Not being able to conceive again after your first child comes as a shock to many couples. But secondary infertility is not as uncommon as you think.
Secondary infertility occurs when a couple has been trying for several months to conceive for a second time - often following a very straightforward conception and pregnancy first time around. It's spoken about less than infertility, perhaps because many couples feel the pressure to feel satisfied that they were able to conceive previously, which means it can be a very lonely and painful thing to go through. If you've been trying to get pregnant again, here are some tips to help you figure out whether you might need some help getting there.
1. WHEN TO GET HELP
If you’ve been actively trying to get pregnant for a full year and nothing is happening, despite being able to conceive relatively easily first time around, it’s time to book in an appointment with your GP. Go together as a couple and if you have other health concerns, or are over 35, you might think about going sooner.
2. WHAT HELP YOU CAN GET
Your doctor will carry out some initial tests and refer you to a fertility specialist. As well as checking that you are producing eggs and your partner is making enough strong and healthy sperm, your doctor will want to know what else could be affecting your fertility. Conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome, edometriosis, fibroids and damage from previous surgeries like a caesarean section or an ectopic pregnancy should all be investigated.
3. WHEN DOES AGE MATTER?
Fertility starts to decrease for women from the age of 35 onwards. If you are in this age group, other factors like an underactive thyroid or diabetes might also be risk factors, while diet and lifestyle factors could be affecting your partner’s sperm quality.
4. WHAT’S IN YOUR FAVOUR?
The fact that you have conceived before – while confusing and frustrating – is in your favour. There are several treatment options that are available and the fact that you have already had a baby means that your chances of sucess are greater.
5. IT’S OKAY TO BE SAD
Many couples who suffer from secondary infertility speak of the silent stigma that surrounds it. Lots of people feel that they should be simply happy with the child that they already have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grieve for the second child you couldn’t conceive. You might also be getting careless comments from people about when to expect a sibling, plus you might be feeling sad for your child who may never have a brother or sister. Allow yourself to acknowledge the pain and cast away feelings of guilt.
For more information about Secondary Infertility, contact the National Fertility Centre at the Rotunda at Rotundaivf.ie