Reproductive problems can develop after an initial pregnancy. In fact, previous pregnancies sometimes cause reproductive issues that actually lead to secondary infertility.
For instance, many women experience pelvic infections after a delivery or a cesarean section, which can lead to scarring and tubal blockage. Additional reproductive problems can include:
- irregular ovulation
- pituitary disorders
- erectile dysfunction
- sperm duct blockage
A change in lifestyle factors can also impact upon your ability to get pregnant for a second or third time. Women who put on excessive weight during pregnancy often develop ovulatory disorders. This is because excess weight can actually increase the amount of estrogen in the body, influencing your ability to become pregnant.
Men who exercise excessively may also increase their body temperature, affecting the development of their sperm. Cigarette smoking, alcohol, and recreation drug use can also impact upon female and male fertility.
Dealing with Secondary Infertility
When it comes to secondary infertility, many couples are simply at a loss for what to do. You may wonder when you should seek help from a specialist or if you should pursue certain fertility treatments. Here are some options to consider.
When to Seek Help
Many couples facing secondary infertility wonder when they should seek help from a specialist. You may be inclined to wait it out on your own, especially if you got pregnant easily the first time around. But secondary infertility will only get worse with time.
Generally, it is recommended that couples see an infertility specialist for a checkup if they haven’t gotten pregnant after one year of unprotected, timed intercourse. If you are a woman over the age of 35, you may want to seek help after six months of timed intercourse. Though you may feel most comfortable talking with your obstetrician/gynecologist, a reproductive endocrinologist will probably be able to offer you a more in-depth examination.
Treatments for Secondary Infertility
The treatments for secondary infertility are the same as for primary infertility. Depending upon the cause of your secondary infertility, you may consider any one of the following fertility treatments:
- ovulation induction (using medications like Clomid)
- surgery to remove pelvic adhesions or scarring
- hormones to treat reproductive conditions, like PCOS or endometriosis
- treatments using donor sperm or eggs
Getting Support for Secondary Infertility
Secondary infertility can be a very difficult diagnosis to deal with. It is important to look for specialized support to help you deal with your feelings and emotions. Great sources of support can include:
- family and friends
- support groups for secondary infertility
- clinical social workers or psychologists