Secondary Infertility Causes

Submitted by Kate Seldman Tue 05/17/2011


Secondary fertility occurs when a couple has conceived a child before, and now is having trouble conceiving a second time. The term “secondary infertility” is applicable even if a couple has conceived a first time, but the woman miscarried. If there’s been a change of partners after the first child, then the term doesn’t apply – if a couple has not had a child together before and is experiencing fertility issues, then it’s referred to as primary infertility. A couple is considered to be experiencing secondary infertility if they’ve had twelve months of unprotected intercourse without conceiving a second child. According to some research, almost 25% of couples that seek fertility treatment are already parents. Just because a couple had an easy time conceiving the first go-round, that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily get pregnant easily the second time. Age is one cause of secondary infertility. After the age of 36, it is much harder for a woman to conceive – in fact, up to 25% of women over the age of 36 may already be infertile. By the age of 40, 7 out of 10 married women who wanted to have a baby were infertile. The risk of miscarriages also increases as a woman gets older. A woman’s eggs may suffer chromosomal damage as she ages, which could account for her decreasing ability to get pregnant. The body’s hormone levels may change with age, too, and this could be another cause of secondary infertility. If estrogen, progesterone or testosterone are out of balance, it can affect a woman’s ability to conceive; likewise for a man. In rarer instances, hormonal imbalances can throw a woman into premature menopause. Untreated endometriosis can lead to secondary fertility problems. Uterine lining that attaches itself to other organs can create scarring, block the fallopian tubes, and cause ectopic pregnancies, which can damage the fallopian tubes enough so that an egg cannot pass down them to be fertilized. Even childbirth can be a cause of secondary infertility: if a woman contracts an infection after having a child, she may be unaware of it, and put her pain down to normal post-partum recovery. These infections can leave scarring in the uterus and fallopian tubes. If a woman has had an abortion involving dilation and curettage – also known as D & C – this procedure can also cause uterine scars that may impede implantation of an egg. Male fertility can be impacted by hypertension or diabetes, as well as by alcohol or marijuana consumptio

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