For women struggling with infertility, primary or secondary, there are solutions to help. Primary infertility can arise in women who can’t conceive after trying for a year without using protection, or after six months if she is over 35 years of age. Secondary infertility happens to women who have already had one or more child but for whatever reason can’t get pregnant again.
Our Idaho Fertility Center Family
Our Idaho Fertility Center team understands why you might feel frustrated, confused, depressed or even hopeless. We want you to know that you are alone; there are around 6 million couples in our country struggling with secondary infertility. The good news is, there is help and hope!
Fertility fluctuates even after having already given birth. Deirdre A. Conway, MD, who spoke about secondary infertility at the National Beat Infertility Summit last spring. She had some insights to encourage those seeking solutions for secondary infertility, explaining that out of her center’s couples seeking treatment, half of them were dealing with secondary infertility.
Evaluating Female Factor Infertility
As a woman, you are born with a lifetime supply of eggs so your eggs are as old as you are. These “pre-eggs” are stored within your ovaries, and as primary oocytes, they aren’t technically eggs yet. They live in a cocoon inside a follicle, basically standing by until you reach puberty. Before then, the oocytes are always dying and you can end up with 300,000 to 500,000 as the others break down and are absorbed in your body.
Eggs and Ovulation Cycle: Even post-puberty, your eggs and ovulation cycles are always changing. You lose eggs monthly until you run out of eggs in your 50’s when you reach menopause. But the quality of the eggs starts changing in your 30’s-40’s. After puberty, each menstrual cycle releases up to 1,000 follicles. As the eggs divide, just one of them will mature and be released, waiting for a sperm to fertilize it. Sometimes when an oocyte divides, a chromosome pair doesn’t end up separating, and the egg winds up with the wrong number of chromosomes. If that egg is fertilized, the embryo will be abnormal, and the body will usually miscarry the non viable embryo.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: This can happen after bearing children and now are carrying excess weight that sets off a hormone imbalance. This can mean ovulating every 3-4 months instead of once every month, markedly lowering your odds of conceiving.
Uterine Scars: If you have had a previous C-section to deliver a child, this can leave behind adhesions from the scarring, making it harder to conceive later.
Endometriosis: This happens when the embryo implants onto the outside of the fallopian tube. We can’t normally see except through surgery because the tubes are so narrow.
Chronic Stress: Experiencing ongoing stress often leads to harmful lifestyle coping mechanisms like relying on alcohol, smoking, or weight gain from a lack of motivation or energy to exercise.
Evaluating Male Factor Infertility
Men can also have problems with infertility resulting from a low sperm quality and quantity. This typically happens when a man is dealing with ongoing stress at work, having health problems, taking medications or having medical conditions like diabetes without managing it. Exogenous testosterone can result from a suppressed production of hormones in the testicles, bringing the sperm count down.
When Should You Seek Help for Infertility?
When it comes down to it, there really isn’t a reason to hold off getting checked for infertility if it is an ongoing concern for you. If you have been trying to conceive without success and can’t stop worrying about it, we welcome you to come in for an evaluation. We are happy to “check the boxes” for you to make sure everything is working fine medically.
Testing for Secondary Infertility
When you come in for an evaluation, we will look at your medical history, check for weight gain and address your concerns so that you get the right testing done for your needs. Screenings help us check egg reserves and ovulation, blood work helps us check your hormones and progesterone levels.
If the problem is because of your anatomy, an ultrasound can be taken of your uterus and uterine lining to spot polyps and remove them. We also look at your ovaries to count how many there are. If the problem lies with your fallopian tubes, we can do a fallopian tube flush to see if they are open. Men can also be tested to check both the health and number of sperm.
Treating Female Factor Secondary Infertility
-Ovulation issues are treated by making lifestyle changes to help you lose weight through diet and exercise.
-Hormone problems are treated with medication to induce ovulation so you ovulate monthly.
-Polyps or uterine fibroids are treated with a hysteroscopy to remove any polyps.
-Fallopian tube issues might require in-vitro fertilization, taking the egg out of the body and growing the embryo in a lab until it is ready to be placed back into the uterus.
Treating Male Factor Secondary Infertility
You might be referred to a urologist for hormone testing, and may have artificial insemination done to transfer your sperm into your partner’s cervix. Invitro-fertilization can be done to control and help with the fertilization process.
As you can see, there are solutions to treating secondary infertility successfully and we hope that you feel optimistic about your own journey. Our experienced team at Idaho Fertility Center invites you to give us a call to schedule a consultation. The right solutions can change your life forever!