Understanding and supporting secondary infertility

There is an assumption that about two years after giving birth to your first child the next baby will come along and so, your family will be complete. But a surprising number of couples (as many as one in five) is unable to fall pregnant a second time and their anguish is often overlooked and not always fully understood.

While they watch their friends produce a second or third child, providing siblings for their first born, they often hide their feelings and give the impression that their family is already a complete unit. In fact they are still desperately trying for another baby and thinking that because they fell pregnant fairly easily the first time they’re just unlucky and need to keep trying. It can take months, even years before they seek professional help.

It is the case that some couples experiencing secondary infertility may feel less supported than those trying for their first child. The NHS will not fund treatment for a second baby but they will help couples identify any problems preventing conception which at least provides the information to help them decide a course of action. The general perception is they should be happy with what they’ve got and they can be looked on by those with primary infertility as lucky. But it’s not fair because the drive to have a second baby can be as strong as it is to have a first, and we all have different family plans.

At the Herts & Essex Fertility Centre we believe that any couple experiencing fertility problems should have our full support, regardless of whether they already have a child or children.

The average couple will come to us after they’ve been trying for two to three years. However, we would recommend that couples trying unsuccessfully for a baby should seek professional help after a year of trying and start investigations. Women over 35 years should ideally start investigations after six months of trying. The earlier a diagnosis is made and treatment commenced, the better the chances of success.

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