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Secondary Infertility Becoming More Common

BOSTON (CBS) - The anguish of infertility can be heartbreaking for a couple. There is another side of this problem that's getting worse. It's known as secondary infertility. More couples are finding their dreams of having a second child are not coming true.

You can see it in Amy Wruble's eyes when she is around her daughter Viv. She loves being a mother. "Being a mom is everything I ever dreamed of, and more." After having Viv, both she and her husband thought they would be able to have another baby. "Yet it has been much tougher this time," added Wruble.

It is estimated about three million women in the United States are like Amy. They either cannot get pregnant or carry a baby to term successfully despite having done so once. Secondary infertility is becoming more common.

Wruble said this is a difficult situation to deal with emotionally. "One of the unique challenges of secondary infertility is that you have a child so you are socializing with families, young families that are building their families, having more children," explained Wruble. "But I am deep down inside, jealous and frustrated, you know why not me? Why is it easy for them and so hard for me?"

Wruble shared her struggles in a very public way, on her blog "Carriage before Marriage".

Dr. Joseph Hill of the Fertility Centers of New England believes secondary infertility doesn't get discussed enough, despite an increase the number of cases involving secondary infertility over the last 20 years.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh you have a baby, you should be fine.' No, the incidence of pathological depression is significant in someone with secondary infertility, just like it is in someone with recurrent pregnancy loss," explained Dr. Hill.

The increase in these cases does in part have to with the fact women are waiting longer to have kids, but that's just part of it. Problems can be traced to a women's first delivery, according to Dr. Hill. "If there was a prolonged labor . . . even a silent infection . . . C-sections may be more likely to cause superficial adhesions that could distort anatomically the relationship of the fallopian tubes to the ovaries."

Lifestyle habits also add wear and tear over time, and reduce fertility rates. "Such as obesity, smoking, alcohol, nutritional status in general," added Dr. Hill.

So when should a woman seek medical help? Dr. Hill says if a woman is over 35 and isn't pregnant after six months of trying, it is time to schedule an appointment.

About 20% of the patients who come to the Fertility Centers of New England now do so because of issues with secondary infertility.

Amy is now in her early 40s and feels blessed she has Viv in her life. But that doesn't stop her longing for more children. "It's just that I loved having her, and raising her thru babyhood so much, why wouldn't I want to do it again? I do. I want to do it again."


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