• Secondary infertility refers to difficulty conceiving a child when the couple has previously had a successful pregnancy without assistance. This unexpected challenge can be confusing and emotionally taxing. When faced with secondary infertility, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) might emerge as a valuable solution in cases of tubal factor, male infertility and low AMH . 

What is Secondary Infertility?

Secondary infertility is a condition where a couple is unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after previously having a child without fertility treatment. This form of infertility is often overshadowed by primary infertility, but it is equally significant and emotionally distressing.

What are the Causes of Secondary Infertility?

  • Aging: Fertility declines with age. The interval between the first and subsequent attempts at pregnancy might impact the likelihood of conception due to decreased egg quality and quantity in women, and sperm quality in men.
  • Reproductive Complications: Complications might arise post the first pregnancy, like scarring from a previous C-section, or the development of uterine fibroids, adhesions, tubes may get damaged or endometriosis.
  • Weight Fluctuations: Significant weight gain or loss can affect fertility.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Conditions like PCOS may worsen over time, affecting fertility.

Why IVF?

For many, IVF offers hope, especially when the cause of secondary infertility is unclear or linked to issues like fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, or male infertility.

What is the IVF process?

IVF involves stimulating the ovaries, retrieving eggs, fertilizing them in a laboratory, and then transferring the embryos back into the uterus.

  1. Ovulation Induction:
  • Your doctor prescribes medication to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Normally, a woman produces one egg per cycle, but IVF aims to retrieve multiple eggs to increase the chances of successful fertilization.
  • Through blood tests and ultrasounds, the specialist monitors the development of the eggs.
  1. Egg Retrieval (Aspiration):
  • Once the eggs are mature, a minor  procedure under anaesthesia is conducted to retrieve them.
  • Using ultrasound as a guide, a needle is inserted through the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries and retrieve the eggs.
  1. Sperm Collection:
  • On the day of egg retrieval, semen sample is collected from your partner .
  • The sperm is prepared to fertilize the eggs or to inject inside the egg ( ICSI ) 
  1. Fertilization:
  • The eggs and sperm are mixed together for fertilization. Sometimes, if there’s a concern about the sperm’s ability to fertilize the egg, a single sperm may be directly injected into an egg through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
  • The clinic then monitors the fertilization process.
  1. Embryo Development and Grading:
  • Once fertilized, an egg becomes an embryo.
  • Embryologists monitor the development and grade the embryos based on their appearance and rate of cell division.
  • Sometimes, genetic testing might be done on the embryos to ensure they’re genetically healthy.
  1. Embryo Transfer:
  • After 3 to 5 days of fertilization,selected healthy embryos are transferred to the uterus.
  • A thin tube, or catheter, is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to deposit the embryo.
  • This is a quick and usually painless procedure.
  1. Implantation:
  • The embryo needs to implant itself into the uterine lining and begin to grow.
  • This process takes about a week.
  1. Pregnancy Test:
  • About two weeks after the embryo transfer, blood tests  conducted to determine if the treatment was successful.
  • If positive, ultrasounds will be scheduled to monitor the progress of the pregnancy.

Conclusion

Facing secondary infertility can be disheartening, especially when the journey to conceiving the first child is smooth. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and options like IVF/ ICSI  are available to help you expand your family. With advances in reproductive technology, many couples experiencing secondary infertility have successfully conceived through IVF.

The first step is to consult with a healthcare provider or a fertility specialist who can provide clarity and guidance on the path forward. Engage with a support network, explore your options, and prepare holistically for the journey ahead. Remember, every family is unique, with various paths to parenthood. With resilience, hope, and support, the dream of adding another cherished member to your family is genuinely attainable.

To know more about secondary infertility, you can seek help from Fertility Specialist 

Dr Ila Gupta 

(Director & Sr. Consultant at Ferticity IVF & Fertility Clinics). 

Ilaguptaivf.com