Secondary infertility is infertility experienced by a woman of reproductive age who already has at least one biological child.

Secondary infertility is increasing in frequency.  Cultural shifts have caused many couples to wait until much later to begin their families.  As soon as a woman reaches age 35, she is much less likely to be able to conceive.  Conditions such as endometriosis or pelvic or uterine infection can contribute to secondary infertility, and a woman may be more likely to experience these as she ages.  Men, also, may have a decrease in both the quality and quantity of sperm as they age.

In women, tubal blockage and abdominal adhesions are responsible about one third of the time for the diagnosis of infertility.  Ovulatory issues (anovulation, premature ovarian failure, ovulation irregularities) are responsible about 25% of the time.  In men, acquired defects in spermatogenesis, blockage in the semen delivery system and impotence are the primary contributing factors to infertility. Some of the causes of these problems are relatively reversible and easy to correct others less so.

Proper weight and good nutrition are also important. Obesity may interfere with ovulation.  Excessively low body fat percentages may also interfere with ovulation.  Some studies show that tobacco use may lead to decreased fertility via several different mechanisms.  The use of alcohol and recreational drugs may also decrease the quality of eggs and sperm.

The treatment for secondary infertility is the same as if the couple has not previously conceived.  Advances in fertility treatments greatly increase the chance that a couple experiencing secondary infertility will, indeed, be able to have another child.


What is secondary infertility?