You conceived your first baby on the first try. No stress, no counting on the calendar, not even quite sure you were ready.
The next one should be just as simple, right? Unfortunately, your first experience with conception does not necessarily predict what will happen the next time around.
Below, we answer some common questions we hear about secondary infertility.
Read on to learn more about this condition, as understanding your fertility clock is key to making each possible moment of conception count.
What is secondary infertility?
Secondary infertility means you’re experiencing difficulty conceiving after a previous pregnancy, whether it ended in birth or miscarriage. Its prevalence in couples has increased by 60 percent in last 20 years, occurring in nearly 12 percent of couples. Often couples will delay seeking help because they assume everything will fall into place as it did the first time.
What is the most common cause of secondary infertility?
The most common cause of secondary infertility is increasing maternal age. More frequently, women are delaying childbearing. In general, almost 15 percent of women wait to have their first child until after the age of 35. Some women may be close to 40 before they are ready for baby number two, an age when fertility rates decline rapidly.
How does aging affect fertility in general?
You are born with all of the eggs you are going to have. They age as your body does and lose the ability to form a healthy embryo. At age 40, almost half of your eggs are genetically abnormal and unable to grow. By age 42, over 80 percent are abnormal. For this reason, it is so important that women over 35 do not miss any opportunities to conceive. Using an ovulation kit or an iApp to predict ovulation can insure that you know when is the fertile time of your cycle to optimize your chances of conception.
Can my diet and overall health influence my ability to conceive the second time around?
Many women are surprised to hear that their diet and overall health cannot overcome the effects of aging. Often times after a baby, women find it difficult to lose the extra weight they had gained. This, too, can cause fertility problems. Women who are overweight have higher levels of estrogen, because estrogen is stored in fat cells. When estrogen levels are elevated, the normal cycle of ovulation can be shut down. Women may find that their periods become less predictable or they may skip them all together. If your periods are more than 35 days apart, talk to your doctor about dietary changes you can make to lose weight or about medications that can help you to ovulate.
What forgotten factors might be hindering my chances of conception?
Everyday factors may also hinder a woman’s likelihood of conceiving. After baby number one, some women simply do not have the time or energy for sex. Having a toddler, or two, at home leaves many moms exhausted. The last thing on their mind after a day of work, making dinner, chasing a little one, and organizing the house is being intimate with their partner. As much as they love their partner, sex can feel like a chore. In these cases, identifying the most fertile times of the month – with the help of an ovulation calculator – can focus a woman’s energies to the times that they are most likely to conceive.
Dealing with secondary infertility can awaken a variety of emotions, and the experience is unique for every woman. You may feel guilty for waiting so long to try again, stressed about making time for sex while juggling the duties of a wife and mother, or angry that this is happening to you. Do your best to accept these emotions as they come and know that everything you are feeling is normal. Be open and honest with your OB/Gyn and she will work with you to discuss your options and help you through this journey.
The Mommy Docs are practicing OB/GYNs and stars in the hit show “Deliver Me,” airing daily on Discovery Fit and Health, in addition to a new series in development. The Docs are also authors of “The Mommy Docs’ Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy and Birth,” and spokespersons on behalf of Insight Pharmaceutical’s portfolio of women’s health products, including e.p.t and Monistat.Their opinions and professional recommendations are their own.