It seems that if you were able to get pregnant and have one child, it can happen again. Yet secondary infertility is an issue that some couples face.
It’s recommended to wait about two years between delivery and another pregnancy. “That allows time for good bonding between parents and the first child, and also allows your body to get ready for another pregnancy,” said Annie Siewert, MD, OB/GYN specialist with Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology.
But perhaps two years has come and gone and you now have a growing toddler, preschooler or school-age child. Patience is the first recommendation Siewert has for couples. The lack of a pregnancy is not defined as infertility until after you’ve been trying to conceive for a year.
“The average couple has a 20 percent chance of conceiving each cycle, and 85-90 percent of couples will conceive after 12 months of trying,” Siewert said. “Sometimes, miracles just take time.” With another young child in the home, couples might have fewer opportunities for “alone time.” They are busier and under a little more stress as they raise a child and pursue their careers.
Significant weight gain or loss can disrupt ovulation, and even a few extra pounds can really impact a woman’s ability to conceive. “I recommend that women get back to their pre-pregnancy weight before trying to have a second baby,” Siewert said.
Daily exercise and good nutrition are key. This includes taking a folic acid supplement. Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol. If you smoke, make every effort to quit, and discuss any prescription or over-the-counter medications that you take regularly with your doctor. “Ensuring that you are healthy really sets you up for a healthy second pregnancy,” she said.
Trying and then failing to conceive is stressful in itself, and unfortunately, stress impacts hormonal function. “It’s not unusual for couples to try to conceive, then take a break or give up and then get pregnant soon after, because that stress is reduced and they’re more relaxed,” Siewert said.
Age is another factor in infertility the second time around. “As we age, our ovaries and eggs get older,” Siewert said. The chances of infertility grow higher after around age 35 to 40.
Complications or bleeding during the first delivery can also impact fertility for a second pregnancy, or hormonal function can change.
Relax and reduce stress
As mentioned above, don’t underestimate the value of relaxing and reducing stress in your life. Getting nervous and upset about not getting pregnant can only make the problem worse.
Understanding your body’s menstrual cycle can be helpful to couples. FertilityCare is a program offered through Avera that’s a natural method of fertility awareness to help couples wanting to achieve or avoid a pregnancy. It works by external body observations by the woman to determine fertile and infertile days. FertilityCare can increase a couple’s chance of conceiving by 20 to 80 percent.
If infertility continues, your gynecologist can look into hormone function or possible anatomical problems that can be corrected.
“I always tell women to first take care of yourself, and second, to take care of your marriage,” Siewert said. “In many cases, all that’s needed is a little more time and patience.”
To learn more about medical care for women, go to www.Avera.org/womens