A Case of Secondary Infertility

When people think about infertility, they think of a childless couple. However, there are quite a few couples that already have one child, try to expand their family with another child, but find that they are unable to. This is called secondary infertility; it’s the inability to conceive after having had one or more successful pregnancies. The medical causes for this type of infertility are very similar to the ones that cause primary infertility and include:

  • Sperm problems
  • Tubal factors
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovulation difficulties

Though the causes are very similar, there are certain differences too. One of the main factors is that the couple is much older and that is exactly why time is at a premium. In addition, there are certain unique emotional factors connected to secondary infertility. The couple that experiences it typically fined that they can’t really gain too much sympathy from family and friends.

As a matter of fact, they are unable to elicit any sympathy even from other infertile couples. It’s not surprising that couples that that have primary infertility resent couples that already have one child and feel that they are unfortunate that they can’t have another kid. The very common remark that couples with secondary infertility get to hear is “You already have one child.

Instead of complaining that you can’t have another, why not be grateful for what you already have?” These unfortunate couples are caught in world that is somewhere between the fertile and infertile one and are given the proverbial shove from both.

The Common Responses

  • In most instances, these couples feel very guilty and frustrated. The latter stems from the surprise factor as they feel it won’t really be difficult for them to have another child when they have already successfully borne one. Little do they realize that with time, there can be dip in sperm counts or there can be a blockage in tubes.
  • Couples that have a child at home also tend to feel very guilty. This guilt arises because they feel that they aren’t appreciative of the fact that they already have a child. They also feel guilty because they feel they are unable to provide their child with a sibling.
  • At times, the child of the infertile couple might inadvertently bring pressure on his parents by asking when he is going to have a baby brother/sister and for children, peer pressure plays a very important role in this respect.
  • At times, parents tend to become overprotective and they fear that something untoward may happen to their child, or they may also pressurize him to be a high achiever.

Is medical treatment helpful?

Most couples with secondary infertility opt not to take medical treatment. This is largely because they aren’t too sure about whether they have a medical problem in the first place. They just feel that it’s taking longer for them to conceive, this time around and they just keep on trying and feel that if they were able to have one child, they will be able to do so, once again.

Not many people who have come in touch with couples with secondary infertility realize that the latter can be as frustrating as first time infertility and coming to terms with it is equally difficult.

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Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.