Every women that I talk to who is dealing with infertility is surprised to discover becoming pregnant may not be as easy as they expected. Some of my most surprised patients are those who already have a baby – and didn’t need fertility treatments the first time around. They’re dealing with secondary infertility. And it affects approximately 3 million women in the U.S.
To help you understand secondary infertility, I’ve listed some of the most common questions I get from my fertility patients.
What is secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility refers to the inability to get pregnant naturally even though you previously had a child without the aid of fertility treatments.
What are the signs of secondary infertility?
The main sign is that you aren’t able to get pregnant after frequently trying. That means 12 months of unprotected sex if you’re younger than 35, or 6 months if you’re over 35.
What causes secondary infertility?
Approximately 30 percent of the time it’s female infertility; 30 percent it’s male factor infertility and the rest is unexplained. Here’s more information about each of those:
- Female infertility can be caused by a number of different factors ranging from a blocked fallopian tube, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis or age. Age plays a big role in fertility because it becomes much more difficult to conceive naturally as women get older. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a healthy, fertile 30-year-old woman has a 20 percent chance of becoming pregnant each month she tries to conceive; a 40-year-old woman has less than 5 percent chance of conception with each cycle.
- Male factor infertility could be related to low sperm count or low motility, which means they move slowly – making the trip up the fallopian tube seem like an ultra-marathon.
- Unexplained infertility is when test results do not indicate a problem that is specifically causing infertility.
What should I do if I have signs of secondary infertility?
Schedule an appointment with a physician who specializes in infertility. I work with women struggling with infertility every day and can offer a wide spectrum of care from identifying what the issue may be to recommending surgery to address that issue (if necessary). I work closely with each patient, identifying an appropriate course of treatment and a plan that offers the greatest chance for success.