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And Here’s What You Need To Know About It.

If you’ve been pregnant and given birth before with relative ease but are struggling to conceive the second time around, you may be experiencing a condition called secondary infertility. Medical experts define secondary infertility as a couple who have been actively trying to have a baby without success for over 12 months.

So why is it that for some of us things will be considerably difficult or near impossible the second time around? Dr James Hopkisson, Medical Director at the TFP Fertility Group   offers the following explanation. “Secondary infertility is thought to be as common as primary infertility”, he says. “One in seven to one in eight couples will need to see a doctor about secondary infertility. There are many causes of secondary subfertility which become apparent when investigating a delay. Some instances include male factor infertility such as impaired sperm production, and female factors such as anovulation and tubal disease. As women get older the chances of conception also decrease, so individuals do need to be mindful as to when to start trying to conceive again.”

So, let’s take a look at some of these common causes in closer detail.

Anovulation and tubal disease

Anovulation refers to when your egg doesn’t release during your menstrual cycle and its one of the leading causes of infertility in women. It’s believed to be caused by hormonal interruptions and the leading sign of it is when you miss a period. Anovulation problems can be treated with medication and by implementing lifestyle changes. Tubal disease is a disorder where blocked or damaged fallopian tubes prevents the egg from travelling from the ovary to the uterus causing infertility. Common causes of tubal disease include endometriosis, or infection or damage to the fallopian tube as a result of surgery. Another medical issue that hinders the chance of becoming pregnant is fibroids. Uterine fibroids are growths that form and surround the uterus and they can be minute in size or larger than an orange. Fibroids have been known to minimise the flow of sperm, block the fallopian tubes, or make it difficult for the blood to flow to the uterus rendering it difficult for embryos to become implanted on the uterus walls to create a viable pregnancy.

Impaired sperm production

If you as a couple are finding it a challenge to get pregnant naturally it’s always worth remembering that the issue doesn’t always come from female reproductive organs. Sometimes the sperm production is impaired, and the quality or quantity of the sperm produced is not being robust enough to fertilise the egg. The good news is that these issues can usually be rectified by making dietary and lifestyle changes. Men are urged to reduce their alcohol intake and stop smoking – just two of the factors that can reduce sperm count. It’s also believed that certain medications can interfere with healthy sperm production so men should definitely discuss this with their GP should they decide to start the process of investigation when trying to conceive. Also, your significant other will probably be delighted to learn that experts now state that having lots and lots of sex increases your chance of getting pregnant as explained by HRH Dr Nauf AlBendar, founder of The Womb Effect and a medical scientist who specialises in men and women’s fertility. She says, “While men have previously been advised to have less sex to increase the chances of pregnancy, the opposite is true. For healthier sperm, there needs to be frequent sex around the ovulation period. This could make all the difference in starting a family. Research has found that semen produced within 1-3 hours of a man’s most recent ejaculation were faster and more mobile than those produced by men who abstained for several days. It has also been shown that the increase in sexual activity even in non-fertile days may cause a woman’s body to promote types of immunity that support conception.”

Emotional blocks

While we often look for physical issues when it comes to identifying challenges associated with conception, we often overlook the fact that there may be psychological blocks that play a part too, especially if a woman’s experience of pregnancy and childbirth the first time round has been particularly difficult. HRH Dr Nauf AlBendar, says, “According to research, many cases of infertility are rooted in emotional problems. There are several subconscious blocks such as negative feelings towards pregnancy, birth or motherhood/fatherhood that can impede fertility. Past abuse or trauma can also wreak havoc with one’s emotional well-being thus impacting fertility. It is important to talk to a professional or have access to a clinical hypnotherapist that can help.”

Age related egg fertility decline

Data on fertility in relation to a woman’s age is always changing, but within the medical profession it’s still believed that a woman’s fertility declines rapidly from the age 35. With this in mind, age must be considered if you had your first child before the age 35 and are trying for baby number two at an older age. “The definition of secondary infertility is when a woman has already had a child at an earlier stage, but the second pregnancy is, despite unprotected sexual intercourse, at least a year later” explains Dr. Niels van de Roemer, Medical Director at Daysy, the fertility tracking app. “In the mid-30s and 40s, the probability of pregnancy decreases every year. Thus, the age difference alone between the conception of the first child and the second child may play a role.”

Tips from Dr. Niels van de Roemer on how to increase our chance of conceiving a second child

If you smoke, it is recommended that you take advantage of this opportunity to quit smoking and any excessive consumption of alcohol. It has been proven that smoking is not only harmful for your baby, but also reduces female fertility. Statistically speaking, it takes twice as long for women who smoke to have children.

It makes sense to eat a healthy and balanced diet even before pregnancy to provide yourself and especially your baby with all the nutrients you need. Furthermore, pregnant women, but also women who want to conceive, are advised to take certain dietary supplements. Experts recommend folic acid and vitamin D, for example.

Keep yourself fit. Exercise creates a feeling of well-being, and this has a positive effect on your hormone balance. But don’t overdo it with sports! Competitive sports with permanent physical stress can postpone or even suppress ovulation and reduce fertility.

To become pregnant, women should have unprotected intercourse on the day of ovulation and the five days prior. Sperm can survive in the female body for a maximum of five days (but usually for a fewer number of days), so couples should plan intercourse shortly before and on the day of ovulation to significantly increase the chances of getting pregnant. A scientific study has shown that 81% of the women who had tracked their cycle and planned sexual intercourse accordingly were pregnant within six months.

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