I want to have another baby, but I'm having trouble getting pregnant. What is secondary infertility and why does it happen?
Answer From Charles Coddington, M.D.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant or to carry a baby to term after previously giving birth to a baby. Secondary infertility shares many of the same causes of primary infertility.
Secondary infertility might be caused by:
- Impaired sperm production, function or delivery in men
- Fallopian tube damage, ovulation disorders, endometriosis and uterine conditions in women
- Complications related to prior pregnancy or surgery
- Risk factor changes for you or your partner, such as age, weight and use of certain medications
If you're younger than 35 and have frequent, unprotected sex but don't become pregnant after a year, talk to your health care provider. If you're 35 or older — or you have other infertility risk factors such as infrequent periods or endometriosis — earlier evaluation is recommended.
Depending on the circumstances, both you and your partner might need medical evaluations. Your doctor 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.
Jan. 30, 2020
Charles Coddington, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Hoffman BL, et al. Evaluation of the infertile couple. In: Williams Gynecology. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.
- Hacker NF, et al. Infertility and assisted reproductive technologies. In: Hacker & Moore's Essentials of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 30, 2016.
- Kuohung W, et al. Overview of infertility. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 29, 2016.
- Secondary infertility. Resolve: The National Infertility Association. http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/medical-conditions/secondary-infertility.html. Accessed Nov. 30, 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Female infertility evaluation. Mayo Clinic; 2019.