Fertility Blog

An Overview of Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility is becoming increasingly relevant in the fertility field; in fact, half of all infertility cases today are the result of secondary infertility according to RESOLVE. Traditional infertility is when a couple tries to conceive for 6 months to a year (depending on age) without success and seeks out the assistance of a fertility specialist. Secondary infertility differs from traditional infertility in that it is specifically the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after the birth of previous biological children that also did not involve any infertility treatment. Basically, the condition is defined as: when a woman has already given birth to one or more of her own children that were conceived naturally, yet while trying for another child, she is unable to conceive.

Secondary infertility can “throw off” many couples because it would appear that infertility issues have appeared at random. It is important for these individuals to keep in mind that it may take some time and testing in order to determine the source of secondary infertility. Also, there are many cases in which the source of infertility is never fully clear. Some possible causes of secondary infertility include: complications from a prior pregnancy/delivery, damage to the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, uterine conditions, and problems with ovulation, age, weight, medication use, and/or issues with sperm production, quality, and delivery in men. Your doctor will be able to further elaborate on these causes once a diagnosis is made.

It is also important to remember that fertility treatment options are available. Like traditional infertility, secondary infertility treatment features a range of options for patients. Even though these options are readily available, secondary infertility can come with an entirely different assortment of emotional fallout than traditional infertility. With secondary infertility, patients are already parents to one or more children. Sometimes, feelings of guilt can arise because couples may think that they “waited too long” to try for a second child or that they should be able to provide a sibling for their child, but can’t. A feeling of “Selfishness” is another emotion that can weigh heavily on the minds of those struggling because they’ll feel as if they should be satisfied and lucky with one child when others struggle to conceive their first.

These feelings are natural, but they shouldn’t hamper any decisions or efforts for parents who sincerely wish to have another baby. There may be moments in which couples will be faced with insensitivity from well-meaning family and friends, but it’s important for couples to keep their own opinions and needs in mind when seeking treatment and support. The specialists as Washington Fertility Center are well-equipped to treat patients who are experiencing secondary infertility. If you or your partner has been diagnosed with infertility and you wish to seek treatment, please contact the Washington Fertility Center to plan an appointment to discuss your options.