What is secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a child to term after previously being pregnant naturally.

You or your partner may have secondary infertility if you have been unsuccessful for six to twelve months, despite having already given birth naturally.

What are the causes of secondary infertility?

Fertility issues in a male or female partner can cause secondary infertility.

  • About one-third of cases of infertility are due to male infertility.
  • Some amounts are caused by female infertility.
  • Rest, are caused by issues with both the man and the woman or are unknown.

Reasons for secondary infertility differ in both men and women.

Causes in women include:

  • Mature age: Egg quality and quantity declines in women aged 35 or above.
  • Endometriosis: This condition is the most common cause of female infertility and occurs when a tissue that usually grows in the uterus grows in places such as the ovaries.
  • Damaged or blocked fallopian tube: Infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can damage or block the tube that carries eggs to the uterus, resulting in infertility.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): This hormonal disorder causes excessive levels of male sex hormones (androgens) and interferes with regular ovulation and menstruation.
  • Excessive weight gain: Weight can lead to PCOS and other health conditions that can cause ovarian dysfunction in some women.

Causes in men include:

  • Mature age: Sperm production and semen quality usually decrease in men aged 40 or above.
  • Low testosterone levels: Testosterone, a male hormone, is essential for sperm production, but it can decrease due to aging or genital injuries.
  • Sperm abnormalities: Sperm may lose their usual form or ability to swim to the egg effectively enough for fertilization. It can occur due to infections, trauma to testicles, toxins, and other reasons.
  • Azoospermia: Azoospermia means there’s no viable sperm in a man’s ejaculate.
  • Enlarged prostate: Prostrate enlargement can reduce sperm count and restrict ejaculation.
  • Prostate removal: The prostate gland removal during cancer or other treatments can cause sperm to flow reverse.
  • Late-onset hypogonadism (LOH): This age-related syndrome causes a reduction in male hormone secretion, testosterone.
  • Varicocele: Varicocele may cause due to defective valves found in veins within the scrotum. It can alter sperm production and its quality.
  • Excessive weight gain: Men who are overweight are 39 percent more likely to have no sperm in their ejaculate and 11% more likely to have a low sperm count.

Aside from these factors, medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, as well as the medications used to treat them, can cause hormonal imbalances in men and women, leading to infertility.