“Why can’t I get pregnant again?” is a question many women who’ve already had a child ask themselves. Of the 1 in 8 couples who face infertility, 30% of those cases are due to secondary infertility.
Less well known, secondary infertility can be just as heartbreaking and require the same treatments as a standard infertility diagnosis, but it is rarely met with the same amount of empathy and support. Secondary fertility often comes as a surprise, with couples confused as to why a fertility issue has appeared after a previous successful pregnancy.
At Fertility Solutions, we strive to provide education and awareness for all aspects of the fertility spectrum, especially those that are less understood, such as secondary infertility.
What is secondary infertility?
Couples who face secondary infertility were able to conceive, maintain a pregnancy, and give birth previously, but experience difficulty attempting to have another child. This can be surprising, and couples often struggle to understand why a fertility issue is “suddenly” present. It’s important that those who have trouble conceiving their second or third child understand that they may need to undergo testing in order to determine if a fertility issue is present and if it is female factor, male factor, or unexplained. It is also important that couples remember that there are treatment options available.
When should I see a fertility specialist?
If you are 35 years or older, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a fertility specialist if you have been unable to conceive naturally without success for six months. If you are younger than 35 and have been unable to conceive successfully for over one year, then we advise scheduling an appointment with a fertility specialist. If you have additional questions on this topic, we invite you to read our blog post on When should I see a fertility specialist?
Why do I have secondary infertility?
In certain cases the cause of secondary infertility may never be totally clear, even after testing. However, doctors have been able to determine several factors that can potentially contribute to a new fertility issue, these include:
- Complications from a prior pregnancy and/or delivery
- Fallopian tube damage
- Certain uterine conditions
- Sperm production (male)
Where can I find support?
Couples who struggle with secondary infertility can also have a difficult time finding the right support from family and friends. Many couples are met with the attitude that they should just be happy that they were even able to have one baby—that because they already have one child, it couldn’t possibly be as emotionally painful to be unable to conceive another one when compared with couples who are unable to have any children. Unfortunately, this lack of sensitivity is common, but there are a variety of resources couples can and should use while undergoing testing and treatment, such as local or online support groups. These support groups are filled with others who are going through or who have gone through secondary infertility themselves.
For more information on secondary infertility, please contact Fertility Solutions and ask to speak with one of our board-certified fertility specialists.