Secondary Infertility

Sometimes women who have been pregnant in the past find that they are unable to conceive again – this is called secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is more common than primary fertility and includes those who have had a child and then had problems conceiving a second and those who have achieved a pregnancy but then sadly lost the pregnancy. We included experiences of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy in the section, ‘When fertility treatment fails’.

While primary infertility is recognised as a condition which has an impact on the wellbeing of women and men, secondary infertility can also be a source of great disappointment and distress. A new partnership or a desire to complete a family can make some people feel very strongly that they want another child.

The treatment for secondary infertility is similar to primary infertility in as much as the investigations follow a similar path in trying to identify whether the female partner is ovulating normally and the male partner has normal semen analysis.

Martha and Kate both had difficulty conceiving their second child although their first pregnancies were straightforward.

Martha felt that her GP, with whom she usually had a good relationship, did not take her concerns very seriously. She went on to have IVF to conceive her son.

Martha also raised the difficulty of attending an infertility clinic with a child in tow. She said that she would not feel comfortable taking her daughter to a clinic because, “It could have felt weird” and she would expect little sympathy from women who had no children.

Martha worried about the effect on her daughter of having a mother who was, “Constantly upset and constantly frazzled”.

When Anne’s daughter was about four years old she felt ready to try for another child, but nothing happened.

Eventually Anne was successful in conceiving without treatment, three and a half years after she started trying.

Last reviewed July 2017.


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