It is a myth that if you have already had one or more healthy full-term pregnancies you are very fertile and will go on to have more healthy pregnancies. In fact, infertility can happen to anyone, at any time, with little-to-no warning. Couples who have had one or more biological children, without the assistance of reproductive technology or fertility medications, but are unable to conceive or carry to term another pregnancy have what is called Secondary Infertility. It doesn’t matter if you have a different partner or not this time around. If one of you has a biological child from a previous relationship and you are still unable to achieve pregnancy, or carry to term in a new relationship, this is also defined as secondary infertility.
Around 12% of women in the United States are diagnosed with secondary infertility. Secondary infertility accounts for nearly half of all infertility diagnosis. Don’t think it can’t happen to you! If you already have a child or children but have been struggling to get pregnant this time around, see a doctor to help you determine what may be going on! If you have been trying for a year or more to get pregnant, or if you are over the age of 35 and have been trying for 6 months or longer without success, it is time to see a reproductive doctor.
There are warning signs that you should make a doctor appointment right away, they are…
- Irregular or very painful menstruation
- 2 or more miscarriages
- History of STIs
- History of fertility related issues such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, etc.
- History of other health related problems such as diabetes, obesity, thyroid issues, alcoholism, drug addiction, autoimmune disease, etc.
Why does Secondary Infertility Happen?
The Age Factor
As we age, our body systems are not as vital as they once were. This is especially true if there are poor eating habits, lifestyle choices and high stress. While we cannot reverse the aging process, we can support our health in the best way possible through good dietary choices, healthy lifestyle practices, and regular stress reduction techniques! This goes for male partners as well! Sperm health can decline as men age!
Fertility greatly declines for women over the age of 35, so again if you are trying for another child with no success and you are over the age of 35, get in to see a doctor! Begin to support your body in the healthiest ways possible now!
Cesarean Section (C-section)
If you had a cesarean section birth there may be a chance that there is scar tissue damage to the uterus or fallopian tubes making another pregnancy more difficult. Scar tissue damage in the uterus can make implantation difficult. Scar tissue damage to the fallopian tubes may cause them to become blocked, making pregnancy impossible. The risk of this happening is very low, but increases if there was an infection present.
Postpartum thyroiditis has been found to occur in 7% of women within the first year after childbirth. Overactive tissue in the thyroid gland leads to overproduction of thyroid hormones. This is most commonly caused by inflammation of the thyroid, called thyroiditis. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, may be prolonged even after the first year postpartum, and may lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. If you had this, you may want to have your thyroid checked again, just to be sure thyroid function is where it should be.
If there has been a lot of weight gain since the birth of your last child, it is important to know that obesity increases the risk of infertility. Studies have shown women with a BMI of 35 were 26% less likely to naturally conceive on their own, compared to overweight to normal weight women. Women with a BMI of 40 or more, were 46% less likely to conceive on their own.
Obesity in men lowers testosterone levels. Chronic low levels of testosterone affect how the testes function, which causes all hormones produced by them, to be out of balance. This may also lead to decreased ability to produce mature sperm.
How do I know if I am experiencing Infertility?
If you feel completely stumped, you might have signs of infertility, but aren’t aware of it. You can learn about Signs of Infertility Here…
What about Unexplained Infertility?
Perhaps you have already had a full workup with your doctors and the consensus is unexplained infertility, which means they have no idea why you are struggling to have a baby. Learn what you can do by following these 3 simple steps…
Emotional Guilt and Stress Play Important Roles
Because you are already a parent you have a lot of responsibilities for that child. To add secondary infertility on top of that can be extremely draining to everyone in the family. The hopes and dreams of adding a sibling to the family may feel as though they are fading away. It is extremely important to take care of yourself through stress management techniques. Stress in and of itself can contribute to fertility problems. Find a support group, be open and honest with your partner, seek counseling and other support when necessary. There are many natural options for infertility health-related issues. Know you are not alone and that there are resources out there for you.
- Medicine, C. O. (n.d.). Facts and Myths About Secondary Infertility. Retrieved from: https://www.infertilitytexas.com/blog/facts-and-myths-about-secondary-infertility
- Secondary Infertility. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/medical-conditions/secondary-infertility.html