When you have trouble conceiving again, it’s called secondary infertility. If conceiving your first child was straightforward, it can come as a shock when you run into difficulty getting pregnant this time around.
When yet another period comes along, you may start to feel dispirited and confused. Secondary infertility is particularly hard to cope with if all your mum friends seem to be pregnant with their second babies.
Be reassured that you are not alone. About one in seven couples encounter infertility, and secondary infertility is actually more common than not being able to conceive at all in the first place. Unsurprisingly, it’s more likely to affect older women, as fertility rates fall as we age.
Even if you are making love every two days to three days during your cycle, it’s common to wait up to a year to become pregnant. For eight per cent of couples it may take up to two years.
If you and your partner have been making love regularly for a year without using contraception and you’re still not pregnant, see your GP. Infertility is a worry for both of you, so do go as a couple.
If you’re an older couple or have a condition that’s affecting your health, early diagnosis and treatment of secondary infertility is especially important. In that case, you may want to see your doctor sooner, rather than later.
What may be wrong?
There are many reasons why you may be struggling to conceive. Perhaps you had an underlying problem when you conceived before that has got worse. Or perhaps you have had an infection or an operation in the meantime that has affected your fertility.
Your doctor will talk to you about what may be interfering with you conceiving, including:
An ovulation disorder caused by polycystic ovaries or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Damage to your uterus or fallopian tubes caused by endometriosis.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), usually as a result of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia.
Blockage caused by fibroids.
Damage to fallopian tubes from a previous ectopic pregnancy.
Previous surgery, such as caesarean section, which could have caused bands of scar tissue (uterine adhesions).
If you are an older mum, the following conditions can affect your fertility:
Having an underactive thyroid can affect how well you ovulate.
Diabetes can increase your risk of miscarriage.
Effects of diet and Lifestyle
What you eat and the way you live can make it harder to become pregnant. Perhaps you’ve put on weight since your first baby arrived. Or maybe you’ve gone the other way and lost weight? Do you or your partner smoke or drink more than you used to? Improving your diet and lifestyle may help to improve your fertility.