Many couples face the issue when trying to conceive a few years after delivering their first baby. The reasons were unclear and often thought to be psychological. However, the reasons could be physical, psychological or simply beyond the couple’s control.

What is secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is a term used to describe the failure to conceive a baby even after delivering one or more children before. Most often secondary infertility is not easy to cope with, as couples try for another baby when they feel that an addition of another member of the family makes it whole. This is when, like in Rada’s case, many couples seek psychological help to contend with their emotional distress.

However, secondary infertility is not rare. Statistics show that in Sri Lanka around 10 percent of the couples are infertile and there is a 50 percent chance that the cause is from the man’s side while one-third percent lies on the woman.

What causes secondary infertility?

There could be a number of reasons for secondary infertility. Listed below are some of the most common causes that reproductive endocrinologist and urologists have come across.

Age factor: Unsurprisingly when a woman tries to conceive during the advanced reproductive age secondary infertility is common. This is caused when the egg quality and it’s health is reduced with age. So, even if she was able to successfully conceive in the past if she has passed the healthy age of conceiving it can be infertile.

Unhealthy sperms: When a couple goes to see a specialist about their infertility one of the primary tests that is done is a sperm analysis. This is because just like the eggs sperms can reduce it’s quality over time due to age, health issues and intake of various substances. Also, an obstruction in the tube that transports sperms could cause infertility.

Pelvic adhesion and other complications: This may sound quite alien but pelvic adhesion occurs when complications in the structure of the womb can cause difficulty for the fallopian tube to absorb the egg. Most often these complications happen due to previous surgeries. Other complications that could take place are uterine infections due to a previous delivery.

Smoking: You might have expected this one. Over the years studies have proved that smoking by both partners can cause infertility. Smoking could also cause complications even after a woman conceives.

Putting on the pounds: It is always a good thing to stay fit and staying fit will increase your chances to conceive. Weight gain most often leads to ovulatory dysfunction. In women weight gain increases the production of testosterone in the ovaries causing infertility while in men it leads to elevation of estrogen levels which again can lead to the same affect.

What to expect if your partner and you have problems conceiving another baby?

Like we discussed before secondary infertility can be emotionally hard to cope with. In most cases we came across, also in Rada’s, we found that couples experience pressure to a certain extent, especially when they conceived a first time easily be it planned or accidental. They would also feel guilty and blame themselves for their past actions such as eating unhealthy food. In many other cases, couples would stress about getting too old to be a parent.

How can you cope?

All the above reasons can lead to isolation of the couples. They would prefer to stay away from family functions in hopes of avoiding questions their friends or relatives ask about their issue. If you are under pressures of secondary infertility you would need someone or a group of persons to back you up throughout the process and help you accept the results that you get at the end.

If you or a person you know have trouble conceiving a baby try to form a help group of the persons that you trust and will help. You can also see a counselor to help you cope more effectively.

Is there no hope?

Of course, there is a number of things that you can try. If you still find it impossible to conceive after a year of unprotected and well times intercourse you are having secondary infertility. If this is the case it is high time you visit a specialist to help you try alternative methods.

Over the years treatment for infertility has improved and most recommended treatments that are available today are listed below.

Infertility drugs: The first option that most infertile couples try in Sri Lanka are medications that are taken orally that will help stimulate the ovarian or injected to help increase the number and the quality of eggs.

For the sperm: If the course of the infertility is related to the sperm your specialist will give a intrauterine insemination (IUI) where the physician would introduce the sperm into the female partner’s uterus medicinally.

Conception: If the eggs are healthy the specialists will next look for best ways of fermenting them. This could be by normal intercourse, intrauterine insemination or in vitro fermentation or what you call a test tube baby. Following careful analysis of the womb specialists would pick the best option.

Outside help: Donation of eggs is another option that is available if your ovarian reserve is damaged and is impossible to conceive a baby.

However, another aspect that you should keep in mind is that treatments are not always successful. You should keep an open mind and be ready to accept whatever the results could be.

In case you fail to conceive at all remember that you can make the best of it with the child or children that you already have. Go to the family functions and interact with your friends. Choose a healthy diet and exercise well to keep your mind relaxed.

During secondary infertility, both partners suffer equally. You can stay strong and help your partner to bounce back too. Make your sex life fun and interesting and not make it a chore to only be pregnant.

If you know better ways of coping with secondary infertility don’t forget to leave a comment below to help other mothers in their difficulty.