Secondary Infertility: Why Can’t I Get Pregnant Again?

Secondary Infertility: Why Can't I Get Pregnant Again?

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Preventing unplanned pregnancy

When I was in my late teens, preventing pregnancy was probably one of the most important things on my to do list. I took my birth control pills religiously, even setting an alarm on my phone so that I took them at the same exact time every single day. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here

Sometimes, when I felt extra paranoid, I even made sure to use condoms in addition to my birth control pills, and don’t even talk about if I was on antibiotics. Any time my body came into contact with amoxicillin or another antibiotic, I stayed away from sex for at least a month. I was not risking it, and the last thing I wanted at the time was an unplanned pregnancy! 

Ready for a baby!

By the time I turned twenty, I was so ready to become a mom, and as soon as I stopped taking my birth control pills, I got pregnant right away! I was so excited, and everything went absolutely perfect! After my son was born, I went right back to my birth control pills. Four short years later, I stopped the pills, and got pregnant again right away with another sweet baby boy.

Unfortunately, after my baby was born, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was unable to go back on birth control pills after that. I continued on with using condoms and natural family planning, still being very careful to make sure I didn’t get pregnant until I was completely ready for my next baby.

Unfortunately, it was just a few short months after my baby boy was born that my marriage began to fall apart. As my (now ex) husband and I inched closer to divorce, we became more and more disconnected to each other, and getting pregnant was not even close to being a concern.

By the time my youngest baby turned four years old, our divorce was in the rear view mirror, and I had begun to start a new life with a wonderful man. Now, with two boys of my own, and two kids of his own, I knew it was time for an “ours” baby.

Difficulty Conceiving

In my little naive brain, it was going to be the easiest thing in the world. I was no longer on birth control, and we were still in the honeymoon phase, so I convinced myself that getting pregnant was only going to take a few months, max.

However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The months passed, and nothing was happening. How was this even possible? We had four kids between the two of us, so obviously babies COULD be made. Why were we not getting pregnant? What in the world could possibly be wrong? There had to be some secret “key” somewhere that I was missing. I kept trying, month after month, to figure out what the random missing piece to the puzzle was.

Reasons why you're not pregnant

After six months of random “trying”, we began to get a little more serious. I downloaded some fertility tracking apps on my phone, and started tracking my cycles, so I would know when my fertile days were. As a backup plan, I purchased some ovulation tests so I could know for sure if I was ovulating or not.

After plenty of reading on the internet and learning about fertility and the way our bodies work, I felt prepared. Each month would start with me super motivated and ready, calendar and ovulation tests in hand, and each month would end with me in tears in the shower, wondering why I couldn’t make a baby when I already had four babies at home. It was definitely a roller coaster of emotions, up and down every month, and it really does play into your emotions and affect your daily life, way more than you would ever expect it to.

What could possibly be wrong?

It wasn’t my age, I convinced myself. I was only 32 years old, for God’s sake. That was super early in baby making years, especially when you consider the fact that my mom was 45 when I was born, and my grandmother was 47 when she was born. I was relatively healthy, having gotten my high blood pressure under control. I was maybe a little bit overweight, so I got really serious about my diet and exercise.

I began to work out and go walking at least four or five days a week. I cut out all processed foods, stopped hitting up the fast food drive thru on the way home from work, and starting eating more fruits and veggies. I stopped eating fried foods, I went to bed earlier, and starting drinking almost a gallon of water a day. Anything that I thought could help, I tried it. I was desperate to have a baby, and I was going at it hardcore, doing anything that I thought might be helpful.

After reading a few articles, I also decided it would be really important to start taking some prenatal vitamins while I was trying to conceive. I learned that folic acid is very important when trying to conceive, and can really help to prevent neural tube defects and can help to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

I became obsessed with being as healthy as possible. Although I really did feel great, I still was not any closer to getting pregnant. Months passed and passed, and although I really felt like we were doing everything we could do, it was just not working. Talk about frustrating!

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Taking the next step to get pregnant

I finally, after about a year of seriously trying to get pregnant, got up the nerve to go see a doctor. I was so nervous, I actually almost canceled the appointment several times. The doctor, however, was so nice! She actually took the time to talk to me and listen to my concerns and worries.

After a lovely time having a pap smear, and tons of blood work done, everything came back normal. So, what in the heck was actually wrong with me? Two words: Secondary Infertility. It hit me like a ton of bricks, even though I didn’t know anything about it. It was now my purpose to learn anything and everything I could learn.

Doctor's appointment

Secondary infertility became my world. So, what exactly does it mean? Secondary Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant or carry a child to term after previously giving birth to a baby. Although it might not be something many people had ever heard of, secondary infertility actually occurs in about 12% of all couples, so it is actually something that is really common.

Doctors recommend making an appointment with a fertility specialist if you are over 35 years old and have been trying to conceive for more than six months. For women under age 35, doctors recommend waiting a year before seeking fertility help.

The truth about secondary infertility

Secondary infertility can happen for so many reasons, and some of them are hard to pinpoint. There are so many things that can affect fertility, one of the most common being advanced maternal age. If a woman has gotten much older since her last pregnancy, it can be harder for her to get pregnant, as she might potentially be entering menopause.

Lifestyle choices

Lifestyle factors can contribute as well, if a man or woman gains a large amount of weight or starts living an unhealthy lifestyle. Secondary infertility can be based on male or female factor fertility issues, and sometimes, secondary infertility can even be unexplained.

In my case, my secondary infertility was unexplained. There is no reason that I shouldn’t already be pregnant. It is super frustrating, and I am still trying my very hardest each month to get pregnant. However, things still haven’t worked out the way I wanted the to. I am now on my second month of Clomid, and am very hopeful that things will work out.

If, in the next few months, the Clomid doesn’t work out like we hoped, we will go forward with a semen analysis for my partner, and possibly up my dosage of Clomid, or switch over to another fertility medication or treatment. I don’t exactly know what is going to happen, but I really hope that I find whatever is going to work for me, and that I finally get some relief.

clomid pills

How secondary infertility can take a toll on TTC couples

To say that my experience with secondary infertility has been frustrating would be an understatement. It’s super hard to have an issue, but not know exactly “what” the issue actually is. It’s hard to not know where to turn and it’s hard to not know what exactly would help your situation. That, for me, is probably the hardest part of secondary infertility, the not knowing. The fact that I know that both my guy and myself have been through successful pregnancies in the past, and we both have healthy kids now, sometimes makes things even harder. It’s almost like there is no explanation.

Secondary infertility is one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with. It’s hard not to blame yourself, and not to obsess over every detail of your life for the last few years and wonder where exactly you went wrong, or when you became “broken”.

How secondary infertility can take a toll on couples

All I can say about secondary infertility is just yuck. It isn’t fun, and it’s really hard to go through. It’s also really hard because not many people understand secondary infertility, and it’s sometimes seen as “not as bad” as primary infertility, since people with secondary infertility already have had a pregnancy and a baby before.

Yes, it’s true that if you have secondary infertility, you already have a lot to be thankful for, since you already have a baby. However, it’s still hard to go through something like this, to have something that has just “stopped working” for what seems like no reason.

Many people don’t understand that, and if you have secondary infertility, your problems might be seen as “not as bad” or “not as important” as other people’s problems who are suffering from primary infertility. While it is true that all forms of infertility are hard to go through, it shouldn’t be a competition as to whose case is “the worst”. However, this isn’t always the case, and there is a lot of “whose infertility is worse” type of battles when it comes to these type of things.

causes of secondary infertility

If you are suffering from secondary infertility, please know that you are not alone. As I mentioned before, up to 12% of couples suffer from secondary infertility, and that equals out to more than 3 million women. So, please remember, if you do suffer from this, you are definitely not alone. There are lots of options out there to help women who do suffer from this type of fertility issue, and please don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and seek some advice or help for secondary infertility.

Secondary infertility

As for me in my own particular case, I am still struggling. I am still not sure what it is that is preventing me from getting pregnant again. My youngest son is now 8 years old, and I have been actively trying to conceive again for 3 years.

I have educated myself as much as I possibly can, and I have taken every single thing I have learned into consideration. I have tried so hard to eat better, take my vitamins, get enough sleep, cut back on stress, track my cycles, have sex on the right days (and not too much or too little!) and do all of the other stuff that goes along with trying to conceive and being a proactive woman.

secondary infertility

It’s hard. Simply put, secondary infertility is hard. It’s super frustrating and aggravating, it can make you very sad and sometimes even depressed. It’s one of those things that not many people understand, which can make it hard to talk about and even harder to treat.

My advice to you, if you are suffering like I am, is to stay close with your partner. Lean on your partner and help each other through the hard times. Talk with your doctor, and possibly even consider joining a secondary infertility support group or even an online forum where you can find some support. Keep your head up, ladies, and know that you are not alone!

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Mia Clark, Guest Contributor
Mia Clark is a mom to 2 rambunctious boys. An avid blogger over the past 10 years, she loves writing about all things related to parenting, baby and crafts. Mia is currently trying for baby #3 and invites us to follow along on her TTC journey that touches on her experience with clomid, fertility specialists and the ups and downs that come with secondary infertility.