Secondary Infertility: Trying For Another Baby
Have you decided to try for another baby? Was it smooth sailing on your previous conception? Well, the last question you probably expected to be asking is ‘why is this taking so long?‘ – especially if you conceived easily the last time you were trying. You probably just expected to be able to stop birth control, sit back and look forward to your positive pregnancy test. If you have been trying for some time, with no success, you may have secondary infertility.
What is secondary infertility?
Pregnancy is not guaranteed, even if you conceived easily first or second time around. Fertility is fragile and fleeting, and the chance of having a fertility problem is not unusual.
Secondary infertility is a medical problem that can strike at any time. It affects about one in 12 women, accounting for 50 per cent of infertility cases. The official definition of secondary infertility is “the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term following the birth of one or more biological children. The birth of the first child(ren) does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications.”
“Secondary infertility is a medical problem that can strike at any time. It affects about one in 12 women, accounting for 50% of infertility cases”
Could you have secondary infertility?
There are many factors which may contribute to secondary infertility. Age plays a part in fertility as the ovarian reserve drops after the age of 35. This refers to the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries. Weight gain can interfere with fertility hormones, affecting ovulation. Weight gain can also increase miscarriage risk. Endometriosis may cause fallopian tubes blockage. Adhesions following surgery can interfere with egg uptake by the tubes. Infections and STIs can cause scarring. All of these elements could be a contributing factor to the difficulty you are having conceiving.
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Questions to ask yourself:
- Are your periods irregular?
- Are they painful?
- Are you ovulating?
- Are you having sex regularly?
Questions to ask your partner:
- Is he overweight?
- Does he drink or smoke?
- Has he had chemo or radiotherapy?
- Does he have erectile dysfunction?
- Does he cycle a lot?
If you are under 35 and trying to conceive for a year, or over 35 and trying to conceive for six months, it’s time to seek specialist help.
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What can you do?
Staying healthy, eating well, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep all underpin reproductive health. Quitting smoking and cutting out alcohol help regulate fertility. Regular sex, every second day before ovulation, is recommended to achieve pregnancy. Reduce exposure to everyday chemicals to keep hormones balanced, and supplementing your diet with vitamins C, D and E and taking zinc may be recommended by a nutritionist.
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Fertility in mind
It’s hard when you are waiting for another baby. People try to reassure you with ‘just relax and it’ll happen’ or ‘be grateful for what you have’. Are you feeling isolated or ungrateful, angry or jealous, guilty or depressed? Perhaps it is time to consider fertility therapy, where you can get support on weight control, stopping smoking, exercise motivation, sleep, sex issues and stress. If you had a traumatic birthing experience, episiotomy, emergency C-section, postpartum haemorrhage, postnatal depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, fertility therapy could be for you.
What can I expect from the doctor?
You and your partner will both have a general health check and will be treated by an endocrinologist, who is a fertility specialist. Your options and next steps will then be discussed. Some of these options may include ovulation-boosting drugs, IUI, IVF, ICSI or egg donation.
Have you had experience with secondary infertility? Do you have fertility questions? We'd love to hear from you!