Cork Natural Fertility Clinic

Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility is defined as the ability to conceive one or more children, followed by the inability to conceive subsequent children. This particularly frustrating diagnosis is compounded by the emotional frustration of not knowing why a sibling isn't forthcoming and why your family isn't expanding according to your dreams..

Unlike those experiencing primary infertility (when a childless couple is unable to conceive), couples that are affected by secondary infertility are much less likely to get infertility treatment. This is usually due to the misconception that once you're fertile, you'll always be fertile. It is not uncommon for a couple to be told to just keep trying and that eventually it will happen. While this may be true in some cases, in many others, advice like this only adds to the frustration and heartache experienced by a couple having fertility problems.

Secondary infertility may happen at any time and the causes, where they have been pinpointed, are almost identical to those of primary infertility. The problem can lie with the woman's reproductive system; the man's reproductive system; or with both partners, as follows (RCOG, 2004):

  • In 27% of cases an ovulatory problem in the woman is involved.

  • In 14% of cases tubal damage in the woman is involved.

  • In 19% of cases low sperm count or poor quality sperm is involved.

  • In 39% of cases disorders in both the man and woman contribute.

This still leaves one third of cases in which the cause of infertility is not identified. This can be frustrating if you are desperate to find out why you cannot conceive. However, in cases of unexplained infertility there is still hope -- one to two thirds of couples with unexplained infertility will conceive within three years if they keep on trying.

Reasons for secondary infertility tend to be the same as reasons for primary infertility. Since you were last pregnant, you or your partner may have had an infection, gained some weight, or started eating fewer healthy foods. These seemingly small variances in your life can have large repercussions on your reproductive health. Additionally, if it has been a few years since you last had a child, your egg quality may have begun decreasing or your partner's sperm may not be what it once was. Abnormalities with sperm and ejaculate are frequently cited as causes of secondary infertility.