Planning for parenthood 2.0 (or 3.0, or beyond) is filled with hope, expectation and dreams of rounding off your family nicely.
Thoughts of newborn smells, first smiles and siblings bonding float through your mind and quickly fill you with enthusiasm and butterflies of hopeful expectation.
But the sad reality is that for many couples, falling pregnant the second or third time around isn’t always a walk in the park, even if they did conceive quickly the first time around.
In the medical world, we call this condition secondary infertility and we estimate that around 15-20 per cent of Australian couples are affected (based on anecdotal reports by fertility experts of couples seeking help). We see it occurring more frequently in women who are older, but it does occasionally happen to younger women, too.
No matter what your age, or how many children you already have, if you dream of expanding your family and it’s not happening for you, it can naturally lead to stress, frustration, anxiety and depression.
None of this is ideal, so medically, we do our best to look at the possible causes and address them naturally and holistically.
Can you treat secondary infertility?
Firstly, seek medical advice.
All forms of infertility are upsetting. If you are having trouble conceiving another child after 12 months of trying, I suggest you seek consultation with a medical fertility specialist (make that six months if you or your partner are over the age of 35).
The specialist can test for any potential physical causes, which might include impaired sperm production and function in men and fallopian tube damage, ovulation disorders, endometriosis and uterine conditions in women.
Couples can also incorporate an array of lifestyle tweaks that will enhance reproductive health, boost fertility fitness and improve their chances of becoming parents.
We unpacked the facts and figures on infertility below. Post continues after video.
How to increase your chances of conceiving
1. Start trying at a younger age
Women have a finite number of eggs and with each passing year, this number declines. The depletion is accelerated after the age of 35 until menopause, when the pool of eggs (also known as the ‘ovarian store’) is exhausted.
Obviously, this means that if you’re a bit older, you may experience some challenges falling pregnant naturally. However, there are ways to improve your chances.
Firstly, I’d suggest getting to know your menstrual cycle and keeping a track of when you’re ovulating. There are four ways you can do this, which I outline in point five below.
On top of this, you can improve your health as well as your chances of conceiving by maintaining a healthy body weight, getting plenty of quality sleep, eating a healthy diet that’s high in antioxidants, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol and drug intake and enjoying regular exercise.
Contrary to popular belief, the age of the father also matters. Statistics indicate that if a man is under 25 and all is well with the female, then it should on average take four and a half months for the couple to fall pregnant. This time frame jumps to almost two years if he’s over 40. If he’s over 45, it can be up to five times that of a healthy 25 year old.