A couple experiences secondary infertility when they have had one successful pregnancy but struggle to get pregnant and carry a baby to term again.
This guide will examine:
- What secondary infertility is
- How it differs from primary infertility
- Causes of secondary infertility
- Secondary infertility treatment
- Other family-building options
Before we get into what secondary infertility is, we want to quickly acknowledge that you can contact a surrogacy professional today to learn about your family-building options. But, continue reading to learn more about secondary infertility and your fertility options right now.
What is Secondary Infertility?
The Mayo Clinic defines secondary infertility as when a woman in a couple cannot get pregnant or carry a baby to term after already having a child without fertility assistance.
Although secondary infertility is similar to primary infertility, these two types of infertility differ.
How is Secondary Infertility Different than Primary Infertility?
People who experience secondary infertility have already had at least one child. Those who experience primary infertility cannot conceive after having regular, unprotected sex for a year. If you’re over 35, secondary infertility is diagnosed after six months. Secondary infertility is just as common as primary infertility.
Causes of Secondary Infertility
Quite a few things can cause secondary infertility in men and women.
Generally, the following things cause secondary infertility in women:
- Challenges with the quality or quantity of eggs
- Challenges with the fallopian tubes
- Challenges with the uterus
- Various conditions, like endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Lifestyle changes or events, like breastfeeding, weight change, new medications, or diet changes
- Autoimmune disorders
- Unexplained reasons
And secondary infertility in men is often caused by:
- Reduced levels of testosterone
- Testicular varicocele
- Semen quality challenges
- Prostate enlargement or removal
- Late-onset hypogonadism, which is a condition where there is a reduction in hormone secretion
- Certain lifestyle changes, like a new medication, some commercial lubricants, chemical exposure, and weight gain
- Autoimmune disorders
- Unexplained reasons
Secondary Infertility Treatment
Doctors are often able to treat secondary infertility in several ways. The following are some of the most common treatments for secondary infertility in men and women.
Medications for Secondary Infertility
Doctors often prescribe clomiphene and letrozole to induce ovulation in women. A doctor may suggest drug treatment to improve semen quality or suggest antioxidants and anti-aging supplements to increase male fertility.
Surgery for Secondary Infertility
A doctor may suggest surgery to treat secondary infertility for women. Surgery can treat the following issues:
- Uterine-related problems
- Repairs to structures, such as removal of scar tissue, fibroids, or polyps
A doctor also can treat testicular varicocele in men.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI happens in a doctor’s office or fertility clinic. During IUI, sperm is placed directly into a woman’s uterus. You can use your partner’s sperm or donor sperm.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is a multi-step process that involves the man and woman in a couple.
- Step 1: The woman takes injectable medications that stimulate the ovaries
- Step 2: After a doctor determines that the eggs are ready for retrieval; the woman will go to the clinic for egg retrieval
- Step 3: The man will provide a sperm sample
- Step 4: The doctor will combine the sperm and egg to create embryos in the lab
- Step 5: The doctor places the embryo into the uterus
- Step 6: Your doctor will test for pregnancy
You can go through multiple rounds of IVF. People also use sperm and egg donors during IVF.
Choosing Surrogacy to Grow Your Family
It isn’t easy to determine that it’s time to move from secondary infertility to another family-building option like surrogacy. You’ll likely feel a range of emotions, like grief and anger, which are normal.
If you’re not ready to start your surrogacy journey after experiencing secondary infertility, that’s OK. You can talk to a surrogacy professional to get references for infertility counselors and support group help.
If you are ready to consider other family building options, surrogacy can be a beautiful way to start or grow your family.
Surrogacy involves you (intended parents), a surrogate, and a surrogacy agency. Although people can pursue surrogacy independently, working with a surrogacy agency is very beneficial.
The following are some of the advantages you can experience when you work with a surrogacy agency:
- A surrogacy professional who will support you throughout the surrogacy journey
- References to other essential surrogacy professionals
- Surrogate matching
- Financial protection
- And more
Next Steps Toward Becoming a Parent
If you’re experiencing secondary infertility, reach out to your doctor to discuss possible treatment. Many people have been in your position and have continued to build their families through fertility treatment or surrogacy.
Ready to start your surrogacy journey? Contact us today.