The Hidden Pain of Secondary Infertility

by | October 26th, 2010

Imagine having a baby, watching that child grow, and then deciding to expand your family only to have no success. Up to 60 percent of infertility cases involve secondary infertility, a term used to describe someone who has had at least one child but cannot conceive and carry to term additional children. The frustration and heartache experienced by these couples is no less painful, yet secondary infertility often receives less attention than primary infertility.

In many cases, women who struggle with secondary infertility aren’t taken as seriously as those patients with primary infertility. Well-meaning friends and even some medical practitioners may encourage these individuals to just keep trying because they mistakenly believe a successful previous pregnancy ensures long-term fertility. Unfortunately, the same factors that cause primary infertility can produce problems for women who want to conceive additional children. Age, lifestyle factors, and reproductive issues such as low sperm count or anovulation can prevent couples from adding to their families.

As with primary infertility, you should seek the assistance of a fertility specialist if you haven’t gotten pregnant after one year of timed, unprotected intercourse. Women over age 35 may want to schedule an appointment after only six months of trying. Often, couples who experience secondary infertility think they should wait it out, but that decision could actually hinder your chances of conceiving another child.

Many women and couples who face secondary infertility can experience a wide range of emotions, from dismay that another pregnancy hasn’t occurred to feelings of isolation because family members or friends struggling with primary infertility don’t understand the disappointment and grief from struggling to conceive again. When people you know announce additions to their brood, you may feel angry or jealous. Give yourself permission to acknowledge your pain and sadness, and share your feelings with your partner or other supportive people in your life.

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