Secondary Infertility

Next week, one of our Continuing Excellence in Fertility Professionals (CEFP) members will be co-leading an educational call with me on secondary infertility. There arises a whole host of confusing body-mind issues when there is difficulty after one already has one or more children. Wikepedia defines secondary infertility as difficulty conceiving after already having conceived (and either carried the pregnancy to term or had a miscarriage). Secondary infertility is not present if there has been a change of partners (this follows tautologically from the convention of speaking of couples, rather than individuals, as being infertile; if there is a change of partners, then a new couple is created, with its own chances to be infertile.)

I can’t help but snicker at the last comment, “with its own chances to be infertile.” The conventional medical approach always focuses on what can possibly go wrong. Unfortunately, the more one focuses on what can go wrong, the more likely it will manifest. But I digress.

I suffered from “secondary” issues. I had no trouble conceiving my daughter. Once you have experienced the miracle of giving birth to a child, it brings up an added element of frustration – why can’t I do what came so easily before? Now you compound that with a hefty dose of guilt for wanting more of what you already have, and you become an energetic mess inside.

After you give birth to a child, your entire physiology can change. Energetically you might become deficient in blood or essence. Your spirit energies might be scattered. Your qi may become depleted. Your body may become more reactive, and reject another pregnancy. Your relationship with your partner may have changed. You may feel more strain in your life with less support. The demands of motherhood change you at every level. If you “try” from a deficient energetic starting point, it will be more difficult. When you add the guilt and frustration to the equation, the pattern of imbalance can consist of deficient blood, and stagnated qi, not allowing access to the already deficient reproductive essence.

When we view the individual presentation through the lens of TCM, we address the pattern, deal with the stagnated qi brought about by the conflicted emotions, and open up to life again.

Every pregnancy is different. You are a different person with every pregnancy. In fact, you change with every menstrual cycle. Certain patterns repeat themselves, especially the more you have habituated yourself in these imbalanced patterns of expression.

The good news is, when these patterns are identified and corrected, fertility can open up again. I’d like to make a new definition of secondary infertility that includes a deeper ability to pay attention to how life is affecting an individual, right now, that may be different than in the past. It actually provides us with an opportunity to become more fertile than ever before.