I'm having trouble conceiving another child. Why does secondary infertility happen?
Answers from Jani R. Jensen, M.D.
Secondary infertility is the inability to get pregnant despite frequent, unprotected sex — for at least a year in women under age 35 or six months in women age 35 and older — by a couple who have previously had a pregnancy. Secondary infertility shares many of the same causes of primary infertility.
Among the possible causes of secondary infertility are:
- Impaired sperm production, function or delivery in men
- Fallopian tube damage, ovulation disorders, endometriosis and uterine conditions in women
- Complications related to prior pregnancies
- Changes in your and your partner's risk factors, such as age, weight and use of certain medications
If you're experiencing secondary infertility, talk to your health care provider. Depending on the circumstances, both you and your partner might need medical evaluations. A woman's gynecologist or a man's urologist can help determine whether there's an issue that requires a specialist or treatment at a fertility clinic.
Secondary infertility can be surprising and stressful. Don't try to cope alone. Seek support from your partner, family and friends as you talk to your health care provider about the next steps.
With Mayo Clinic fertility specialist
Jani R. Jensen, M.D.
Feb. 28, 2014
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=768. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Kamel RM. Management of the infertile couple: An evidence-based protocol. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2010;8:21.
- Walsh TJ, et al. Differences in the clinical characteristics of primarily and secondarily infertile men with varicocele. Fertility and Sterility. 2009;91:826.
- Davis CH, et al. What is the best way to evaluate secondary infertility? The Journal of Family Practice. 2007;56:573.
- Kuohung W, et al. Overview of infertility. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions about infertility. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine. http://www.reproductivefacts.org/awards/index.aspx?id=3012. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.