First of all, the terms ‘ infertility’ and ‘sterility’ should be defined, since they are often confused with one another and used interchangeably. Consequently, you will be able to know if your problem is one or the other and address it accordingly.
- Sterility is when a couple has not been able to conceive after having had unprotected intercourse for a year.
- Infertility is when a couple manages to conceive, but is unable to carry the pregnancy long enough to deliver a baby.
Both can be divided into primary and secondary, where primary refers to when in no case the delivery of a baby has been possible, whereas secondary to when the couple already has a child and the conditions appeared at a later stage.
Consequently, the following classification is obtained:
- Primary sterility: when a couple has not been able to conceive after having had unprotected intercourse for a year.
- Secondary sterility: when, after having had a first child, a couple has not managed to achieve a second pregnancy after having had unprotected intercourse for a year.
- Primary infertility: when a woman becomes pregnant but is unable to carry the pregnancy long enough to deliver a baby.
- Secondary infertility: when a couple, after a first pregnancy and labor, is unable to carry the pregnancy long enough to deliver a baby.
The sterility-infertility condition affects 15-20% of couples. Although it is not a disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined involuntary infertility as an illness, and hence couples suffering this problem are granted the right to be treated.
In 85% of cases the causes can be diagnosed after an appropriate study of the couple, enabling them to receive the most suitable treatment to solve it. For the remaining 15%, referred to as infertility due to unknown causes, it is also possible to successfully apply different treatments.