Will I Get Pregnant Right Away This Time, Too?

by Ann Douglas

We don't have to worry about getting pregnant.
This is our second pregnancy.

Mother Nature doesn't operate a reproductive frequent flyers program that guarantees you a seat on the next flight to Planet Pregnancy, just because you've been pregnant before. If she did, there would be about one-third fewer couples seeking treatment for infertility at any given time.


Secondary infertility—defined as the inability to conceive again when you've been pregnant in the past (either with the same partner or a new partner)—can leave you feeling like you're stuck in a reproductive no man (or no woman's) land, stuck between the worlds of the fertile and the infertile. What adds to that sense of reproductive limbo is the fact that your diagnosis is more likely to be gray zone than black and white, notes James Goldfarb, MD, Director of Fertility Services at the Cleveland Clinic. "With primary infertility, we're more likely to find an absolute problem. With secondary infertility, that's less often the case."

Your doctor will do some reproductive detective work to try to figure out what may have changed since your earlier pregnancy, zeroing in on such factors as maternal weight gain (which boosts your odds of experiencing infertility by as much as 70 percent), smoking (responsible for up to 13 percent of cases of female infertility), ovulation problems (responsible for 25 percent of all female infertility problems), and problems with the male partner (a sole or contributing cause for 40 percent of couples). 

The good news, according to Goldfarb, is that secondary infertility is often less difficult to treat—provided, of course, that the reproductive clock hasn't been ticking too long in the interim. "If a couple took longer than average to conceive the first time around, they might not have considered the fact that there might have been something little going on. But if they're now a lot older, that 'something little' may be a much bigger factor." His advice? If in doubt, seek treatment sooner rather than later.

Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books and numerous other books about pregnancy and parenting.