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When Baby-Making Doesn’t Happen Again: The Pain of Secondary Infertility

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Secondary InfertilityYou got pregnant once. You had a baby. Now you want another one and it’s not happening. What’s up with that? Today, one of the biggest reasons couples are showing up at the fertility doctor’s office is something known as Secondary Infertility. Often these patients don’t get a lot of sympathy. After all – they already have a baby! How could they possibly feel so upset and frustrated? Well, they do. Everyone has an idea of what his or her perfect family looks like, and when it looks like that dream may not happen – it can be incredibly painful. Perhaps the perfect family included siblings who got to play with each other in the backyard, or support each other throughout life? Secondary Infertility can be as painful as primary, and filled with the same kind of sadness, frustration and yearning.

So what happened? Why is conception so hard the second time around? Well, both the woman and the man may be older.  We are starting to conceive later in life, and so while we may have slipped in under the biological clock the first time, the second time around (often years later) we may not be so lucky. Another factor could be tubal obstruction that might have occurred from the first childbirth, a prior surgery like a caesarean section or an ectopic pregnancy. A borderline male factor condition could have worsened. Women can always check over the counter ovulation predictor kits to see if they are still ovulating and men can try an over the counter semen analysis kit like SpermCheck Fertility to see if the foundation still looks steady.

It’s possible that lifestyles may have changed and that may be impacting your fertility as well. For women, even if you are ovulating, if you are over the age of 38, you may want to go see a doctor after six months of trying to conceive. It’s possible that the quality of your eggs may have declined. If that has happened, you may need more medical intervention, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be. At this point a re-evaluation of the male partner is recommended because borderline male factor conditions can worsen over time. Subtle shifts in both partners as you age such as endometriosis and sperm counts may make it more difficult to conceive even if you were able to skip in under the wire the first time!

Secondary Infertility just like infertility the first time around, can also be unexplained. This means that the doctors don’t know why – and this can be really frustrating. We all like to feel like we have some control over our lives and our baby-making plans. Secondary Infertility can be a big surprise in that way, and really hard to cope with. It can be just as emotionally draining as primary infertility, and there should be no guilt for your feelings just because you have a child already. Let it go. The heart wants what the heart wants. The beautiful thing is that today there are many ways to get what our heart wants. So hang in there, and know that you are not alone on your journey in wanting a second child.

Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen - Fertility Advocate Pamela Madsen was the first Executive Director of RESOLVE NYC and is the Founder of The American Fertility Association. Pamela is an internationally known fertility advocate who has appeared on Oprah and countless other major media outlets. Currently, Pamela is a fertility coach and publisher of The Fertility Advocate. She is also a blogger for Psychology Today and SpermCheck Fertility.