Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Getting Pregnant....again

Are you struggling to conceive this time around? Time and time again our Fit 4 Two alumni tell us how although they got pregnant quickly the first time, it just doesn’t seem to happen as easily the second time around.

I am NOT a fertility expert so can only share my own personal experience.  With our first child I became pregnant the first cycle.  I was 29 years-old.  With our second, 2 years later, it took 6 cycles.  While I realize that 6 cycles is normal, it did not feel normal to me at the time.  So why do I think it took longer the second time?  I have always attributed it to the stress and fatigue of being new parents.

Craving a more scientific answer I decided to interview Dr. Ken Seethram, MD, FRCSC, FACOG from the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine(PCRM) and Dr. Spence Pentland Dr. TCM FABORM from Yinstill Reproductive Wellness. While one is a western medical doctor and the other is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, their responses were complimentary.  In fact after further investigation, I found out that they sometimes work together.

MO: How common is it for couples who conceived very quickly the first time, to take longer when trying to conceive again?
KS: It’s not uncommon.  Often by the time couples are ready for a second child, the influence of a woman’s age starts to negatively affect her ability to conceive.  The age related impact of fertility is often underestimated.
SP: In my experience very common.

MO: What are some of the common, non-medical cases?
KS: There are none really – healthy eating, exercise, and well-being are all critical to us, but stress is not thought to play a role in conception.  Fertility rates in times of severe crisis (like war affected countries) do not change.
SP:  Having a child can also drastically affect libido, as well as reduce the opportunities to have sex.  Lastly, taking care of oneself is vital to conception and having a healthy pregnancy, and every mom knows how they tend to put themselves last when it comes to nurturing and well-being.

MO: What are some of the common medical causes?
KS: There are basically three areas – ovarian function problems (inability to regularly make a fertilizable egg), tubal disorders, and male factor infertility.  Sometimes, low functional sperm that worked in the past with more easily fertilizable eggs, might have a harder time as a woman ages – so having had a child previously, doesn’t rule out male factor problems.  There are other disorders like thyroid dysfunction that can cause infertility, as well as some medications.
SP: The most common medical cause of having difficulties conceiving is advanced maternal age, or diminished ovarian reserve. this is a socio-economic condition created by today's world.  Couples are simply waiting longer to conceive.  In the case of it being a second child, as mentioned above, the eggs and sperm are just that much older.  Other common causes are Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, Male Factor Infertility, and recurrent pregnancy loss.

MO: When should a couple seek out extra help from a reproductive health professional?
KS: We generally believe that (in the absence of an obvious cause) a woman under 35 who has been trying to conceive for 12 months, and is not successful, should seek the advice of a fertility specialist.  Over 35, we suggest 6 months, and 40, we suggest 3 months – as treatment success rates drop over time.
SP: Any couple that feels they could improve upon their health before conceiving a child should educate themselves and implement proactive changes to their lives.  Complimentary and alternative healthcare professionals that are known to help optimize reproductive health, such as Doctors of traditional Chinese medicine, are a great resource for couples not only wishing to get pregnant, but to have a healthy child.  Otherwise, seek the attention of a medical doctor if you feel anything may be wrong with your reproductive health.  Bottom line; don't wait.

What I found most interesting was that fertility rates do not change in times of severe crisis.  What I found most comforting was that I was  not alone in my lack of energy and libido when trying for baby number two.  I really appreciated the age-based breakdown for when to seek reproductive help as well.  If you have more questions about fertility, please contact the PCRM or Dr. Spence Pentland

What is/was your experience TTC the second or third time?


  1. Thanks for posting this. I struggled with secondary infertility for over three years, and was sadly never able to conceive. I tried everything -- Chinese medicine, homeopathics, fertility treatments, etc. etc. -- and am now working through grief and loss around the fact that I won't ever have the second child that my spouse and I so wanted. What I discovered during my own personal journey is that secondary infertility is much more common than people realize. It's just something that's not talked about. It's hard for women to get support in the infertility community, because "at least we've had one." And yet in the motherhood community, our pain and struggle remains invisible as people make assumptions all the time that we simply wanted "just one." For women currently struggling to conceive a second (or subsequent) time, I highly recommend Tracy McKay's memoir, Making Meant To Be.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I must admit to being guilty of saying the wrong thing for years before realizing the implications of my ignorance. I hope that we can spread an awareness so that we can all learn to be more sensitive to what others may be going through.

  3. So glad to read this... thank you. I'm 43 and we have been trying for our 2nd for 2.5 years. We have changed our diet, started supplements recommended by our chinese medicine doctor, we have tried acupuncture and even NIS a system based on touch and the neurological system. All the professionals we have worked with have had great results but still we have had no luck. I initially said my cut off age was 43 but now 6 months into that year I'm not entirely ready to give up. How frustrating though. Glad to hear it's common and i think especially in Vancouver where the cost of living is so high, many of us put off having families. I got pregnant the in 6 months first time at the age of 39 and kind of assumed it would be easy a second time around. I wish I'd seen this earlier as it suggests seeing a professional after 3 months of no conception. Oh well, I'm starting to feel like its time to accept its not likely to happen and just move on. Thanks again for sharing this information.


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