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Secondary Infertility: wanting another child

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Secondary Infertility: wanting another child

Did you know that 26% of New Zealanders experience infertility during their lifetime? Infertility is defined as not conceiving a pregnancy after at least 12 months of unprotected intercourse; or difficulty maintaining a pregnancy. It’s a staggering number and what isn’t often recognised is that many people experiencing infertility are already parents.

Secondary Infertility’ is the diagnosis given to people with infertility who already have one, or more, child. Causes of Secondary Infertility are many and varied. Sometimes there is a fairly minor infertility issue, such as slightly low sperm count, which has a greater impact than it did with the earlier pregnancy/pregnancies, due to the increased age of the woman and corresponding lower chance of conception per month.

‘Secondary Infertility’ is the diagnosis given to people with infertility who already have one, or more children. Causes of Secondary Infertility are often the same as for Primary Infertility. These causes are many and varied and can be attributed to the male or female or both. Examples of these include, PCOS, Endometriosis, diminished ovarian reserve, and low sperm count. Sometimes these issues are highlighted more the second time around due to an increase in age.

If the first child (or children) was conceived easily, the realisation that conceiving again may be difficult is often a total shock. Some people attempt to search for reason, and unfortunately self-blame is common, especially in women. Anger, resentment, anxiety and depression are also commonly experienced and this may be exacerbated by news of friends’ subsequent pregnancies, and the milestones of your child/children getting older.

Moreover, our society generally has less sympathy for people dealing with secondary infertility than primary infertility. There is immense grief in realising that the family you wished for may not be possible, and comments such as ‘At least you have one!’, although well intentioned, can be very hurtful.

What can you do?

  • Seek help, via your GP or a fertility clinic, if you have been trying-to-conceive for more than nine months if the woman is over 35; or if you’ve been trying for more than six months and the woman is over 40; or if you have reason to believe that your fertility may have been compromised (e.g. complications during earlier pregnancy or birth);

  • Ensure that your social network includes people with no children, or one child;

  • Recognise that women and men often show different emotional responses and may have quite different perspectives. Prioritise your relationship and ensure there is time when issues are able to be discussed; and also time where fertility is not discussed;

  • Recognise that infertility is one of life’s most stressful events. Prioritise self-care accordingly;

  • See a counsellor at a fertility clinic to help you navigate through this time; or 

  • Engage the support of Fertility NZ that is a registered charity dedicated to providing information, support and advocacy to people experiencing fertility issues.

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