The term infertility is widely used, but do you know what it truly means? It’s actually a much wider spectrum than most of us might believe: primary, secondary and social infertility are all forms of fertility struggles that can affect couples in different ways. These three categories each present their own unique set of challenges, with differing effects on one’s emotional health.
Whether you or someone you care about is currently struggling to get pregnant, understanding these terms, and what this might mean, can be an invaluable asset in tackling such difficult issues head-on. In this blog post, we’ll go through the definitions of each type and provide some insights into what these conditions mean for you.
What is primary infertility?
Primary infertility refers to a medical condition where a couple is unable to conceive a child after one year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
What causes primary infertility?
It can occur in either one or both partners and may be caused by a variety of factors, such as hormonal imbalances, ovulation issues, blocked fallopian tubes, or sperm abnormalities.
Sometimes, it’s not possible to find a reason as to why you might be struggling to conceive and this you may hear termed unexplained infertility.
How common is primary infertility?
Primary infertility is quite common, affecting around 1:7 couples. About 84% of couples will conceive naturally within a year if they have regular unprotected sex (every 2 or 3 days). For couples who have been trying to conceive for more than 3 years without success, the likelihood of getting pregnant naturally within the next year is 1 in 4, or less.
What help is available for primary infertility?
Since primary infertility can be a sensitive subject for those dealing with it, it’s essential for affected couples to seek proper medical evaluation and treatment. While some cases of primary infertility may be treatable with medication or surgical procedures, others may require assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
What does this mean for you?
Despite the challenges associated with facing primary infertility, there are options available that can help individuals and couples achieve their dreams of becoming parents.
Consulting a fertility specialist can help provide more information and explore the potential treatment paths available.
Additionally, couples facing primary infertility can find support from friends and family members or join a support group to help them cope with the emotional aspects of their condition. You may also wish to consider working with a fertility coach to help you’ve forward on your fertility journey.
What is secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility can occur when a couple has difficulty conceiving after they have already had one or more successful pregnancies. This is also the case if sadly the pregnancy ends in miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth.
If you already have an existing child or children, you might feel guilty for desperately wanting to conceive again. However, the desire to conceive a sibling for your existing child can be very strong, and therefore struggling to conceive a second time around can be just as emotional and difficult as trying to conceive your first.
What causes secondary infertility?
It can be caused by the same factors as primary infertility, but can also be caused by changes in the reproductive system that have occurred over time. These may include age-related issues, such as a decrease in egg quality or an increase in miscarriage risk.
Secondary infertility may also be caused by lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol use, weight gain or stress.
How common is secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility is actually much more common than most people realise, affecting up to 5% of all couples. This means that out of every 100 couples, 5 may struggle with secondary infertility.
What help is available for secondary infertility?
Treatment options for secondary infertility depend on the underlying cause and may include lifestyle modifications, medical treatments, fertility medications or assisted reproductive technologies and IVF.
When trying to conceive with secondary infertility it makes sense to consider healthy lifestyle changes first , such as quitting smoking, eating healthy, getting active and if necessary losing weight.
Additionally, couples facing secondary infertility can join a support group to help them cope with the emotional aspects of their condition.
What is social infertility?
Social infertility is a term used to describe the difficulty for single people or same-sex couples to conceive a child.
What causes social infertility?
This type of infertility can be caused by a variety of factors, such as legal and financial restrictions, lack of access to fertility treatments, and societal stigma. Social infertility can also be as a result of pursuing a career or not finding your life partner.
How common is social infertility?
How many individuals are impacted by social infertility, compared to primary or secondary infertility is more difficult to establish. We do know that it is a bit less common than primary or secondary infertility, but still affects many individuals and couples.
What help is available for social infertility?
Fortunately, there are a variety of options available to single people or same-sex couples looking to start their own family. These include adoption, surrogacy, donor insemination services and fertility treatments. It’s important, if you are considering these paths, to seek the advice of medical professionals and legal advisors, to ensure you are aware of all the options available, as well as any associated risks or costs.
Sadly, accessing help for those impacted by social infertility due to financial/legal or societal stigma is more difficult, however if this is the case for you, finding emotional support will help you in making decisions about your life going forward.
No matter what type of infertility you are facing, it can be a difficult experience for many couples hoping to become new parents. Consulting a fertility specialist can help provide more information and explore the potential treatment paths available. Additionally, seeking support from friends, family or support groups can make all the difference in navigating the often overwhelming journey. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to fertility, but with the right help and guidance, you can find your way to parenthood.