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NOTE from the Author: As someone who has experienced both primary and secondary infertility, I will be the first to admit that dealing with infertility is no walk in the park. There are frequent tears shed, visits to the fertility doctors and new procedures and medications prescribed to help increase the odds of conception. It’s not easy. It’s one of the most challenging battles I have ever encountered. It’s just as challenging for my husband. One thing that I will say is that the experience has brought my husband and I closer, and the appreciation we have for each other is indescribable. We were blessed with one little boy 17 1/2 months ago, and we know that we will be blessed with another miracle baby sometime in the future. Never give up faith. Always be there for each other, and though the journey may be hard, the end result will be worth it.
Every mother will always remember the first moment they found out they were pregnant. They may be able to recount the exact date and time as though it had only happened yesterday. Similarly, the moment they first held their baby in their arms will forever be etched into their mind. It’s a moment that is both empowering and overwhelming.
As the months or years fly by since having their first child, a couple may decide that they’re ready for baby #2. It’s natural to assume that if conception occurred quickly previously, that the same would happen again. What they don’t expect to encounter is that they may end up experiencing secondary infertility.
Some couples experience secondary infertility when they had no issues conceiving the first time, whereas; others may be experiencing infertility for the second time around.
So, what does secondary infertility mean?
Secondary Infertility is defined as: the inability to conceive without protection while frequently engaging in intercourse for more than a year.
One of the most important things to remember is that secondary infertility does not discriminate. It happens to couples who least expect it and it happens to couples who may have had issues conceiving previously.
What causes secondary infertility?
Impaired sperm, low count and/or mobility issues in men
This can cause fertility complications because even when the woman is ovulating, the sperm may never make it to the egg to fertilize because of the complications they may have. Most common of these complications is low sperm count and lack of sperm mobility. One shouldn’t give up hope because they are experiencing such complications, because there are medications that can help improve or fix the situation. This complication could have existed the first time a couple was trying to conceive, but they may have just gotten lucky that the complication hadn’t prevented conception previously.
Ovulation, Fallopian tube blockage and/or complications due to infection or endometriosis
Such complications in women can prevent implantation from occurring because it’s possible that the Fallopian tubes aren’t releasing eggs due to infection or blockage which in turn lead to ovulation issues. Some of these complications can be corrected by using certain medications or undergoing a procedure. If couples didn’t have problems conceiving previously, these complications could have resulted from their previous pregnancy or pregnancies.
Previous Pregnancy Complications
For some women, complications due to previous pregnancies can cause secondary infertility. Such complications include, but are not limited too, adhesions that have formed around the Fallopian tubes that were a result from an infection from a previous pregnancy. These complications can be treated fortunately.
Age and Weight Changes and Medications
Advancement in age can play a role in the likelihood (or lack-thereof) for conception. This is especially important in woman. Excessive weight gain can also lead to secondary infertility. There are also certain medications that can actually cause issues and prevent conception from occurring all together. It’s important to consult with a doctor to help prevent such issues from occurring and ensure that there are no health issues that could prevent pregnancy.
Lifestyle Changes: Diet and Exercise
It’s important to keep in mind that what one eats, or fails to ear, can both increase or decrease the possibility of conception. These lifestyle changes when done excessively can affect the reproductive system. Exercise done to extremes can cause strain on the body which then can affect the health of the reproductive systems.
Unknown factors affect millions of people, and it’s obvious that this diagnosis is the hardest to “accept.” It’s difficult to grasp the idea of secondary infertility when there is no indication existing as to why it’s happening. When there is not a clear reason for why a couple is experiencing infertility, there is no clear reason to fix the complication. Unfortunately for some, there will be couples who may not have the capability to conceive.
Coping with Secondary Infertility..
It’s important to keep in mind that there are more than one million couples who deal with secondary infertility. These numbers provided by the National Survey of Family Growth are both startling and hard to take in. There is no doubt that couples who have already had one or more children are in complete disbelief when they find themselves unexpectedly dealing with secondary infertility.
They’re not alone in this journey.
Couples who find themselves dealing with secondary infertility need support from those around them. They may seek validation and empathy as they deal with the sudden grief and acceptance of their situation.