5 Issues That Could Cause Secondary Infertility

By Dorothy Fournier posted 06-17-2021 10:34 PM

  

While many couples have no problem conceiving a second child, there are others who struggle with secondary infertility. Secondary infertility occurs when a woman is unable to fall pregnant or carry a baby to term after previously giving birth successfully. It shares many of the same causes as primary infertility, such as impaired sperm production. 

Secondary infertility is typically diagnosed after trying to conceive for six months to a year. A third of infertility cases are usually related to male infertility, a third to female infertility, and a third to problems in both males and females or those that remain unexplained. 

  1. Impaired sperm production in man

Testosterone levels in men can decline due to certain medical conditions, injury or aging. Excessive weight gain can also decrease testosterone levels. Testosterone plays a crucial role in sperm production. 

Semen is the fluid that carries sperm and after the age of 40, semen quality declines. Prostate enlargement can also lower the sperm count and hinder ejaculation. There are also certain drugs, such as high blood pressure medication and some antibiotics that can affect sperm quality and count. 

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  1. Fewer or lower quality of eggs in women

Women are born with a limited supply of eggs. As they age, the number of eggs left decreases. The eggs they have left also have more chances of chromosomal abnormalities. Egg quality is important because it determines the quality of the embryo. 

Other difficulties with the quantity or quality of eggs besides aging could include prior surgery, cancer treatment or autoimmune conditions. Lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption, drug use, infections and diet all increase oxidative stress, which can affect the quality of the egg. 

  1. Problems with ovulation

Being overweight or underweight can also cause ovulation problems. Women may gain weight after the first pregnancy and this could cause problems when trying to conceive again. Obese women experience hormonal shifts that could disrupt their menstrual cycles and increase their risk for infertility. 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that can cause ovulation issues. It is a common cause of secondary infertility and women who have irregular periods or don’t have them at all should talk to their gynecologist. 

  1. Blocked fallopian tubes

Every month when ovary releases an egg, it goes into the adjacent fallopian tube, where it is picked up and moved down the tube to where it meets the sperm. They are extremely important because fertilization happens in the fallopian tube. The tube could be blocked for various reasons, such as pelvic infections, scar tissue or infections. Complications from an ectopic pregnancy could cause damage to the tubes. A common cause is sexually transmitted infections, like Chlamydia. 

Most women with internal scarring or damage are advised to use in vitro fertilization because the technique implants the fertilized egg directly into the uterus and bypasses the blocked tubes. 

  1. Problems with the uterus 

Scarring from a previous Cesarean delivery could cause adhesions inside the uterus that affect future pregnancies. Benign growths, like polyps or fibroids, inside the uterus, could also prevent a woman from falling pregnant. Fibroids can change the position of the cervix and thereby reduce the number of sperm that enter the uterus. 

Previous infections can damage the uterus enough to cause infertility. Endometriosis can also affect the lining of the uterus and disrupt the implantation of the embryo.  

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