Secondary Infertility: What Is It – and Why Is It Happening To Me?
First, a definition. “Secondary infertility” is a term used to describe difficulty in conceiving and carrying a child to term after having already successfully given birth to one or more children. Unfortunately, secondary infertility is a fairly common issue, affecting upwards of 20% of couples looking to expand their existing family.
As you might imagine, secondary infertility can be a difficult diagnosis for couples to accept since they’ve already successfully conceived a child before – sometimes quite easily or even by accident. It’s key to remember, however, that one’s fertile status is a moving target. A woman’s egg quality and quantity tend to decrease as she ages. Similarly, a man’s sperm count, motility, and/or morphology will deteriorate over time. Other factors may affect your ability to conceive a second time as well – weight gain since having your first child, infections, and diet or exercise changes can all contribute to secondary infertility.
I’m Experiencing Secondary Infertility: What Should I Do?
If you’re having difficulty conceiving again, the good news is that there are options available to you – infinitely more than in previous generations. Before resorting to clinical intervention, you might consider exploring natural options that have proven to be helpful for many couples.
Fertility Supplements: Many women experience cycle irregularity and/or ovulatory issues after their first pregnancy, making it difficult to identify their fertile window. Natural supplements, such as FertilAid for Women, are commonly used to impart hormonal balance and cycle regularity, and in doing so, enhance overall reproductive health. On the men’s side of the equation, sperm abnormalities are frequently associated with secondary infertility. FertilAid for Men is a non-prescription male fertility supplement designed to improve the three key parameters of sperm: motility, count, and morphology.
Diet and Exercise: Excess weight and infertility issues tend to go hand in hand for women (and to a lesser degree, for men, too). Specifically, carrying excess weight exerts a hormonal toll on your body, one that can prove detrimental to your ability to conceive. Similarly, being underweight can negatively impact your fertility as well. A Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered “normal”, and ideal when trying to conceive.
Exercise is important as well, both for its physical and emotional/psychological benefits. In particular, yoga has been demonstrated to be particularly beneficial for trying-to-conceive women.
Other Tips: Ensure that you’re testing for ovulation to determine your most fertile time of month. At the least, you should be using urine-based ovulation tests, which typically give 24-48 hours of advance notice of ovulation. If you’re willing to make a more substantial financial investment, an electronic fertility monitor, such as the OvaCue, can provide up to 7 days advance notice of ovulation, with over 98% accuracy.
When it comes to doing the “baby dance” (intercourse for babymaking purposes), engage in intercourse that allows for deep penetration, ideally the “missionary” position. After sex, elevate your hips (by placing a pillow under your bottom) for 20 minutes or so. This is a bit unscientific, but the theory is that it may allow the semen to pool around the opening of your cervix, thereby giving the sperm a bit of an advantage.
Ensure that your cervical mucus is “fertile-quality” around the time you ovulate, meaning that it’s stretchy, fluid, and thin – in short, an ideal medium in which sperm can survive and travel to the egg. If your cervical mucus does not fit this description, consider using FertileCM and/or Pre-Seed Sperm Friendly Lubricant to rectify the issue.
When to See a Fertility Specialist: If the aforementioned strategies fail to yield results, it may be time to up the ante and seek medical assistance in conceiving. The rules are the same as they are for primary infertility: If you’re under 35 and have been having regular, unprotected sex for a year and have not been able to get pregnant, it’s recommend that you make an appointment with a fertility specialist; if you are over 35 and feel you may be having reproductive issues (painful periods, unusual vaginal discharge, decrease in sex drive, or painful ejaculations), or if you’ve been having unprotected sex without conceiving for 6 months or more, you’ll want to make an appointment for you and your partner to be tested.
Final Thoughts: The Emotional Impact of Secondary Infertility
Secondary infertility can be emotionally painful, and unless these emotions are recognized and dealt with, they can lead to tension in your relationship. It’s not uncommon for you both to experience a higher-than-normal level of stress – after all, you’re older than you were with your first child, you’d like your child to have a little brother or sister, etc. Compounding the situation, you may also begin to hear friends and family telling you that ‘you should be grateful you were able to have one child…’ Suffice to say, if aren’t actually in this situation, it can be hard to relate. Joining a support group (which abound online, by the way) or seeking the counsel of a therapist can be very helpful in navigating this bout with secondary infertility.
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