New England Fertility Blog

How to Tell If You Have Secondary Infertility

What you need to know about secondary infertility

Many women believe that they will be able to conceive easily, because they’ve delivered one or more babies in the past without the assistance of fertility treatments. However, that isn’t the case for women who struggle with secondary infertility.

Here are some facts about secondary fertility, and how to know when it’s time to see an expert.

What is Secondary Fertility?

Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. The birth of the first child does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications.

Nearly 60% of women who have trouble conceiving struggle with secondary infertility, and those in their late 30's to 40's are the most affected.

Secondary infertility can be very frustrating and confusing for those who have conceived easily in the past. For this reason, doctors are often quick to dismiss the inability to conceive which only further prolongs the prognosis and treatment.

How do I know if I have Secondary Infertility?

Studies show that about 30% of infertility is attributed to males and about 30% to females.The most common reason for secondary infertility is due to age, however, there are other factors that may contribute to the disease of secondary infertility.

Here are some of the factors that may cause secondary infertility:
· Fallopian tube damage, ovulation disorders, endometriosis and uterine conditions in women
· Complications related to prior pregnancies
· Impaired sperm function, production or delivery in men
· Changes in your and your partner's risk factors, such as age, weight and use of certain medications

Doctors are often not concerned about secondary infertility unless the woman is under 35 and has been trying to conceive for longer than a year. To the contrary, if a woman is over 35 and has not been able to conceive in three to six months doctors recommend seeking help sooner rather than later.

How is it diagnosed?

The only way to determine why you’re having trouble conceiving after one or more successful births is by undergoing medical evaluations. A gynecologist or urologist can help to diagnose the issue and determine whether a fertility specialist or treatment is needed. There are a multitude of tests available for men and women to hone in on the determining cause of infertility.

Tests in women may include:
Blood tests to check hormone levels, including progesterone and follicle stimulating hormone
Taking body temperature first thing in the morning to check if the ovaries are releasing eggs
FSH and Clomiphene citrate challenge test
Hysterosalpingography (HSG)
Pelvic ultrasound
Laparoscopy
Luteinizing hormone urine test (ovulation prediction)
Thyroid function tests

Tests in men may include:
Sperm testing
Examination of the testes and penis
Ultrasound of the male genitals (sometimes done)
Blood tests to check hormone levels
Testicular biopsy (rarely done)

A doctor will run the test(s) that he/she feels are most appropriate to arrive at a diagnosis.

What can I do?

There are some steps that you can take on your own to improve your overall health picture and potentially increase your chance of conceiving. Some things that you can control that contribute to secondary infertility include a bad diet, lack of sleep or stress.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you make an appointment with a specialist:
Is your BMI at an unhealthy level?
Do you drink excessive levels of caffeine?
Do you or your spouse smoke or drink heavily?
Are you under a great deal of stress?
If you have concerns about the length of time that it’s taking you to conceive, then it may be time to speak to speak to one of our doctors and get to know your first step.

We welcome the opportunity to provide you a free phone consultation! www.nefertility.com/contact

Posted in secondary infertility on March 5th, 2019
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