Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Secondary infertility: Why does it happen?

I'm having trouble conceiving another child. Why does secondary infertility happen?

Updated: 03-23-2011

Answer

Secondary infertility — the inability to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year by a couple who previously had a child — shares many of the same causes of primary infertility.

For example, male infertility can be caused by impaired sperm production, function or delivery. Female infertility can be related to fallopian tube damage, ovulation disorders, endometriosis and uterine conditions. Sometimes, however, secondary infertility stems from complications related to prior pregnancies. Changes in your and your partner's risk factors, such as age, weight and use of certain medications, can also contribute to secondary infertility.

If you're experiencing secondary infertility, talk to your health care provider. Depending on the circumstances, both you and your partner might need medical evaluations. A woman's gynecologist or a man's urologist can help determine whether there's an issue that requires a specialist or treatment at a fertility clinic.

Secondary infertility can be surprising and stressful. Don't try to cope alone. Seek support from your partner, family and friends as you talk to your health care provider about the next steps.

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