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What Is Secondary Infertility? Causes & Options

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You've already had one happy healthy child, and when you're ready, you may decide it's time to add another bundle of joy to your family. So if you've had one baby, it should be easy to have another, right? Not always. Many women face difficulties in getting pregnant the second time around. This is often called secondary infertility, but what is secondary infertility?

Romper reached out to the Fertility Centers of Illinois for some insight. The center points out that, according to statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 percent of couples who already have a child go on to experience secondary infertility. That's approximately four million families, or about half of all infertility cases.

Christopher Sipe, MD and President of Fertility Centers of Illinois, tells Romper that "secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or carry a pregnancy to term, after having one or more biological children without previous medical assistance."

"Couples should consult a physician after six months of trying to conceive if the woman is over 35 and after one year of trying for a baby if the woman is under 35 years of age," Sipe adds.

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Jane Nani, MD, Medical Director of Third Party Reproduction at the Fertility Centers of Illinois, tells Romper that there are various underlying causes of secondary infertility.

"When a couple is diagnosed with secondary infertility, it makes sense to evaluate common causes of infertility, including ovulation disorders, tubal infertility, and male factor in particular," Nani says. "Secondarily, depending on maternal age, egg factor and ovarian reserve should also be re-evaluated."

Nani says that if all the diagnostic testing comes out normal and a couple is diagnosed with "unexplained" secondary infertility, then empiric treatment can be offered, which can range from ovulation induction with insemination to in-vitro fertilization.

Unfortunately, secondary infertility issues can be difficult to deal with. Sometimes patience, support, treatment, and spending more quality time with the children you do have may help in coping and overcoming those challenges.