It is a known fact that there are people who have fertility problems and that, in 2 out of 3 cases, it is possible to find out the causes and provide a solution. But what about when you decide to go for a second child but you can’t get pregnant? Nobody expects this to happen. Firstly, because you had already ruled out any fertility problems and, secondly, because the situation is quite disconcerting: it is hard to believe, and especially to accept, that if you are already a mother, you cannot get pregnant again naturally or must resort to fertility treatments to achieve it.
But it can happen. In fact, it does happen because most women decide to become mothers long after 30, and in many cases, by the time they start thinking about a second pregnancy, they are already closer to 40 than 35. Dr Buenaventura Coroleu, a Senior Consultant at the Reproductive Medicine Unit of Dexeus Mujer, explains that “at that age, the chances of achieving a pregnancy naturally are much lower”. This is due to the fact the quality and quantity of eggs decrease as we get older.
That being said, this problem, which in medical terms is called “secondary infertility”, is not only due to maternal age. Over the years, your body changes and is not always in the same condition. Significant weight gain or loss, hormonal changes and thyroid problems can compromise your fertility. Likewise, the presence of fibroids or polyps in your uterus can also interfere with a new pregnancy. In addition, your previous pregnancy may have left some undetected after-effects, such as uterine adhesions or pelvic conditions, which may prevent you from achieving a new pregnancy.
As you can see, the causes of secondary infertility are many. This is why it is important to have regular gynaecological check-ups in order to diagnose and treat any issues. The same goes for your male partner if that’s the case. For men, although not all of them admit it, the years also go by, and their vitality and the quality of their sperm are not the same at 30 or 40 years old or in their early 50s, even if they are in good health. It is true that their fertility lasts longer than that of women, but it can also be affected by environmental factors such as pollution, toxic habits (tobacco and alcohol consumption), hormonal alterations, genital or urinary infections, prostate problems and “silent” diseases; i.e., diseases that do not show any symptoms, such as diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders.
Another important aspect that can lead to secondary infertility is a change of partner, which is becoming more and more frequent, as it is common to remarry people who already have children from previous relationships. In these cases, it is also assumed that there will be no problem in becoming parents again. However, over the years, the situation may have changed, and the problems previously mentioned may occur. Therefore, if you have been trying to get pregnant for a few months without success, it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible and not delay the situation, so that your initial excitement does not turn into disappointment and lead to problems in your relationship.
In general, the tests performed to diagnose secondary infertility are the same as for primary infertility. If you think you might suffer from secondary infertility, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your gynaecologist for a complete check-up and to assess your ovarian reserve. If your gynaecologist detects any issues, they will advise you on the treatment to follow and, if everything seems to be fine, they may recommend a first fertility consultation to assess whether further tests are necessary.
If your partner is a man, it is essential that he also gets a check-up. At our centre, we offer the possibility of a couple’s fertility test, which makes the diagnosis much quicker because it allows us to assess the results of the tests and the situation of the couple together. We also have a Men’s Health Unit to diagnose and treat problems affecting male sexual and reproductive health.
In short: if you already have children and want to become a mother again, but you have been trying to get pregnant with your partner for more than 6 months without success, we recommend you make an appointment with your gynaecologist and follow their advice. Think of the time spent checking that everything is fine as time saved in your favour. Also, try not to worry, because most cases of secondary infertility can be easily solved with medical support.