Secondary infertility explained

5 min
Updated Oct 30th, 2023

Table of contents

There are a number of myths surrounding infertility which are commonly believed to be true. One such myth is that infertility only affects first pregnancies. ‘Secondary infertility’ is not a widely known condition, but often comes as a surprise to many couples.

What is secondary infertility? 

Secondary infertility is defined by the NHS as where someone has had one or more pregnancies in the past but is having difficulty conceiving again. It catches a lot of couples off-guard, particularly if they did not have much difficulty getting pregnant the first time round.

Trying to conceive is a very complicated process, many biological factors must go right in order to achieve conception, let alone maintaining a healthy pregnancy. If you have been trying consistently for over a year without success you could be experiencing problems with any of the following: 

  • Fertilisation
  • Egg quality 
  • Sperm quality 
  • Ovulation 
  • Implantation 

As with primary infertility, there are a number of conditions or diseases which contribute towards to problems with any of the above. 

What are the causes of secondary infertility? 

Secondary infertility can be down to male, female or both partners.  This blog opened up by highlighting the myth that infertility only affects first pregnancies. Another widespread misconception when it comes to infertility is that it is mainly a female issue. Male infertility is just as common as female infertility and is important to consider when looking at the causes of secondary infertility. 

Causes of secondary infertility in men: 


A varicocele is when the veins, in this case within the scrotum, enlarge and this can cause overheating which in turn can cause oxidative stress and harm sperm production.


Although men can continue to stay fertile throughout their lives, there is a direct correlation between getting older and sperm quality reducing.

Reduced testosterone level

Testosterone is important when it comes to sperm production. Testosterone levels can reduce because of aging, injury to genital organs or certain conditions e.g. diabetes, thyroid issues and some STIs.  

Prostate issues

Prostate enlargement can lower sperm count and might be the sign of cancer. Prostate removal, often due to cancer, can cause fertility issues. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can also cause infertility.  

Obesity and weight gain

Increased weight in men has been associated with a lower testosterone level, poorer sperm quality, and reduced fertility as compared to men of normal weight.

Causes of secondary infertility in women 


Getting pregnant a second time can become complicated as you get older. Studies show that women’s ovarian reserve goes down significantly after 37 years old, and it continues to deplete right up until menopause 

Caesarean delivery

A caesarean or c-section delivery can sometimes cause scarring and damage to the uterus which in turn could interfere with future pregnancies.  

Fallopian tube issues

Infection, surgery and endometiosis can cause issues with fallopian tubes meaning that eggs may not pass successfully from the ovaries to the uterus, thereby preventing fertilisation.  


Women who breastfeed their children generally remain period-free and do not ovulate because of the effect of the breast-feeding hormone, prolactin.  Periods generally return once breast-feeding is stopped. 

How do I know if I am suffering from secondary infertility? 

Quite often, couples conceive straight away and have their first child after trying for a short time. When trying for the second, it can be more difficult, and this can cause worry.  Couples wrongly assume that it will be quick and easy every time.  Having patience, managing stress and avoiding unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol or smoking will often lead to success. 

If the female partner is under the age of 35, it is recommended that you have unprotected sex for a year before going to see your doctor. If you are over the age of 35, it is better to go and have a check-up after 6 months of trying. In these cases your doctor will run a series of tests to try and help figure out why conception has not occurred. 

Supplementation can help secondary infertility…

Many male fertility supplements and female fertility supplements focus upon the benefits of one ingredient or contain strong antioxidants which can upset your metabolic balance, damaging the quality of your sperm and/or eggs.

Impryl is different, proven to increase your chances of becoming parents. Impryl enables your body to maintain its natural metabolic balance and so ensures the very best chance of pregnancy, including those seeking assistance from reproductive technologies such as IVF. 

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