The infertility and loss community has a wealth of resources. Last year I was honored to be featured on Heather Huhman’s podcast Beat Infertility. This podcast shares stories from the community at wide.
Heather also includes guest podcasts from experts in the field such as a Reproductive Endocrinologist and a Mental Health Professional. I frequently listen to Beat Infertility, and being a mental health counselor myself, I especially enjoy these guest podcasts.
I recently listed to an episode where Dr. Allison Rodgers, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at the Fertility Centers of Illinois spoke about secondary infertility. This particular sub-set of infertility is one that is near and dear to my heart, as it is what I primarily experienced. I say primarily because I didn’t always feel like I fit into that category.
According to the RESOLVE (The National Infertility Association) website, secondary infertility is defined as “the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. The birth of the first child does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications.”
RESOLVE defines primary infertility as “the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive.”
I was climbing stairs at the gym while listening to the secondary infertility episode. I have to be honest that I was only half listening because I already knew more than I cared to about this subject. Or did I?
Dr. Rodger’s defined secondary infertility as “Anybody who has had a pregnancy before, even if that pregnancy was a miscarriage or you needed fertility treatment…If you’ve been pregnant before and you’re trying to get pregnant again…Anybody who has had any kind of pregnancy.”
My jaw dropped and I nearly tripped on the stairs.
Fortunately Heather said and asked exactly what I was thinking.
“Your definition of secondary infertility was not what I was expecting you to say. So would I have been considered to have secondary infertility?”
Heather has been through the unimaginable. She lost her twins in her second trimester, and from what I can recall, she had more losses and multiple failed IVF attempts. She went through the wringer.
But she supposedly had secondary infertility because she had been pregnant?
I felt enough guilt about the 11 months it took to have my first child, which did not involve any losses. I felt guilty while desperately trying to fulfill my dream of completing my family because I already had a child.
To think that those who have had a miscarriage of any type, and multiple losses at that, would fit into the same category as I supposedly fit into, was unthinkable.
Let me be clear. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Dr. Rodgers. I have listened to most of the podcasts that she has been featured on, and almost everything she says is precisely what I was told by my own highly respected Reproductive Endocrinologist, or I learned about through other resources. She has even experienced secondary infertility herself.
However, this was the first time I had ever heard secondary infertility defined in this way, and I was confused.
Just as there is always more than one side to a story, is there more than one definition of secondary infertility?