8 Ways To Deal With Secondary Infertility
A pregnancy journey more difficult the second time around can be beyond frustrating. Secondary Infertility treatments offer hope.
After having your first baby, you may think getting pregnant a second time will happen easily. But that’s not always true. Many people think primary infertility is more common than secondary infertility. Primary infertility is when a couple has never had children and can’t conceive. However, according to a 2018 review, secondary infertility is the most common form of female infertility. So what is secondary infertility and what causes it? Let's explore the subject, shall we?
What Is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy following the delivery of a child. While it isn’t uncommon, the good news is that you’re more likely to have a successful second pregnancy if you already have a child. Many couples have difficulty accepting the idea that they have conception issues, especially when there have been no such problems in the past, which is why they keep delaying going for a checkup. Doctors diagnose and treat secondary infertility in the same way they handle primary infertility. If you’re struggling to conceive but still hoping for another child, read on for some possible reasons you may have a problem getting pregnant again — and when you should seek help.
What Are The Causes Of Secondary Infertility?
You’re a woman over age 35
It’s probably no surprise that one of the most important factors that influences a woman’s chance of getting pregnant is age. Women in their mid- to late-30s and older are more likely to experience secondary infertility since eggs are lost as you age. Changes in hormones and risk for certain diseases also increase as we age, and both can impact your fertility. But if you are in your mid-30s and are still waiting for a second child, don’t despair. Just because it might take you longer to get pregnant doesn’t mean you won’t get pregnant again — it just means you have less time to work with.
You’re a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that can disrupt ovulation. It is a common cause of secondary (and primary) infertility. If your periods are irregular or absent, talk with your doctor to see if you might have PCOS. In addition to PCOS, abnormalities caused by previous surgeries or an infection also may cause infertility.
In both men and women, being overweight can cause challenges with conceiving. In women, added pounds can contribute to insulin resistance and elevated testosterone levels, which can stifle ovulation. Also, implantation rates are lower for those who are overweight (or underweight) than those at a healthy weight. For men, excess weight can increase estrogen levels, leading to lower sperm counts.
You drink too much alcohol
For men or women, drinking too much alcohol can cause problems with conception. Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption in women (more than two drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week) increases the time it takes to conceive. It also reduces your chances of delivering a healthy baby. Men who are trying to conceive can also benefit from drinking less alcohol. Moderate to heavy consumption can disrupt hormones and hinder sperm production.
It’s no surprise that smoking isn’t good for you. But you might not know that smoking can wreak havoc on your fertility, too. Women who smoke are more likely to experience infertility. Smoking can damage eggs and cause ovulation problems. Men aren’t off the hook either. Research shows that smoking may damage sperm DNA.
Treating Secondary Infertility
Seek Medical Assistance
ProactivelyWith each year that passes, your chances of conceiving decrease significantly. Sometimes even doctors downplay infertility. Experts recommend seeing your doctor after a year of unsuccessful unprotected sex if you're under age 35 and after six months if you're over 35. But if you're worried sooner, speak up.
Create a Plan
Sit down with your partner and make a "fertility road map". One that outlines what you're willing to try and for approximately how long. Would you do in vitro fertilization? Would you consider an egg donor? How much money can you spend on treatment? Then build in a timeline. When you at least loosely define a time frame, dealing with secondary infertility doesn't feel like an endless void. Accept Your FeelingsAnger, sadness, and anxiety are common among parents struggling to expand their family. Having a child already doesn't make going through infertility any easier. Meeting with a mental health professional or seeking out blogs and online groups for secondary infertility can help. The website of the National Infertility Association, resolve.org, is a good place to start.
If You Pursue Treatment, Prepare for Logistics
Undergoing fertility treatment requires precise scheduling of frequent tests and procedures. This is a tricky proposition when you're a parent. Your instinct might be to keep your treatment a secret. But it can make your life easier to enlist a friend or relative to help with childcare. Also, choose a doctor's office you're comfortable with. You'll be spending a lot of time there; a compassionate staff can make treatment easier.
Prep for Tough Questions
No matter how many times you've been asked, "When will you have another baby?", the query still stings. Try coming up with a quick comeback—like 'We love having an only child'—and commit it to memory. Another heartbreaker: your child's pleas for a sibling. Try, "You're so wonderful we don't need anyone besides you." Or maybe admit, "We'd like nothing more than to make you a big brother. We hope it'll happen."
Focus on Now
One of the biggest challenges is balancing enjoying the child you have with wondering if you'll ever get the larger family you want. That is tough. Worrying about what's happening next robs you of the pleasure of the moment. It's not easy, but counseling and talking yourself through the rough moments can help you say, 'I'm doing the best I can, and meanwhile I'm living my life.'