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Trying to get pregnant with your second or subsequent child isn’t always as easy as it was the first time around. Many couples find themselves faced with fertility issues when they try to grow their family, they find themselves suffering from secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is defined, primarily, as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully having one or more children. Millions of couples suffer from secondary infertility. Although so many find themselves suffering through the inability to have another child they often don’t seek treatment or seek out the social support they need. They have a child already so noone wants to hear about their problems with infertility which causes couples to often suffer in silience with secondary infertility.
For many of the couples who find themselves suffering from secondary infertility they were able to easily (or at least without too much trouble) conceive their first child(ren), so the idea that it may be difficult to have another child never crossed their minds. However, your reproductive health can change fairly quickly. A woman’s quantity and quality of eggs can decrease rapidly and result in fertility issues only months after her first child is born. A man’s sperm count and the quality of his sperm can also rapidly change impacting the couples ability to conceive subsequent children.
There are many factors that can cause a couple to experience fertility issues after successfully having one or more children. Age can play a big role, particularly if you waited until your 30s to have your first child. A woman is most fertile between the ages of 18-30 so if she waits until she is 30 or older to have her first child she will be that much older when she tries for the second and may likely experience some difficulty in conceiving. Untreated infections, endometriosis, or chronic illnesses or conditions can all play a role as well, for both men and women.
Luckily most couples, about 85-90%, will conceive within a year of trying. This holds true even if you are trying for your second (or more) child. Most doctors recommend that you seek medical help if you have not conceived after 1 year of trying if you are under 35, 6 months of trying for women over 35, and 3 months of trying for women over 40. Not every woman will be able to get pregnant the first try every time, it sometimes takes several tries. Try to stay positive and seek advice from your doctor if you are worried.
Suffering from secondary infertility is painful and couples shouldn’t suffer alone and in silence. Be sure to talk about how you are feeling with your spouse, your family, friends and seek out a support group of other couples suffering from secondary infertility. Unfortunately, you may not get the support you need from friends and family who may think you should be happy that you have one child so a support group of others going through a similar situation may be your best bet. If you can’t locate a support group talk to your ob/gyn for suggestions or visit RESOLVE (the national infertility association).
Try to stay positive and don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you think you are having fertility issues.