Guest post by Dr Larisa Corda
Secondary infertility is the most common type of infertility in women, yet many sufferers don’t seek out treatment. Fertility expert Dr. Larisa Corda, a regular on This Morning, explains more about the condition and what can be done about it.
Secondary infertility is defined as a problem with becoming pregnant after you have conceived at least once before. People often underestimate how common this actually is, especially after the age of 35 when natural fertility declines much more significantly. Aside from the effect of age and the impact this has on egg numbers and quality, secondary infertility may be due to the onset of new medical or gynaecological conditions, such as fibroids, or Asherman’s syndrome. It could be that you suffer from endometriosis or PCOS and that these conditions have got worse. Your lifestyle habits may have also have changed, your partner’s sperm may not quite be what it used to be, or you may have a new partner. Secondary infertility often has a lot of guilt associated with it. Many couples feel hesitant about seeking help and tend to delay, due to the worry of feeling judged by others if they already have a child, including their doctor. But if you suspect there’s a problem and you’ve been trying for a year if under 35, or 6 months if 35 or over, it’s vital you go and see your GP to start some initial investigations. These can include simple blood tests to look at hormone levels, as well as a semen analysis and pelvic ultrasound scan to look at the womb and ovaries. Sometimes further tests are undertaken that look at fallopian tubes as well.
Treatment can range from continuing to try naturally if the tests are normal, to taking drugs such as clomid to help induce ovulation, intra uterine insemination, IVF and ultimately donor eggs or sperm. If there’s anything that needs to be fixed surgically, this can be done before treatment and may in itself be enough to allow you to get pregnant, such as treatment to endometriosis. With the help of your doctor, create a plan as to what you are willing to try and within what sort of time frame, so that the experience doesn’t feel like an endless void and you create certain goalposts which motivate you, but do not leave you in despair if they have to be changed or shifted.
ASK FOR HELP
Just because you have been pregnant before does not mean the second time round is any easier, especially if the first pregnancy ended in miscarriage or never came to be realised. The pursuit of another can often bring up emotions of sadness, fear, anger and disappointment and so it’s important to manage this stress with the help of a counsellor, who can enable you and your partner to navigate your journey and deal with any pressure from relatives, friends or even your younger child, about having a sibling.
Remember it’s OK to ask for help and having been pregnant before is often a good prognostic sign. But things may have changed in terms of the health of you or your partner, and the sooner this is investigated, the better the chance of being able to do something to help you to conceive
Dr Larisa Corda is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and is one of the UK’s leading Fertility experts. For more details please visit www.drlarisacorda.com