5 Ways to Cope With Secondary Infertility

Struggling to get pregnant for a second time after having an easy time conceiving your first baby is painful and confusing. Mighty Mommy has 5 tips to help cope when battling secondary infertility.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #233

5 Ways to Cope With Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility refers to a couple's inability to conceive a baby after having unprotected intercourse for at least a year, even though they've had at least one child in the past, either together or with a previous partner. Couples who have had a previous pregnancy often think of themselves as having "normal" fertility, but this isn't always the case.  

This scenario can be particularly frustrating for couples who had no trouble conceiving the first time around. It gets even worse as they watch friends and family members effortlessly having second or third babies. Couples facing secondary infertility usually experience some unique emotional turmoil, such as shame, anxiety, depression, and even guilt for wanting a second child so badly when there are so many couples experiencing infertility the first time around. A sense of loss is often felt about “what could have been” if they were able to add another sibling to their family unit like they had planned.


Although Mighty Mommy never suffered from secondary infertility, I did struggle with primary infertility for 6 years before we adopted our first child. Ironically enough, I then went on to deliver 7 biological babies, so I can definitely relate to the physical and emotional roller coaster ride of fertility treatment and heartache. It is definitely one of the most trying times a couple will ever face. 

Today I have 5 coping strategies for couples dealing with the pain of secondary infertility:

Tip #1: See Your Doctor or a Fertility Specialist

If you feel you’ve waited long enough and are anxiety-ridden about conceiving another child, don’t wait any longer—schedule an appointment with your Ob/Gyn to discuss your concerns.   The key is being able to address this situation with a doctor you are comfortable with and who isn’t going to make light of this. There are basic medical screening tests that can be done that are not invasive and could be a tremendous help in diagnosing something simple like an ovulation issue. If the doctor feels more tests are warranted, at least now you’ve got the ball rolling and will hopefully get some answers rather than waiting it out each month.

Tip #2: Stop Living in Two-Week Increments

I know this is a basic one but it’s so common it deserves special mention. When you're trying to conceive, your life can easily fall into two-week increments: the two weeks you wait for ovulation, followed by the two weeks you wait to take a pregnancy test. The worst part about this is there are no breaks; there's no anxiety-free time. Either you're anxious about ovulating or anxious to find out if you’re finally pregnant.

Although I’m now blessed with 8 beautiful children, I can remember that awful waiting. I, too, lived my life in two-week increments based on ovulation, having sex (if that’s what we could call it), and then the intense two-week waiting game would begin again as we wondered if I’d see that plus sign on one of the hundreds of pregnancy test sticks I purchased over that six-year time period.  

If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t have wasted so much precious time worrying about what was going to happen based on my cycle every month. This is no way to live! Of course you can’t be expected not to experience stress and low moments while trying to get pregnant again, but try to find some simple ways to live in the moment while you’re on this journey. Hug your first child a little tighter, steal some alone time with your partner to catch a movie, dive into a hobby to divert your attention, and don’t forget to take care of yourself with exercise, getting enough sleep, and healthy eating.  Even if you spend a small portion of each day not thinking about ovulation or pregnancy, you will be doing yourself and your family a big favor.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.