Secondary infertility

Secondary infertility refers to the inability to get pregnant after previously giving birth to one or more children. This condition shares many similarities with primary infertility, including possible causes: impaired sperm production, ovulation disorders, endometriosis, and uterine conditions.

What is secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after previously giving birth to a baby or babies. Much like primary infertility, secondary infertility can be caused by ovulation disorders, endometriosis, uterine conditions, as well as common sperm disorders including azoospermia, and asthenospermia.

Secondary infertility is typically diagnosed after six months to a year of failing to conceive through unprotected sex. Many fertility specialists recommend that couples over the age of 35 visit a doctor after six months of failing to achieve pregnancy. 

Secondary infertility in males and females

Secondary infertility can be traced back to either male or female partners, and is caused by a number of different factors. In males, impaired sperm production, reduced motility, or conditions such as retrograde ejaculation can all lead to secondary infertility. A semen analysis (SA) can be done to examine sperm morphology, motility, and concentration

In females, secondary infertility can be caused by structural problems in the uterus, fallopian tubes, or cervix. In addition, endometriosis and chromosomal or genetic disorders can also lead to secondary infertility.

In all sexes, age can be a contributing factor in secondary infertility. Age affects both sperm and egg quality, and many people wait one or more years after their first child to try for another. It’s possible that age-related fertility decline could cause issues conceiving a second or third child.

Symptoms of secondary infertility

The main symptom of secondary infertility is the inability to get pregnant after having unprotected sex for 6–12 months, after having already given birth at least once before. 

Treatment of secondary infertility

Couples diagnosed with secondary infertility can turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures to conceive. Procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be very effective in treating common infertility disorders and helping remedy secondary infertility. The first step is diagnosing the root cause of infertility.

Back to Glossary