Guest Author: Anita Fernandes
Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or to carry a baby to term after previously giving birth. Studies show that secondary infertility is on the rise and it now accounts for 6 out of every 10 infertility cases. The diagnosis of secondary infertility can come as a shock to couples who have conceived their previous child or children without any difficulty. It can also place a strain on the relationship and can even threaten the marriage. However, there are several ways that couples can deal with secondary infertility to help them overcome this obstacle.
Get to the root cause as quickly as possible
If you have a child but are unable to achieve a subsequent conception after 1 year of unprotected, regular intercourse, you will be diagnosed with secondary infertility. At this point, your doctor will recommend several follow up tests including ovulation and semen analysis along with a varicoceles check (varicoceles is the leading cause of male secondary infertility) and a hysterosalpingogram (the first test in the evaluation of the uterine cavity. Couples often put off further testing as they deal with the emotional fallout of the diagnosis. This will mean a delay in determining the root cause of the problem which in turn delays treatment and reduces the chances of conceiving.
Focus on empathy and support for each other
You will be tempted to review past decisions and wonder if you or your spouse should have done things differently. For instance, if your spouse encouraged you to pursue your career and delay having a second child, you might blame that decision (and by extension, your spouse) for your current situation. A diagnosis of secondary infertility can cause feelings of guilt, anger and frustration so it is important that both of you acknowledge your emotions and support each other so that it doesn’t drive a wedge between the two of you. You can also seek infertility counseling to help you and your spouse work through your issues. Empathy for each other will help both of you to avoid the blame game and offer unconditional love and support.
Create a fertility road map
Talk to your spouse about the various treatment options as well as how long you’re willing to invest in each method. This road map will provide you with a definite plan and a time frame which will help you overcome feelings of helplessness and being out of control. It will also help both of you move more easily from one treatment option to the next without feeling depressed and angry that the treatment didn’t work. Discussing treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) will also help you address specific aspects of the treatment plan such whether both of you are willing to consider a sperm or egg donor. This would also be the best time to discuss various fertility treatment costs and their implications for your family.
Appreciate your life and your family
Secondary infertility can be overwhelming as your focus shifts to the children and the future that you may never have. This can become toxic and blind you to all the positive things in your life and it can even have an impact on how you interact with your family. Children are very sensitive to mood changes so take steps to shield your little one from your pain and frustration. Despite your busy schedule, make time for family movie nights or board game night as this will help to strengthen your family. It will also help your coping process and give you the strength you need to face secondary infertility with realistic optimism.
Prepare for tough questions
It’s not uncommon for family or friends to ask, “When will you have another baby” which can be heart-breaking because you ask yourself the same question every single day. Discuss these questions with your spouse and decide on appropriate responses, especially if you haven’t told anyone else about your current situation. Your child may also ask you for a younger brother or sister so be prepared to deal with these questions. Children view their parents as omnipotent so it is likely that your child will assume that the only reason they do not have a sibling is because you don’t want to have another child. Make sure that you and your spouse provide the same response so that your child is not confused.
There are also several lifestyle changes and alternative treatments that can help you overcome secondary infertility. High body weight, elevated stress levels and inadequate sleep are particularly damaging to women’s overall health and wellness, especially their fertility levels so make sure that you address these issues. A healthy lifestyle will help to improve your chances of conceiving so discuss your daily routine with your fertility specialist.
Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, women’s health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome PCOSD and fertility issues. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.