Secondary infertility: Trying to grow your family

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After successful pregnancies, many mothers experience secondary infertility, the most common form of female infertility, when trying to grow their families.

And baby makes three…

Successfully forming a family by welcoming a baby into a loving partnership can be one of life’s great joys. So much so that many couples soon decide to expand their families by trying for another baby.

But if time passes and pregnancy continues to elude a couple, many feelings can begin to set in, specifically frustration with a measure of confusion.

Secondary infertility, as this circumstance is known, occurs when a couple is unable to get pregnant (or to successfully carry a child to full term) after a previous birth.

“Every woman reacts to pregnancy differently,” said Dr. Linda Karadsheh, an OB/GYN with McLaren Macomb. “And pregnancy can have a personally unique effect on a woman’s body, and this may affect their ability to get pregnant again.”

You're not alone

Further explained by Dr. Karadsheh, secondary infertility is the most common form of female infertility in the United States, affecting more than 3 million women. But it still can cause the couple to feel lost and alone.

The inability to get pregnant again can make a couple feel frustrated, angry, confused and maybe scared, depressed or guilty.

“The most important thing to remember in this situation is knowing that you’re not alone,” she said. “Not being able to get pregnant again following a successful pregnancy is an occurrence couples can find themselves in, and it can cause a lot of emotions, but it is something a physician can help with.”

There is no one cause of secondary infertility.

The causes can vary, and both partners can be contributors.

A variety of causes

Causes from the female side can include a history of pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriages, painful periods, irregular cycles or impaired fallopian tubes. For the male, it could be a low or abnormal sperm count, or problems with sperm shape or motility.

Dr. Karadsheh recommends couples see their physicians before trying to get pregnant again, and also to track how long and frequently they have been trying.

“There’s no need to get discouraged right from the start — stress won’t help the situation,” Dr. Karadsheh said. “There can be many factors playing into trouble conceiving, even when a couple has had successful pregnancies in the past, and it’s always worth investigating with an OB/GYN physician you trust.

“Often there are issues that can be addressed or treated to assist conception.”

Treatment options

Treatments may include fertility medications or injections, or perhaps a minor surgical procedure to repair a fallopian tube.

“Being unable to get pregnant again does not mean the couple is doing anything wrong,” Dr. Karadsheh said.

“Having a family and adding to it is a joy for countless couples, and we’ll do everything we can to help patients so they can continue to grow their families.”


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