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 had conceived easily with her daughter but had difficulty when she started trying for a...
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 found that people couldnt really believe there was a problem with her fertility because...
Well it was horrible. It was completely awful. And I mean I am not someone, I suppose I am not someone who deals with uncertainty very well anyway. And I think that just really pretty quickly into it, it got to be quite a big thing, especially for me, you know, to have people saying, “Oh well.” This is the thing, as everybody, especially as you have got one. Everybody’s reaction is, “Oh you have had one. There is nothing wrong.” You know, and they somehow assume, may be this is putting too much on people for me. But to me it felt like people somehow assuming that you must be doing something wrong. Because there is no way that this couldn’t be happening because you already have a child. So yes. So I mean it is not only that it is sort of a problem for what going on for you, but you are not getting an awful lot of support, at least I wasn’t from, you know, anybody else either, so… yes.
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.
It was difficult to go through infertility treatment while also looking after a young child.
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.
After 18 months of trying for a second baby Anne went to her GP who referred her to a clinic. She was unable to pursue treatment because her partner was unwilling to take part.
Anne found it hard to cope with secondary infertility and wishes there had been more support for...
Eventually Anne was successful in conceiving without treatment, three and a half years after she started trying.
Last reviewed July 2017.