When a woman, who has previously given birth is unable to conceive again, infertility is termed Secondary infertility. The first pregnancy in such cases is not backed up by any fertility treatments. Normally, couples can conceive but lack the ability to carry throughout pregnancy. In general, these pregnancies are diagnosed only after a minimum of 6 months to one year. Depending on the underlying cause of infertility, several treatment options have emerged in the medical field to treat secondary infertility. Either partner can be responsible for secondary infertility and proper diagnosis is required to treat underlying infertility.
Causes of Secondary Infertility
The causes of secondary infertility result in both men and women.
Causes in women
Quality / Quantity deficiency of eggs:
The number of eggs present at the time of birth is limited in a woman and these eggs cannot be created post-birth. The eggs that are created post-birth start declining as the woman ages and the remaining eggs available in the ovaries are highly susceptible to chromosomal problems. Genetic conditions play an active role in affecting the quality of the eggs and cases like radiation, prior surgery, etc diminish the quality of the eggs.
Blockage of fallopian tubes :
The eggs are carried from the ovaries to the uterus via the fallopian tubes and these tubes have a high potential to get pelvic infections, making them prone to chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Uterus issues :
Any issues in the uterus including Scarring can lead to secondary infertility in women. Specific kinds of Endometriosis, where the tissues start to grow in the ovaries and bowel surfaces instead of the uterus, can lead to secondary infertility.
Breastfeeding for a longer duration leads to secondary infertility in some women as the body stops ovulating and releasing eggs. Weight gain and consumption of medications lead to ovary dysfunction and affect fertility. If a woman has a menstrual cycle that is more normal than average and the male hormones exceed the presence of female hormones, it potentially leads to secondary infertility as the ovaries fail to release eggs regularly.
Causes of secondary infertility in men
Male infertility has become as common as female infertility and almost one-third of secondary infertility cases originate via male infertility. Male infertility occurs as a result of medical conditions, overheated testicles, ejaculation disorders, hormonal imbalances, and so on.
Poor semen quality:
Semen carries the sperm and the quality of semen starts declining as one age and this leads to Secondary infertility.
Testicular varicocele :
When the veins surrounding the scrotum are enlarged the skin around the testicles starts to sack and this leads to low sperm production and causes infertility in men.
Reduction of testosterone levels :
Sperm production is dependent on testosterone levels and these start declining due to multiple factors including aging, genital infections, diabetes, stroke, and so on thereby causing infertility. Testosterone levels can be boosted by reducing stress levels and losing excess pounds.
Late-onset hypogonadism :
Late-onset hypogonadism reduces male hormone secretion and this leads to infertility.
Prostate removal due to cancer or other medical conditions can affect the flow of sperm leading to male infertility.
For every 20 pounds a man gains, the chances of infertility increase by 10% and hence having a weight check is essential.
Mumps normally occurs post-puberty and affects sperm production through inflammation of the testicles.
Treatments for secondary infertility
Treatments for women:
- Intake of medicines that helps in inducing ovulation with an ovulatory disorder. These medicines include Letrozole, Clomid, and so on. Clomid is a common oral medication that induces hormonal changes and boosts the production of eggs in women who face ovulation problems.
- Repairing all uterine-related issues via surgery including repairing scar tissue, fibroids in the uterus, and so on.
- Undergoing IVF where the ovaries are stimulated through daily injections and IVF is a common treatment procedure for infertility.
- Placing sperm in the woman’s uterus surgically to boost the chances of fertilization, is a procedure commonly known as Intrauterine insemination.
Treatments for men:
- Intake of antioxidants and other anti-aging supplements that boosts fertility in men. Semen quality can also be improved through drug treatment in men.
- Indulging in lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, drinking, and usage of any drugs will boost the chances of fertility in men.
- Undergoing surgery to repair the testicular varicocele.
- Vasectomy reversal: In some cases, where men have undergone vasectomy early on in their lives and additional blockages are found in their epididymis due to infection or injury, undergoing Vasoepididymostomy will help with treating infertility.
Secondary infertility is not impossible to treat. If the root cause of the infertility is identified and the appropriate treatments are undertaken at regular intervals and both men and women undergo the necessary lifestyle changes, the chances of overcoming secondary infertility are considerably high.