Secondary Infertility and Unexplained Infertility
Anxiety often occurs when couples have problems getting pregnant after having given birth to a healthy child. The term "secondary infertility" is used when a couple is unable to get pregnant, or unable to carry a pregnancy to term, after giving birth at least once before.
Causes of secondary infertility
Female factor infertility is to blame for about 40 percent of the cases of secondary infertility. Male factor infertility accounts for the other 40 percent of cases. The remaining 20 percent of cases are due to unexplained factors or caused when both partners possess fertility problems.
The causes of secondary infertility vary. Oftentimes, secondary infertility is the result of one or more of the following factors:
- Female pelvic and tubal problems
- Problems with ovulation
- Sperm abnormalities, like low sperm count
According to the CDC, African American women in the U.S. have the highest rates of secondary infertility. The reason for this may be higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases and resulting pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility. It is extremely important that you get tested for STDs before you try to get pregnant.
Age can sometimes be a factor with secondary infertility. Because of increasing maternal age, secondary infertility is more common in women as they approach age 40 and beyond.
When to Seek Help
On a positive note, according to CDC data, couples with secondary infertility are more likely to achieve pregnancy than couples with primary infertility. Primary infertility is the term for infertile couples who have never given birth before.
Fertility specialists recommend that couples under the age of 35 try to conceive for at least one year before seeking treatment for secondary infertility. For those older than 35, doctors recommend seeking fertility treatment when pregnancy does not occur after trying to conceive for six months. One exception to these guidelines is that couples of any age with known fertility problems should seek help right away.
Miscarriage and secondary infertility
About one percent of couples trying to conceive experience recurrent miscarriage, which is characterized by three or more pregnancy losses in a row. Often, miscarriage is caused by chromosomal defects of the embryo or fetus, and other conditions that can't be treated.
However, if you experience recurrent miscarriages after a previous childbirth, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your chances of subsequent miscarriage. Your doctor may recommend healthy lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking and drinking, starting an exercise regimen and healthy eating program, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight. Avoiding physical harm and exposure to toxins or environmental hazards may also reduce your risk of miscarriage.
How to cope
If you find yourself feeling isolated or distressed about your inability to conceive, your OB-GYN may be able to refer you for fertility treatment or counseling. Or, you may find comfort online with a secondary infertility support group.
If you are going through secondary infertility, it is important to acknowledge your loss and allow yourself to grieve. If your negative feelings persist, and start to impact your daily life, talk to a mental health counselor. Infertility counseling can help you manage your daily responsibilities and maintain healthy relationships while coping with infertility.Sources