For many couples, conceiving a first child is a “normal” experience, involving the cessation of birth control measures and resulting in the birth of a baby. After that, however, couples may face difficulty conceiving a second or third child for whatever reason, and this is called “secondary infertility.” When this happens to you, it’s confusing and disheartening and may leave you asking questions.
Why do we have secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after successfully carrying a child to term without any interventions prior. This form of infertility affects 12 percent of American women and accounts for nearly one half of all infertility cases.
Couples who have been previously successful in their conception efforts are less likely to seek help, however the reasons can be medical. They include: maternal age, changes in sperm quality and/or quantity, pelvic/fallopian tube issues (caused by previous birth trauma, endometriosis, or sexually transmitted diseases), lifestyle changes such as weight gain or cigarette smoking.If you are under 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year, or over 35 and have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for 6 months, it’s time to talk to a doctor or infertility specialist.
The emotional toll of secondary infertility
It’s a question every newly married couples encounters, “When are you going to have a baby?” Once that sweet baby is here, the question most asked is, “When are you having ANOTHER baby?” And if you’re a couple experiencing secondary infertility this can be quite hurtful and may create feelings of guilt.
Perhaps you waited to have your first child and now age is an issue, or allowed more years between children than you expected. Maybe it’s random, but you aren’t getting pregnant, by stopping birth control, like you hoped. Is it bad to have an “only child?” Are you going to be happy living life without the family you’d imagined? All of these questions come up with the simple question, “When are you having another child?” The important thing to remember always is that you aren’t alone, and that, just as those couples seeking treatment for primary infertility are experiencing, you have options. Besides counting your existing blessings and maintaining a positive outlook, there are things you can do.
Talk to your doctor right away and don’t be afraid to seek second opinions, especially from an infertility specialist. If advice doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to speak with a different clinician for a different opinion. You may want to consider sperm testing, cervical mucus testing, blood work to check hormone levels and any other test a couple without biological children are seeking on their infertility journey. In the final analysis, secondary infertility follows the same path as primary infertility. Although couples are less likely to receive proper support, from doctors and society at large, the root of the problem is often the same in both cases.
If you are dealing with secondary infertility, it’s important to reach out and find a peer group. Many couples face this issue and have the added burden of of feeling as though their problem isn’t as serious as those couples who are childless. Having support can make all the difference, and seeking medical help for your infertility early on can save you valuable months. For more information or support, check out these websites:
About Liz Alfano
I write "Dirty Words," the blog about things you should know, but might not. I'm the mother of two elementary school-aged boys and wife of one adult aged man. When not writing, I can be found reading or staring into space wishing I was either reading or writing. Sometimes I'm seen vacuuming...but not often. www.mydirtywords.comWeb | More Posts (53)