It is not uncommon for couples to want to extend their family. However, it is not unusual to experience infertility when trying for a second or third child. The situation can be stressful and upsetting and also difficult to process, especially if the first pregnancy went without a hitch. Here I answer four questions on secondary infertility.
How long does it normally take to conceive after the birth of a child?
It's normal for a couple to try to conceive for up to a year, before this point it is not classed as secondary infertility. If a couple has been trying unsuccessfully for this amount of time, I would recommend they visit a fertility expert who will be able to investigate their situation and help them get to the bottom of what might be wrong.
Nevertheless, if you are in this situation, it is important to remember that you are not alone. As many as one in seven couples will struggle with secondary infertility and this can be especially difficult when friends become pregnant with their second child.
Are there complications from the first birth which could lead to difficulties getting pregnant again?
Certainly, there are many factors to take into account when trying to get pregnant again. Countless women experience pain following a birth and may not feel comfortable with intercourse for some time. Much the same with a caesarean section, which will leave the mother tender. It's important for both the mother and father to feel comfortable and ready to have another child as stress and pressure will have a negative effect on your body and in turn, decrease your chances of becoming pregnant.
There are more serious complications that can occur as a result of a previous pregnancy and birth. One of which is when a woman suffers from postpartum hemorrhage, an excessive amount of bleeding following vaginal or caesarean birth. Another condition that can lead to future difficulties is a retained placenta. This is when some of the membrane or placenta remains inside the woman and can cause an infection within the uterus and womb. This in turn will block the fallopian tubes and therefore make it very difficult for the sperm to reach the egg.
Are there other reasons that could lead to this?
Yes, with your first born you are obviously younger and as a result your fertility will naturally be better. However, women lose eggs every month and if she leaves a significant gap between the first and second child, her ovarian reserve may decrease.
Your partner's work life could also have an effect. Diet and exercise are very important when trying to conceive and sedentary jobs can lead to slower sperm motility. Adopting a healthy living regime as a couple will help you along the way to a successful conception.
What is your advice to couples experiencing this problem?
If you are in any doubt or experiencing problems, speaking to someone about your condition will allow you to get treatment and rectify the situation. It will also enable you to feel supported through this very difficult period. By coming along for some fertility tests, you will be ensuring you are fully aware of any problems, and are prepared for the journey ahead.
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