The inability to conceive or have a full-term pregnancy after having had children without difficulty before is the definition of secondary infertility. It is a diagnosis that comes with its own set of stigma and support needs.
Sadly, couples with secondary infertility tend to receive far less social support from others than couples who have primary infertility because the couple already has a child(ren). But the need for support should not be ignored. A couple can be extraordinarily thankful for their existing child and still long for more children.
WHEN SHOULD WE SEE A SPECIALIST?
Physicians can often downplay the possibility of secondary infertility in what was their previously fertile patients and encourage them to “keep on trying”. Advocate for your fertility. If you and your partner have been actively trying to conceive with unprotected intercourse for over a year or you are over 35 and have been actively trying for over 6 months. If you are over 30 and have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, painful periods, miscarriage, irregular cycles, or if you know that your partner has a low sperm count, do not wait one year. It may be time to consult a specialist such as a Reproductive Endocrinologist or urologist, or in some cases your OB/Gyn.
GET SUPPORT FOR SECONDARY INFERTILITY
Secondary infertility is a very isolating diagnosis as couples that are experiencing secondary infertility are often reluctant to reach out to others, including support groups. They don’t feel like they have sounding board of people who can empathize with the frustration and feelings of guilt, anger, isolation, depression, jealousy and being out of control.
The powerlessness to produce a sibling for the existing child often produces feelings of sorrow, as does complicates the current parenting role. You may feel distant from friends as those who were a great source of support when parenting the first child are now linked to sensations of pain and jealously. There are others out there who are facing the same struggles and complex feelings associated with secondary infertility. Connect with others who “get it” or seek support by finding a Support Group or Mental Health Professional in your area.