When Infertility Strikes After You Are a Mom

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Summary & Participants

Affecting over three million American women, difficulty becoming pregnant after having a child can come as a surprise. This so-called secondary infertility can be devastating, but there are treatments to help you add to your family.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2009

Webcast Transcript

TRACEY: My first pregnancy wasn't a planned pregnancy. It happened without even trying. It was a very uneventful pregnancy, to say the least.

ANNOUNCER: Once you have a child, there should be no problem having more, or so one would hope. But for about three million American women, like Tracey, another pregnancy can be difficult.

TRACEY: We knew that we wanted to have another child, my husband and I. And I ended up getting pregnant in January of 2004. But, from the time that we found out, which was in the early evening that day, things went horribly wrong,

ANNOUNCER: Because the pregnancy implanted in her Fallopian tube, instead of the uterus, Tracey needed to have both her Fallopian tube and the pregnancy removed. While it would save her life, the surgery would leave Tracey infertile.

TRACEY: To discover that there was major damage and to be told, only a couple hours after surgery, that I probably wouldn't be able to have kids, unless we sought intervention at that point, was devastating.

ANNOUNCER: So-called secondary infertility is fairly common, and while Tracey knew the cause of her infertility, in most cases it is not always apparent.

FREDERICK, LICCIARDI, MD: Most people who have a child and then can't get pregnant the second time probably suffer from unexplained infertility. That means everything is working just fine, the tubes are normal, the uterus is normal, the sperm is fine, there's ovulation, but it's just not happening for some reason.

ANNOUNCER: Most often, the ultimate cause of secondary infertility comes down to age.

FREDERICK LICCIARDI, MD: A lot of people are surprised. They say to me, "Listen, I'm healthy. I eat the right things. I don't smoke. I feel young. And just because I'm 43, does that mean it's going to be hard for me to get pregnant?" And the answer is yes. It's going to be very difficult.

ANNOUNCER: For Tracey, and for many other women, IVF, or in-vitro fertilization, becomes the best hope for getting pregnant. With IVF, a doctor uses eggs from the woman and sperm from the man to create embryos outside of the body. Later, these embryos can be implanted into the women to develop.

FREDERICK LICCIARDI, MD: Some women, after hearing what their odds are with each of the treatments would just prefer prefer to go to in vitro, because they do know that the odds are higher.

ANNOUNCER: Other treatments would include artificial insemination and hormone therapy, but no matter what treatment you choose, the best advice is to not wait too long to seek care.

FREDERICK LICCIARDI, MD: As a woman waits, she gets older, and the older she gets, then the harder it is for her to become pregnant.

ANNOUNCER: For Tracey and her husband, finding a specialist soon after discovering her infertility was key. Their first son, Thomas, now has two little brothers, Daniel and Andrew, to complete their family.

TRACEY: It's been crazy in my life having the two for these six months, but it's been very joyful.