23-29 September 2019

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Secondary infertility – wanting another child

Although the word ‘infertility’ is often associated with those who are childless, secondary infertility is as prevalent as primary infertility. The lack of mainstream recognition of secondary infertility may be a reason for a lack of sympathy and understanding towards it.  People experiencing infertility at any stage of their lives may feel frustrated by a lack of control. For those with secondary infertility, these feelings may be exacerbated if their first child was conceived easily. They may experience shock – particularly as they have ‘proven’ their fertility with a first child. The family that was always dreamed of; and the children who were always planned for; may seem like they are suddenly slipping out of reach.

Some people experiencing secondary infertility may attempt to search for reason, to identify a cause for their misfortune. Self-blame is not uncommon, particularly in women. This may take the form of regretting that babies had not been tried for earlier in life; or even feeling like another child has been denied because they have not been good enough parents.

Women and men often exhibit different emotional responses to secondary infertility and these differences in experience may create tension in the relationship. Conversely, the shared experience and interdependency can bring a couple closer together.

Anger and resentment can also be felt, particularly when faced with families with more than one child or pregnant women. Social expectations, whether real or perceived, may create additional stress for those experiencing difficulty conceiving their second child. Frequent reminders of a personal loss of fertility may be through peers falling pregnant with second or third children, upgrading to larger vehicles and using double buggies. Conversations within social circles may again be centered around babies, breastfeeding and childbirth.