In the US, secondary infertility accounts for approximately 60% of the existing cases of infertility. While in 1995 the number of people suffering from secondary infertility was estimated at 1.8 million, the 2006 statistics claim that there are 3.3 million people suffering from secondary infertility. It is estimated that approximately 20% of women experience secondary infertility at some point in their lifetime.
What is secondary infertility?
While primary infertility means that a woman is unable to become pregnant at all, secondary infertility occurs in women who have already had a child but is unable to do so a second time. Frequent miscarriages also could be due to secondary infertility. Unfortunately couples suffering from secondary infertility do not get the much needed help and support from doctors, friends and family as they are not perceived as truly infertile since they already have had children.
Age is one of the primary causes for secondary infertility. Statistics reveal that by the age of 45 only 6% of women with carefully timed, unprotected intercourse, can conceive each cycle. While fertility in women peaks from the mid-20s, it is markedly decreased by mid 30s and much lower by age 35. to 40. To quote from Dr.Stephen Corson, Director of Women's Institute for Fertility, Endocrinology and Menopause in Philadelphia, USA, there are two reasons for the rise of secondary infertility.
"People are waiting longer to have babies and more couples in their second marriage are trying to have children."
In fact 52% of men with secondary infertility were married before, according to a survey of 578 infertility patients conducted for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
About one third of infertility cases can be due to blockage of the fallopian tubes in women. These are ‘abdominal adhesions' that can interfere with conception. Such irregularities can be caused by ovulation, lack of ovulation or premature ovarian failure that can cause secondary infertility. Approximately 25% of infertility cases occur due to this reason. Other medical causes for secondary infertility are:
Secondary Infertility after miscarriage: This form of female factor infertility can be caused by hormonal, environmental, immunological and physiological problems. Some common causes of secondary infertility are:
Diagnosis of secondary infertility
A complete history and physical examination of both partners is essential to determine the causes of secondary infertility. Tests include:
Treatment for secondary infertility
Treatment depends upon the cause for secondary infertility. These include:
Above all it is important for couples to recognize the emotional impact that infertility has on them. They should seek medical advice together from their health care provider. However, it is essential to understand that secondary infertility whether in male or female is not the same thing as sterility. Conception and successful pregnancy are possible in many cases.