Secondary infertility -- the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after having a biological child -- is far more common than most people realize. Here’s what you need to know about getting help and coping along the way.

What is secondary infertility?

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association defines secondary infertility as the inability to conceive a child or carry a pregnancy to term after previously having children with no difficulty.

As with primary infertility, the general rule of thumb is that couples should seek help if the female is under 35 and has been trying to conceive for one full year, or if the female is over 35 and has been trying for at least 6 months.

Although approximately 30 percent of all of infertility is secondary infertility, we don't often hear people talking about their struggles to become pregnant once they have children.

Although approximately 30 percent of all of infertility is secondary infertility, we don't often hear people talking about their struggles to become pregnant once they have children.

Why don't we hear much about it?

There are a few reasons why couples might keep their struggles to themselves.

When you are facing secondary infertility, your doctor might not be as responsive as he or she would be if you were trying for your first child, since some physicians tend to think that if you have gotten pregnant, maintained a pregnancy and given birth, then all that's necessary is a bit of patience. If you are met with resistance from your obstetrician, it can be tough to push back, but you are well within your right to do so.

It can also be difficult to find as much emotional support as women who struggle with primary infertility are offered. Too often, women with secondary infertility are told that they should be grateful for the child(ren) they already have, which can trigger feelings of guilt and shame.

Where can you find help?

If you are struggling emotionally and you are having difficulty finding a support network, RESOLVE is a great resource, offering a wealth of information about diagnosis, treatment, family building options and so much more.

To find a secondary infertility support group in your local area, visit RESOLVE's website, where they offer a comprehensive list of groups across the nation.

When you already have a child, infertility is emotionally draining, just as it is with primary infertility. The fact that you have a child doesn't mean you have less of a right to be heard, treated and offered support along the way.

More about trying to conceive

Natural ways to combat infertility
So, you need a sperm donor
Trying to conceive: Foods for fertility

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