Secondary Infertility: Meaning, Causes, and its Treatment

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Secondary Infertility: Meaning, Causes, and its Treatment


The inability to conceive a child or to carry a pregnancy full term after conceiving successfully at least once before is known as secondary infertility.

Although previous births may have occurred without the help of fertility drugs or therapies such as in vitro fertilization, secondary infertility is usually diagnosed after six months to one year of unsuccessful attempts to conceive.

Like primary infertility, secondary infertility can be caused by a problem with the natural process needed to get pregnant.

Even after the baby is born, the fertility of you and your partner may change.

Secondary infertility is as common as primary infertility and can be treated with the help of fertility therapy.


Since primary infertility has the same causes, the cause of secondary infertility can be found in either partner or both partners. Some causes of infertility can be:

  • C-section wounds
  • Fibroids
  • Problems with the fallopian tubes or uterus
  • Infections
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Problems with the quantity or quality of eggs
  • Endometriosis
  • Poor-quality of semen
  • Adhesions or uterine scarring
  • Unexplained Reasons 
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Low or absent sperm count
  • Weight gain or other lifestyle changes
  • Decreased testosterone levels
  • Problems in the shape of the sperm along with its movement
  • Prostate enlargement or removal

Symptoms of Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility may be suspected in women who are 35 years of age or younger who have had unprotected sex for at least 12 months, and six months if the woman is over 35 years of age who have not become pregnant.

This specifically applies to those women who are over the age of 30 and suffered from pelvic inflammatory disease, painful periods, irregular menstrual cycles or miscarriage, and to men with low sperm counts.

See Also: Endometriosis and Problems with the Fallopian Tubes

What Should Be Done?

When you suspect secondary infertility, immediately consult with a gynecologist, preferably someone who deals with infertility issues.

An initial examination is important to ensure the best treatment option. Some factors that worsen and delay infertility over time help reduce the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Doctors review the medical history to know if anything has changed since the previous pregnancy.

The doctor detects whether the woman has experienced irregular periods and tries to find out if she is normally developing ovaries and producing eggs. For men, an illness or age may have affected sperm count or quality.

The doctor then discusses clear tests with the couple, such as an X-ray of the uterus (called HSG) to help reveal the lesions or abnormalities. Doctors may also order semen analysis.

Options for Treatment

Treatment options for both primary and secondary infertility are almost identical.

Medications: These stimulate ovulation in women with the anovulatory disorder.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): At the time of ovulation, sperm are surgically inserted inside a woman’s uterus to improve the chances of fertilization. A sperm donor can also be used in IUI.

In vitro fertilization (IVF): It deals with daily injections that stimulate the ovaries and then the sperm and egg are fertilized outside the body of a woman and as a result, the embryo is transferred back to the woman’s uterus in the hope of implantation. Egg or sperm donors can also be used in IVF.

Surgery: It can help to cure structural problems in women, such as the removal of scar tissue, polyps, and fibroids from the uterus.

Surgery in men: To repair testicular varicocele, a condition that is the most surgically curable cause of male infertility.

Studies have shown that IVF is often the only or most successful fertility treatment option for patients with secondary infertility.


When a couple with at least one child is trying to get pregnant again but does not get pregnant after trying for at least a year, it is called secondary infertility.

The need for treatment and the line is the same as for a person with primary infertility.

According to Dr. Shivani Bhutani of Eva Hospital, “ the use of medical treatments which are helpful to have the desired child in secondary infertility is as wise as it is for primary infertility.”

Dr. Shivani, a renowned and experienced infertility specialist, is advising couples experiencing secondary fertility problems for successful second pregnancies and having children.

Call for Appointment with Best Gynecologist in Ludhiana.

About The Author

Dr Shivani Bhutani
A doctor with a rich background and high success rate, Dr. Shivani Bhutani offers the boon of parenthood to couples dealing with infertility. She has opulent knowledge and expertise in offering successful treatment for infertility in females, gynecological disorders, and family planning consultation services. Highly dedicated, concerned, and attentive, Dr. Shivani understands the bliss of parenthood and offers appropriate medical help.