National Fertility Awareness Week: The Reality of Secondary Infertility

5th November 2016 in Infertility

This information was correct at the time of publishing. It may not reflect our current practices, prices or regulations.

Did you know that infertility can affect you even if you’ve already had a child?

Being unable to get pregnant again can happen whether you’ve conceived naturally before, or used fertility treatment to have your first baby.

Secondary infertility isn’t often talked about, despite it being a surprisingly common condition that many women deal with – often with little sympathy. But why does it occur? And what can be done to help?

In our fifth and final blog for Fertility Network UK’s National Fertility Awareness Week, we explain about secondary infertility and its causes.

Secondary infertility after natural conception

It can be very hard to come to terms with a secondary infertility diagnosis. After all, you’re not ‘infertile’ – you’ve had a baby already. But this is no guarantee of future fertility.

So why does it suddenly happen? It’s possible you’ve always had underlying health issues, which didn’t stop you getting pregnant before. These can include ovulatory disorders or issues with sperm.

Your previous pregnancy and birth may also have affected your body and your fertility. If you’ve had a previous C-section, there may be scarring that could make natural conception harder.

Or you may be older now. Fertility decreases with age, so if you’re trying for a second child later in life, as an older mother you may have problems conceiving again.

Your diet and lifestyle could also be a factor, you may not be as healthy as you were the last time you were trying for a baby.

In some cases, there is no known explanation for secondary infertility. The main advice is to seek help sooner rather than later. This is especially important if you’re over 35, as IVF success rates are higher the younger you are, so early diagnosis and prompt treatment – if you need it - are vital.

Our thorough Fertility MOT tests can tell you accurately how fertile you and your partner are right now, and if there is any reason why you’re not conceiving. Our testing can include SpermComet, which analyses the amount of DNA damage in each sperm – a hidden cause of unexplained infertility.

If an issue is found with either of you, we’ll recommend the best treatment to overcome your fertility problems, with the highest chance of success.

Secondary infertility after IVF

You’ve already had a child through IVF, and now you’d like to grow your family. But your cycle isn’t successful.

It can be just as hard dealing with infertility second time around as it was the first time you had treatment, especially as you’ll be coping with the added pressure of wanting your child to have a sibling and to not to be an ‘only’ child.

We welcome back many couples at Manchester Fertility who wish to have another child with our help. We already know their history, their journey and their successful treatment path.

But this doesn’t mean it’ll work the same way the second time. Our patients may be older, there may be other factors affecting their fertility now in addition to any originally-diagnosed issues. So whilst we know the history, it’s vital that everything is re-examined before any treatment is attempted – you’re effectively a ‘brand new’ patient again.

Many people who’ve previously had IVF or other fertility treatment try to conceive a sibling using embryos from their first cycle. If you have any good quality embryos remaining, they can be frozen and stored by us for up to 10 years until you wish to try to use them for another baby. Using a frozen embryo means that there’s no need to start the IVF cycle from scratch.

Our pregnancy rates for our patients opting for frozen embryo transfer are consistently high. Our latest results show 49% of women under 35 and 46% of women aged 35-37 achieved pregnancy, confirmed with foetal heartbeat.

Overcome secondary infertility

If you need help to have another baby, come and see our expert fertility consultants. Book your appointment online or call our Patient Advisors on 0161 300 2737.

Fertility Network UK is the national charity for anyone who has ever had fertility problems. Visit itswebsitefor more details of how it can help you.


Last updated: 20th January 2020