Struggling with secondary infertility? We have the answers you are searching for which include causes of secondary infertility, as well as how to cope with secondary infertility.
What is Secondary Infertility?
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You have started a beautiful family with a kid in tow. You did it! You were able to get pregnant, birth a child and you survived! Now you want to expand your family, but now you are struggling to get pregnant with your second child. Does this sound like you? Secondary infertility is more common than you think! But you wouldn’t know it because it goes untalked about. But let’s break the mold and talk about secondary infertility, so get ready!
What is Secondary Infertility?
Secondary infertility is when you struggle to get pregnant after already having a child.
So what is the basic definition of secondary infertility? Secondary infertility is where you are able to have one (or even several) kids and then just can’t anymore. When people talk about infertility, they mostly talk about primary infertility (where couples can’t seem to get pregnant at all). But secondary infertility is fairly common. In fact, 1 in 6 women struggles with secondary infertility. So chances are if you are struggling with this then so is one of your friends.
Causes of Secondary Infertility
There are LOTS of reasons why secondary infertility can occur. Some primary factors can include the mother’s age, smoking, and alcohol intake. Sometimes a woman’s hormones just get messed up and become imbalanced. Let’s face it, lots of changes happen during pregnancy. It’s no surprise that our body can have a hard time getting back to normal during that postpartum time period.
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Things that happen during labor can also affect our chances of getting pregnant again. This is more likely if there were some complications during labor and delivery.
The struggles don’t always happen only in women. Men can also play a role in secondary infertility. If your husband has started a new medication, this can be a factor. Some medications affect sperm count and quality. Weight gain in either men OR women can also have an effect on getting pregnant again. If you AND your spouse have been to the doctor and have a clean bill of health but you still aren’t getting pregnant, there is another possibility.
Unexplained infertility. This is the hardest diagnosis to hear because there’s nothing you can physically do about it. Unexplained infertility is when they can’t find a reason as to why you can’t get pregnant. You and your husband are both healthy and everything is working properly, but for some reason, it just isn’t happening.
I have unexplained infertility. There, I said it, and let me tell you, this diagnosis was the hardest thing I think I have ever heard!! No matter what category you and your spouse fall into dealing with the emotions of secondary infertility is HARD!
You wonder if what you are feeling is normal. Let me tell you, what you are feeling is NORMAL.
How to Cope with Emotions During Secondary Infertility
First, let me start by saying ALL of these feelings that we are going to talk about are normal! AND it’s perfectly okay to feel every single one of them! There might even be more emotions that you are feeling and that is OKAY! This is NOT an easy thing to go through, but you are not alone no matter what you think.
Yes, of course, you are jealous! It seems like everyone and their dog is getting pregnant. Every Instagram post, every woman at the grocery store. And let’s be honest, seeing someone get pregnant who didn’t even want a baby is crushing! Sometimes you can’t just help but feel jealous.
You feel guilty because your friend just announced they are pregnant and you want to feel happy for them, but you are jealous. This makes you feel terrible! It’s a vicious cycle of jealousy and guilt. There is also the possibility of feeling guilty because you feel like you are letting everyone down, your husband, your kids, your family. Guilt is normal. We can let it eat us alive if we let it. The key is to relieve ourselves from the guilt. I know it is easier said than done! Trust me I still have secondary infertility guilt creep in.
When you want something so bad and it isn’t happening it is frustrating! It’s especially hard when you are doing everything you possibly can to make it happen.
Secondary infertility hurt is a bit different from primary infertility hurt because you can’t just move on with your life trying to ignore children. You are now immersed in motherhood taking care of your child but constantly reminded of the fact that you can’t have another one. You are constantly surrounded by other moms getting pregnant as you take your kids to school or playdates. It hurts to see other moms talking about “I got pregnant and didn’t even try!”. There is no avoiding it. No doubt, it’s also painful when people tell you to be happy with the kid you already have. Of course, you’re happy! But that doesn’t mean that you don’t want another one.
Why is it so hard this time around? What am I doing differently? Why, why why? There are times where you just sit and wonder why you were able to get pregnant the first time, but not this time around. It’s like a riddle that you just can’t solve.
It is hard not to feel like it is your fault. Your body is supposed to have kids and yet you can’t seem to be able to do it again. Doesn’t your body already know how to do it? It can be hard to admit that you just can’t get pregnant. You begin to feel like a failure and then you become embarrassed thinking you are the only one going through this.
Month after month seeing a negative pregnancy test can be EXHAUSTING. You try so hard every month, tracking ovulation signs, trying every new position that is a sure fire way to get pregnant and still nothing! Going through this month after month drains you!!!
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Secondary Infertility depression is real and it can be hard to deal with. There might be days where you just don’t want to get out of bed. You are not alone. Here are a couple of things you can do to help manage your depression:
How to Cope with Secondary Infertility Depression
Find a Supporting Doctor
I am going to be brutally honest here, not all doctors are going to take your concerns seriously. Make sure you find a doctor that will listen to your concerns and work with you to help you figure out what is going on.
Join a Support Group
Joining some sort of support group whether it be a physical group that you attend or a Facebook page that deals specifically with secondary infertility is key! Having a safe place to talk about your emotions and concerns is an important part of this journey.
Focus on Your Family
Although you are going through a hard time, try to refocus your attention on your family. Be emotionally present with the children you already have. Enjoy your experiences that you are going through.
Reframe Negative Thought
You need to grieve. You need to mourn. But after you are done with the grieving process try to reform your negative thoughts by looking at your situation in a different way. That doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to mourn here and there, but at least you’ll be able to know how to reframe your negative thoughts into something positive.
Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. Take a relaxing bath every now and then. Get your nails done. Start a journal to express your thoughts, anything to help you focus on taking care of you.
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What to do now that you Have Secondary Infertility
You have secondary infertility, now what? First, go see a doctor! The longer you wait to see a doctor the harder it can be to figure out what might be wrong. So talk with your doctor to see if you should come in for testing.
The next best thing you can do is to get a support group. Let’s stop making secondary infertility a taboo topic and let’s start supporting each other!
Take it one day at a time. Enjoy the little ones that you do have. This process is a journey but through the right support you CAN get through this. Just remember, You are NOT alone.
Secondary infertility is HARD. It is especially hard when no one talks about it. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I experienced it myself! So talk about it! Spread the word, educate others, and most importantly, SUPPORT one another. Let others know that they are NOT alone.
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Do you suffer from secondary infertility? What would you add to this list that has helped you?
Rebecca is one of our interns this semester and will be graduating from BYU-I in April with her major in Family and Marriage Studies. She is married to the love of her life and has a beautiful2-year-old little girl. Rebecca has a of love music and spending time with family playing board games, camping, or just being silly.