The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Infertility

 In Blog, Coping with Infertility, Fertility Health, News and Press, Stress and Infertility

Even though the causes and treatments of primary and secondary infertility are nearly the same, the circumstances and emotions felt can be very different from each other. Primary infertility refers to couples who have not been able to become pregnant after twelve months of having sex without using any form of birth control. This includes couples who have not successfully had a baby, which differs from secondary infertility. Secondary infertility applies to couples who have been able to have a child or children in the past but are now unable to conceive. Both primary and secondary infertility can be caused by the same factors, including:

  • Age
  • Reproductive Damage or Abnormalities
  • Sperm Quality and Quantity
  • Lifestyle factors such as weight loss/gain or smoking

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with primary or secondary infertility, it is important to remember that you are not alone when going through these infertility issues. Infertility at any level is not uncommon and there are ways to cope while you undergo different treatments.

Coping with Primary or Secondary Infertility

Coping with either primary or secondary infertility may take some work, but there are things you can do to still maintain a healthy life and well-being. Going through infertility issues and treatments can feel like it’s taking up all of your time, which is why it’s so important to keep doing the things you’ve always enjoyed doing. If you’ve decided that In Virto Fertilization (IVF) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is the best option for you, try setting small goals for yourself and your partner rather than focusing so much on your ultimate goal: getting pregnant. Instead, reward yourself with short-term goals like going to get a massage after your treatment, finishing a book you’ve started, or hiking up that trail you’ve been meaning to explore. It’s good to remain optimistic of the results of your treatments but in the meantime, it’s a great idea to make yourself feel good about the things you have control over.

Young couple leaning on each out while being outsideAddressing Primary or Secondary Infertility Socially

If certain situations are too emotionally painful for you, give yourself permission to skip these get-togethers. It is completely okay to consider your mental and emotional state during these times but if guilt is eating away at you, send a gift basket and a card thanking them for the invite. Acknowledging your absence will help your friend or family member understand that you wanted to be there, even though you couldn’t be.

Even if you’re comfortable going to family functions while you undergo your infertility treatments, you’re inevitably going to get questions about when you’re going to have a baby or if you plan on giving your current child a sibling.  These questions may seem thoughtless, but friends and family typically mean well when they ask about your plans for parenthood. If they don’t know about your fertility problems, they are probably just being curious rather than insensitive. If they do know, they probably want to know how things are going or they’re not sure how to articulate their thoughts on the sensitive topic.

However, if talking about your infertility issues  is something you’re comfortable doing, then it can be both therapeutic and healthy speaking about it! If you’re always putting on a brave face, others may not understand what you’re going through, which can make you feel even more alone. You may be surprised to find out that talking about what you’re going through can be a huge relief.

Addressing Primary or Secondary Infertility Emotionally

Both primary and secondary infertility can be hard on a marriage or relationship, but both you and your partner must remember that infertility doesn’t define you or your relationship. Working together as a team and facing your challenge together, head-on will only make your bond stronger. You may not handle situations in the same way as your partner, but finding ways to show your support for one another is invaluable. Work together to find practical ways to share the process.

If you’re diagnosed with primary or secondary infertility, you may have more question. Each family has a unique circumstance and the staff at Red Rock Fertility Center is fully prepared to discuss the options that fit your family’s needs.

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