Medically reviewed on February 17, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Individuals who’ve already had one baby often want to grow their families and give their child a sibling. And if they didn’t have trouble conceiving the first time, they may assume that getting pregnant again will happen easily.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Some people get pregnant quickly with their first baby, only to struggle to conceive the second time around. This experience, known as secondary infertility, can cause frustration and confusion.
What is secondary infertility and why does it happen? Below, we’ll review the signs of secondary infertility, its potential causes, and how it may be treated as well as how fertility testing can help. (Consider learning more about fertility-related hormones with the at-home Women's Fertility Test.)
According to the CDC , infertility is defined as the inability for a person assigned female at birth to get pregnant after having regular, unprotected sex for at least:
Secondary infertility is simply infertility that occurs after a person has already had one or more successful pregnancies in the past.
Primary infertility impacts around 12% of individuals assigned female at birth aged 15–44 . Secondary infertility is just as common as primary infertility—roughly 50% of all infertility cases involve secondary infertility .
When a person struggles to get pregnant for the second time, they may assume it’s due to changes in their body. However, either partner can contribute to secondary infertility.
Consider these statistics :
The signs of secondary infertility are very similar to the signs of primary infertility. The most significant sign of secondary infertility is having trouble getting pregnant after one year (if the partners are age 35 or younger) or six months (if the partners are above age 35) of having unprotected sex .
Some signs and symptoms that may be related to secondary infertility include :
Like primary infertility, a wide variety of underlying conditions can cause secondary infertility. Below, we’ve listed a few of the potential causes of secondary infertility .
Since either partner can cause secondary infertility, both people may need to undergo a medical evaluation to determine the root cause of their secondary infertility struggles.
Modern medicine has enabled the invention of many innovative infertility treatments. Some of the treatment protocols for secondary infertility include :
While a fertility problem may be alarming, especially for an individual trying to have a successful pregnancy, there's hope in finding the right fertility treatment option.
If you’re struggling with secondary infertility, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. They can perform exams to determine the most likely cause of fertility challenges.
You can also monitor your fertility from the comfort of your own home with help from Everlywell. With our physician-reviewed at-home Women’s Fertility Test, for instance, you can measure 5 hormones that play a key role in female fertility, including estradiol, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone. Once you receive your fertility test results, you can review them with a healthcare provider and determine an appropriate fertility treatment protocol.
1. Infertility FAQs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. URL. Accessed February 17, 2022.
2. Katib AA, Al-Hawsawi K, Motair W, Bawa AM. Secondary infertility and the aging male, overview. Cent European J Urol. 2014;67(2):184-8. Epub 2014 Jun 23. PMID: 25140235; PMCID: PMC4132591.
3. How common is infertility? National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed February 17, 2022.
4. Secondary Infertility. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed February 17, 2022.
5. Evaluation and Treatment of Infertility. American Academy of Family Physicians. URL. Accessed February 17, 2022.
6. Aromatase Inhibitors Such as Letrozole (Femara) vs. Clomiphene (Clomid) for Subfertile Women with PCOS. American Academy of Family Physicians. URL. Accessed February 17, 2022.