Many women are surprised to find out that they have trouble conceiving a second child after they easily conceived their first — a condition known as “secondary infertility.”
A CDC report based on the The National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) estimate that more than 3 million women of childbearing age in the U.S. who have one biological child have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying another to term. And roughly 800,000 married women with one child are unable to get pregnant again after one year of having regular unprotected sex.
There are a variety of factors that may be at play that contribute to secondary infertility, including decreased ovarian reserve due to age or other factors, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), or–maybe the most frustrating one — “unknown”, which is when doctors can’t find any reason.
People may think that those with secondary infertility may be able to take comfort in the fact that they already have one child, but for many this challenge can be just as difficult as primary infertility (when a couple has never been able to conceive a child after a year of trying). Women and couples struggling with secondary infertility often go through similar feelings of frustration, confusion, and longing. As this Huffpost blog post relates:
A typical response is, ‘Well, at least you have little Johnny,’ or, even worse, people with multiple children saying, ‘You don’t know how good you’ve got it,'” said Krista Post, a licensed psychologist working in Minneapolis who specializes in reproductive issues. “A lot of the work I do is validating the pain and loss of their experience. Whether you’re having difficulty conceiving a first child, or a secondary experience of not being able to fulfill this dream of a larger family, it is painful.”
And for those who choose to seek out IVF treatment, the side effects and strict schedule can be even harder to manage while taking care of a young child.
At Collaborative Care, we help women and couples struggling with secondary infertility. We help patients get to the root cause of their infertility, whether it be primary or secondary, and address it through a personalized regimen of acupuncture, diet and Chinese herbal medicine.