for IUI as well.
In Vitro Fertilization In vitro fertilization or IVF is a process where your IVF specialist collects the semen sample of your partner and retrieves eggs from your uterus or your ovaries directly, and fuses them in the laboratory to create embryos. The embryos are cultured in the laboratory for a few days until they grow enough to be implanted inside your womb. You can also opt for donor sperms, eggs, or embryos if your uterus is healthy enough to carry the baby or opt for surrogacy otherwise.
Though secondary infertility is becoming increasingly common in couples today, it is treatable in most cases. And if not, modern science and medicine have different solutions like donor sperms, donor eggs, donor embryos, and surrogacy, for couples who still want to have a baby.
One of the most challenging parts of secondary infertility is the lack of support groups to help you overcome the trauma and emotions related to it. When most couples cannot have their first child, they will find it difficult to relate with your desire of having a second or third.
Here’s when your IVF specialist steps in as your doctor as well as your counselor. Archish IVF’s expertise lies in not only helping with fertility and related treatment and care but also in emotionally nurturing you and your partner through difficulties involved in the process.