Secondary infertility occurs when a woman who has had at least one successful pregnancy finds that she is unable to conceive another baby. The first child is generally conceived without difficulty and the pregnancy is normal and healthy. It is only when the couple decides to add to their family that the problem is discovered.
The rule of thumb for secondary infertility is the same as when the couple is trying for the first baby. If you have had unprotected sex for a year, it’s time to see a doctor for an evaluation. If the mother is over the age of 35, the magic number becomes six months without conceiving.
There are several factors that can influence secondary infertility. One is age. Although age has been primarily seen as a woman’s issue, the age of both partners can play a role in secondary infertility. Research suggests that the number and quality of sperm tend to decline as men age.
As women, we are born with all the eggs we will ever have. Each month, an egg is released during ovulation. The quality of the eggs diminishes as we age. The closer to menopause a woman gets, the fewer eggs she has available for ovulation. The age of the eggs results in poorer quality. This can prevent conception.
Tubal blockage or scar tissue can play a role in secondary infertility. Sexually transmitted diseases, endometriosis and previous abdominal surgeries can be the cause of scar tissue or a blockage in the fallopian tubes. This can prevent the sperm and the egg from meeting.
As with any infertility issue, the sooner you see the doctor the better. Your doctor or reproductive endocrinologist will run tests to determine the reason you have not been able to get pregnant again. Since we have a finite number of eggs, the sooner the doctor begins investigating the cause, the sooner a solution will be found and you will have your new addition.