Getting Pregnant With Secondary Infertility

Infertility is not limited to those trying to conceive for the first time. Some couples realize that getting pregnant again is near impossible. This phenomenon is called secondary infertility, or the inability to conceive after having at least 1 child. Secondary infertility can feel confusing and overwhelming, but there are solutions. Most couples turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART), like in vitro fertilization (IVF), but the procedure doesn’t always work. For couples who still desire another baby, traditional or gestational surrogacy can help.


Moving forward with surrogacy

Couples experiencing secondary infertility can try for months or even years without success. This delay is what can make procedures like IVF even more difficult. In addition, there is often a severe fertility challenge, like primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), endometriosis, or low sperm count. As a last resort, the fertility clinic will often suggest surrogacy. Surrogacy is when a healthy, reproductively viable woman carries the child for an infertile individual or couple. The surrogate process has existed for decades but can now be broken into traditional and gestational surrogacy.

Attempt traditional surrogacy

In the past, most surrogate candidates and recipients took the traditional route. With traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides natural eggs, and the womb for pregnancy, and the intended parents only provide a healthy sperm sample. Therefore, the surrogate is the biological mother of the child. The surrogate also remains the child’s legal mother until a written agreement is completed. Traditional surrogacy relies on intrauterine insemination (IUI), where the doctor inserts the sperm sample via a catheter. If successful, the surrogate then carries the baby to term.

What is gestational surrogacy?

Nowadays, many couples choose a gestational surrogate. In this case, the surrogate only provides the womb for pregnancy. This option uses the power of ART to create an embryo using eggs and sperm from the intended parents. Sometimes, the parents may choose donor sperm or eggs from another individual. The best embryo is transferred to the gestational surrogate’s uterus, and if all goes according to plan, the baby arrives 9 months later.

Understanding the differences

Both traditional and gestational surrogacy can increase the chances of pregnancy. Fertility clinics or surrogacy agencies strive to cover all medical, psychological, and legal challenges. However, there are specific differences patients must understand. With traditional surrogacy, since the surrogate uses IUI, there is a biological link to the child. With gestational surrogacy, there are no biological ties. Gestational surrogacy is often more expensive than traditional surrogacy, as the surrogate must undergo IVF to get pregnant. However, gestational surrogacy is typically more successful than traditional surrogacy. There is more control over the quality of the embryo, and multiple cycles are possible if necessary.

Which approach is best?

A surrogate can provide support if the individual or couple can no longer conceive, and both procedures are effective for secondary infertility. Choosing the best option will depend on the couple’s preference and overall reproductive health. Traditional surrogacy is an excellent alternative to adoption, as the sperm used still provides a biological tie to the family. This option also works if the couple has a surrogate in mind, like a friend or family member. If the couple still has viable eggs and sperm or stored embryos, gestational surrogacy can help the family have a biological child. A fertility clinic can assess the potential parents and help decide based on factors like health, cost, and available surrogates.

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