July 14, 2022 | By: Kacie Shrock, RN, BSN
So, you were officially cleared to start trying to conceive baby #2, but it’s taking a little longer this time around than expected. You are not alone! Secondary infertility actually occurs at about the same rate as primary (first-time) infertility. According to the CDC, about 12.5% of women or 1 in 8 trying for another child have trouble conceiving.
Secondary infertility and possible causes
Secondary infertility is the inability to get pregnant a second time after one year of trying to get pregnant if you are under the age 35, or 6 months if you are over the age of 35. There could be many diagnoses that contribute to secondary infertility, including the following:
- Problems with ovulation
- Blocked fallopian tube(s)
- Scar tissue
- Uterine abnormalities
- Hormonal imbalances
- Male factor infertility
One of the most common reasons for difficulties trying to get pregnant with baby #2 is age. Many couples decide to wait until their late 20’s or early 30’s to conceive their first baby and then wait a few years in between, which makes age one of top causes for secondary infertility. A decline in female fertility begins around age 30, but rapidly increases at the age of 35, however, it is not impossible to get pregnant after the age of 35 and some women still have an outstanding ovarian reserve!
Don’t let this fact scare you if you are approaching the age of 35 or are older, however use this information to your advantage and seek testing/treatment in advance if you do not conceive within the first 6 months of trying.
When to Seek Treatment
The standards for seeking fertility treatment are the same for both primary and secondary infertility. Seek fertility testing and treatment if:
- You’re under age 35 and have been trying to conceive for a year or more.
- You're 35 or older and have been trying to conceive for 6 months or more.
- You're 40 or older and want immediate evaluation and treatment.
Although these are the standards set by ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology), you know your body best. If you feel like there may be something going on, or perhaps your cycles never regulated after your first baby, you can absolutely reach out to your OB/GYN sooner and request some basic testing. Remember, you are your best advocate!
Tips for Conceiving Baby #2
- Your body, hormones and cycle may have changed since your first pregnancy, so it is a good idea to start tracking your cycles before you start planning for baby #2 so you can pick up on any irregularities or changes. Download the Premom app and start tracking ovulation for a good 3-6 months prior to trying to give yourself time to learn your body again.
Improve your lifestyleYou may have done this for baby #1, if so, you should already know what to do! Start eating lots of whole foods that support your fertility, packed full of antioxidants and vitamins! Move your body and get some exercise, however if you are newly post-partum, make sure you get clearance from your doctor first. Decrease your caffeine and alcohol intake, and cut out any tobacco. Your partner can also start making these life-style improvements, remember, sperm are just as important!
Find a good quality prenatalYou may have really enjoyed your first prenatal vitamin and that’s okay if you stick to the same one, just make sure you read the ingredients and that it is third party tested. You want to find a good quality prenatal with methylated folate and choline to help with your baby’s brain development. You can also discuss with your doctor if you need any additional supplements such as vitamin D or an Omega 3.
Destress anyway you canI know this one may sound hard, especially with a baby/toddler at home! Stress does not cause infertility, however stress can have an effect on the reproductive hormones which ultimately affect trying to get pregnant. Find ways to help you de-stress that are healthy and also support your fertility, like exercising, acupuncture or reading a book!
Wrapping it up.
If you are having a harder time getting pregnant baby number two, there may be a few reasons why. When you are ready, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN to discuss some possible testing to see if you can get down to the root cause. In the meantime, work on supporting your fertility naturally and really start to learn your body and hormones.
If you haven’t already, download the Premom app and use it in combination with the Premom Quantitative Ovulation Kits to test for ovulation. Remember, sperm can live for up to 3-5 days, but the egg only survives for about 12-24 hours. You want to make sure you are timing intercourse accurately so predicting your ovulation with ovulation tests and using the Premom app can help you do exactly that!