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What is primary and secondary infertility

What is primary and secondary infertility

What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the failure of a sexually active couple to conceive within a year if they are not using any contraception. World Health Organization (WHO) classifies it as a disease of the reproductive system.

 So like any other disease, you need to take treatment for it.

What is infertility?

Are there different types of infertility?

 Infertility may be further divided into two types- Primary Infertility & Secondary Infertility.

What is primary and secondary infertility?

 Primary infertility

When a woman is unable to ever bear a child, either due to the inability to become pregnant or the inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth she would be classified as having primary infertility. 

Thus women

  • Who never get pregnant or
  • whose pregnancy spontaneously miscarries, or
  • whose pregnancy results in a stillborn child,

without ever having had a live birth would present with primary infertility. 

Secondary infertility

When a woman is unable to either become pregnant or to carry a pregnancy to term after previously giving birth to a live baby, she would be classified as having secondary infertility. 

Thus women

  • Who never get pregnant or
  • whose pregnancy spontaneously miscarries, or
  • whose pregnancy results in a stillborn child,

after previously having had a live birth would present with secondary infertility. 

What are the causes of primary and secondary infertility?

What are the causes of primary and secondary infertility?

Primary and secondary infertility share almost the same causes. We have discussed these in detail in our blog post 

Basically both the partners need to be tested to check for any problems.

In men, we need to see the quality of semen- the sperm count, motility, normal and abnormal proportion, etc.

In females we need to check if fallopian tubes are open and working properly, the uterus is healthy, egg formation and release (ovulation) are happening regularly.

After successfully giving birth to a child previously-

 You may develop problems like- 

  • Any infection etc leading to fallopian tube blockage
  • Any problem related to previous childbirth or surgery
  • Diseases like endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroid, genital tuberculosis, etc
  • Any problems related to ovulation
  • Age-related decline in fertility due to deterioration in egg quality and number.
  • Weight gain, any medical diseases like diabetes, hypertension, etc.
  • The male partner may have problems with sperm production, release or function due to infection, surgery, medical disease, age, weight gain, medication, etc.
When should you see a doctor if you are facing difficulty in conceiving?

When should you see a doctor if you are facing difficulty in conceiving?

Both in cases of primary or secondary infertility, you need to see a doctor if you have been trying for a year with no success. You can visit a doctor earlier like after six months if your age is more than 35 years; or if you have some known problems like irregular cycles, blocked tubes, problems with sperm, etc.

How is facing secondary infertility different from primary infertility?

Those couples, who previously have had one or more children, may not realize that there is some problem when they fail to get pregnant. It may be surprising and stressful. Sometimes it’s difficult for them to accept that they now need treatment to bear another child while earlier they had conceived naturally. So they may delay visiting a doctor.

 Couples with secondary infertility may get less emotional or psychological support from their friends and relatives and they may feel guilty due to their desire to have more children to complete their family. They may hear things like you are lucky to have at least one child, cherish him/ her, why do you need another child, etc. Ultimately it’s your own decision whether you want to have more children or not.

So reach out to people in your life or doctors or qualified professionals for any type of medical or psychological/ emotional help and support you need.