Secondary infertility is much like all the other types of infertility that happen and often bears the same signs and symptoms. However, it occurs only in couples who have successfully had a natural pregnancy term, without any fertility problems throughout.
However, if we talk about primary infertility, it is not getting pregnant after a year or six months of trying when you are 35 or above.
In secondary fertility cases, it is essential to have had conception before. The first term ended in proper childbirth, or a miscarriage doesn’t count. Most couples (who have had a successful period) have difficulty accepting that there are problems with their fertility. Therefore, they delay their trips to have a proper checkup.
In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and the possible treatment options available to cater for a secondary infertility case.
Causes of Secondary Fertility
Before discussing the causes of secondary fertility in-depth, one must remember that women are not always to blame when dealing with conception problems. Both men and women can contribute to infertility and its issues.
Some of the causes that can happen with both men and women are:
- Dealing with sexually transmitted diseases
- Inflammatory diseases, gynaecological issues, problems with the menstrual cycle of women
- Reduced number, issues with the shape and movement of sperm in men
The exact causes of secondary infertility are as stated down below.
Disorders with Ovulation
The majority of female infertility is mainly blamed on ovulation disorders. Problems with ovulation are caused due to various conditions. Some of them are:
- Decreased production of the egg due to factors such as age.
- Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Disorders that affect hormonal activity
- Environmental factors
The most typical causes of all that lead to infertility are PCOS. PCOS is a condition where the ovaries produce an alarming amount of androgens- which are male sex hormones present in women in a small quantity.
This can cause cysts to appear, which may further damage the function of ovaries, hence interfering with the ovulation process. Nevertheless, the good news is that PCOS is treatable, and with the medications prescribed, the results may give birth to successful pregnancies in the future.
Common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods
- Weight Gain
- Difficulty getting pregnant
Blockage of the Fallopian Tubes
Structural problems such as the blocking of the Fallopian tubes can affect your chances of getting pregnant.
In cases of the blockage of Fallopian tubes, the sperm and egg can’t meet to form an egg. Such blockage occurs due to pelvic region area infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Conditions such as endometriosis are where the fallopian tubes are affected.
Symptoms and signs that one may be suffering from blocked fallopian tubes are:
- General pelvic pain
- Painful sex
- Abnormal vaginal discharge accompanied by an odour
It is crucial to mention endometriosis because it affects many women, causing the rate of pregnancies to fall.
Problems with the Uterus
Many interlinked problems with the uterus can invite secondary infertility to knock on one’s door.
If one has had a C-section (caesarean delivery) done with a previous pregnancy, scarring is possible in the uterus, known as intrauterine adhesions. An intrauterine adhesion can cause inflammation-occurring in the uterus that eventually affects the process of plantation.
Symptoms of such scar tissues caused by a C-section can manifest the following signs to occur in the affected women:
- A feeling of tightness in the lower abdomen
Working the abdominal muscles can also result in severe difficulty. Moreover, this can further lead one to constantly be a victim of back pain and an overwhelming feeling of weakness. Other reasons could be some unexplainable reasons, age, weight, etc.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Going through such issues can be scary and not welcoming, especially since you conceived on the first try without much hassle. However, one must realise that a proper diagnosis is the first step to ensure a suitable treatment plan.
To find out the point of contention or the cause of infertility, your doctor might recommend the following tests:
- Pelvic Exam
- Blood tests to examine the hormonal levels
- Testes to view the cervix and uterus
- X-rays to view the Fallopian tubes
If your tests don’t raise any concern, the focus will shift to male infertility. Women are checked first due to the majority of cases being of female infertility. Nevertheless, if the cause is detected, the doctor will develop the best treatment depending on the factors.
The treatment plans vastly range from medications/drugs to surgery. However, below are the most typical methods used to deal with secondary fertility.
- Medications: Usually, the go-to options for treatment are medications. Medicines are primarily used to normalise the activity of hormones. Clomid is an oral medication responsible for stimulating hormones that produce eggs in women.
- Surgery: In a few cases, surgery is needed to counterattack infertility. Uterine surgery eliminates unwanted growth like scar tissue that impacts fertility. Though surgery may sound scary, it is seen as an encouraging move once you realise it may resolve your fertility issues.
- IVF: IVF is a procedure where the eggs are retrieved via surgery from the uterus, fertilised in a lab with sperm, and then transferred back into the uterus.
Aside from the IVF, in cases of men, IUI is preferred. IUI is a procedure in which the sperm is directly injected into the woman’s uterus. This option is pursued by men who have a low sperm count or have a poor quality of sperm.
Secondary infertility can be emotionally draining for you, your partner, and your loved ones. It is essential not to blame each other and work together towards this problem.
Talk to a healthcare professional or a doctor to gain better guidance towards the whole issue. Consulting your doctor or seeking medical aid would help you get on the right path and help you discover your possible options.
You shouldn’t forget to stay strong and rely on your shoulders whenever you feel like it. You could also search for success stories and keep in mind to not lose hope. Remember, it is okay to go through fertility issues, as it can happen to almost any couple out there. With the technology constantly improving, there will be many more options available in the future, such as IVF.
Hence, stay strong and try to reach out for professional help and not delay your checkups, as most couples fear the thought of visiting the doctors.