Disclaimer :: Our partners at Fertility Specialists of Texas crafted this post to discuss secondary infertility and the options couples can pursue to remedy this fertility issue.
You step into the playroom to announce nap time and are immediately overtaken by the sunlit scene that unfolds before you. Your sweet little girl, all colors and curls, is having a tea party with her beloved baby doll. Her tongue pokes out to the side as it always does when she’s deep in concentration.
And. You. Melt.
You watch, rapt by the innocent simplicity of it all, and the ache you’ve been pushing down for months swells to the brim, filling your eyes, and tumbling down your cheeks.
“She would make the most amazing big sister,” you think to yourself for the millionth time as your hand unknowingly moves to rest on your stomach — the space left empty and unoccupied despite more than a year of trying to conceive.
You Are Not Alone
Approximately 12 percent of American moms know this scene, know the battle of secondary infertility, reports Resolve, the National Infertility Association.
Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, after having one or more biological children without the support of fertility medications. As is the case with first-time infertility, we advise couples to actively try to conceive for one year on their own if mom is under age 35, or for six months if she is 35 or older.
If you are trying to expand your family, but have known health concerns, such as irregular menstrual cycles or previous miscarriages, seek council from a fertility specialist sooner rather than later.
Women, unfortunately, are always racing the clock. Reproductive aging is a big cause of secondary infertility. Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have and quantity — known as ovarian reserve — and quality decrease as we age.
So, what’s your first step? Get your AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) level checked. This quick, baseline blood test will tell you and your physician if you have a low ovarian reserve, which means few remaining eggs, a normal reserve, or an abnormally high reserve, which may indicate the presence of PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome).
Like first-time infertility, facing the uncertainties of reproductive challenges can be emotionally overwhelming for even the strongest of moms. What’s important to remember, is that there is help; there are options and opportunities.
A couple who is struggling with secondary infertility will undergo the same basic fertility evaluation that first-time fertility patients go through. There will be a thorough review of both partners’ medical histories, a consultation, semen analysis, blood work, and a sonogram. Based on the findings, next steps will be determined.
Men and women contribute equally to infertility challenges and, as such, treatment is based on whether mom or dad is experiencing an issue. Treatment may be as simple as overcoming an ovulation issue with medication and timed intercourse, or may require more advanced methods like intrauterine insemination (IUI) to counteract low sperm motility (speed) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to surpass advanced endometriosis that otherwise may prevent natural conception.
You Can Do This
You have a vision for your family. You can see your sweet girl, all colors and curls, holding her swaddled sibling, cooing sweetly, radiating pure love and joy. Secondary infertility does not have to change that vision. It simply means you may need a little more science on your side.
You can do this. I help girls and boys get promoted to big sisters and brothers every day.
Seek help, ask questions, and get answers. It is best to be armed with knowledge and to understand your options.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 19 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Fertility Discussion with Tarrant County Moms. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.
Dr. Rebecca Chilvers, with Fertility Specialists of Texas, is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. She received her undergraduate degree at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and medical degree at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. She completed her residency and sub-specialty training at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where she also earned a Master of Medical Science degree. She was recently voted a “Best Doctor in Collin County” in D Magazine by her colleagues and has repeatedly been recognized as a Mom-Approved Doctor by the readers of DallasChild magazine.
Dr. Chilvers sees patients in the Frisco and Grapevine offices and will begin seeing patients in the soon-to-open Southlake office early this summer. She lives in Frisco with her husband and two children, Natalie and Aaron.