You have one beautiful bundle of joy at home. You love your first baby to pieces which is why you decide to try for another one. Or maybe you saw the neighbor’s little newborn and feel the tug at your heart that brought you your toddler. You might’ve thought along the lines of hey last time was easy, why don’t we just plan to have another one a year from now? Maybe you always assumed you would have a large family and never gave secondary infertility a thought.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after you’ve already had a baby, and it accounts for about 50 percent of infertility cases. More couples experience secondary infertility than primary infertility (infertility the first time around). It’s especially common in women who wait until their late 30s or even 40s, when fertility takes a nosedive, to have their second babies.
Sometimes problems getting pregnant for a second or subsequent time are related to a complication that occurred in a prior pregnancy or prior to delivery, such as uterine scarring or damage to the fallopian tubes. But most often, secondary infertility is caused by the same factors that would cause primary infertility — issues like advanced age, obesity and ovulation problems.
It is important to remember there is only a 20 to 25 percent chance of conceiving each cycle — which means there’s a 75 to 80 percent chance of striking out each month. Before bemoaning what could have been or taking a trip to see your closest fertility specialist, you can help yourself further understand what might be getting in the way of conception by reading through and trying the suggestions explained below:
- Preconception preparation. Ask yourself if your cycles are still regular, or whether there have there been any changes that might be interfering with your chances of conceiving. For instance, have you been able to pinpoint ovulation with accuracy, or are you just having sex whenever (which would make conception less likely)? Maybe try using an ovulation kit or app and help you and your partner get back into the groove when you are ovulating.
- Diet focus. Make sure you are eating just as healthy as you did when you were trying to conceive your first baby. Now that you’re a mom you are definitely sleep deprived and have less time for nutritious dinners. Try your best to make sure you get your fruits, veggies, and vitamins in. Additionally, keep tabs on your caffeine intake, too much caffeine isn’t great for fertility, and might even be contributing to your secondary infertility.
- Lifestyle cleanse. Have you started smoking in secret? If so, it’s time to put an end to the habit since smoking ages your eggs and decreases fertility. Has the stress of motherhood made your proclivity for drinking make a comeback? Kick the alcohol to the curb and help yourself to a cup of tea. Are you getting way too little sleep? While understandable, skimping on sleep can mess with your hormones — and possibly your fertility. If any new unhealthy habit has slipped into your lifestyle, now’s the time to put the brakes on it. And it’s not just about you. If your partner kicking back one too many beers or has started smoking, that could be affecting his sperm quality as well.
- Medication review. Have you started any medications that might be interfering with conception? Has a new chronic condition that’s cropped up since your first baby was born? Changes to your health could be responsible for secondary infertility. The good news is that some simple health modifications — like switching to a more fertility-friendly medication, for instance, or getting your chronic condition under control — can help address your infertility.
- Weight fluctuation. Have you lost or gained weight since you were last pregnant? Your weight can impact your fertility, so getting as close as possible to a healthy BMI can also help get you closer to that second pregnancy you’re hoping for.
- Age. Age is one of the hardest components to address. If you fear that your age is what is standing in the way of your second pregnancy then it is best for you to seek out your primary care physician and fertility specialist.