I want to have another baby, but I'm having trouble getting pregnant. What is secondary infertility and why does it happen?

Answer From Chandra C. Shenoy, M.D.

Secondary infertility happens when you can't get pregnant or carry a baby to term after you've been pregnant before and had a baby without any trouble. Secondary infertility shares many of the same causes of primary infertility.

Secondary infertility might be caused by:

  • Problems with the sperm, such as not enough sperm or sperm not moving in the right way
  • Fallopian tube damage that prevents an egg from traveling to the uterus or the sperm from meeting an egg
  • Problems with the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation)
  • Scarring from endometriosis, where tissue similar to the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus on other pelvic organs
  • Conditions of the uterus, such as uterine fibroids or adenomyosis
  • Complications related to a past 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 you've been trying for a year to get pregnant, talk with your health care provider. Depending on the circumstances, your provider may want to look at both you and your partner. If you're 35 or older, talk with your provider after six months.

Seeing your health care provider earlier might be needed if you have risk factors for infertility. These include having few or no periods or endometriosis. Your provider can help you decide whether you might benefit from specialty care or treatment at a fertility clinic.

Secondary infertility can be surprising and stressful. If you're having trouble coping, seek support from your partner, family or a friend.


Chandra C. Shenoy, M.D.

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Dec. 07, 2022 See more Expert Answers