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Myth about Secondary Infertility

by Leigh Ann Woodruff
Fertility Authority

Published April 2011
Edited May 2011

Myth: If you already have one child, you know you are fertile and will have no problems conceiving again.

Busted!: Infertility does not discriminate and can strike anyone at anytime throughout the childbearing years. Secondary infertility — the inability to get pregnant naturally or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully conceiving one or more children — is very common. Approximately 12 percent of women in the United States have secondary infertility, and it accounts for more than half of all infertility cases.

Unlike those experiencing difficulty having their first child, people who are affected by secondary infertility are much less likely to seek infertility treatments. Many in this situation are told that they have nothing to worry about, to just keep trying. This can lead to much frustration and loss of precious time.

A number of things can cause secondary infertility including age, damage or blockage to the fallopian tubes, ovulation problems, endometriosis, and problems with sperm production. The testing and diagnosis process is the same as for primary infertility.

Don’t wait to see a fertility doctor (reproductive endocrinologist). If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, the rule of thumb on when to see a fertility specialist is if:

  • You are under 35 and aren’t pregnant within a year of actively trying, or
  • You are over 35 and haven’t conceived within six months of trying.

If you have experienced two or more miscarriages, have a history of sexually transmitted infections, have irregular periods or have especially painful periods, you should make that appointment even sooner.

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