Sterility is the inability to conceive whereas infertility is the inability to carry a pregnancy to term with the birth of a healthy child. The difference is not just conceptual as the studies which aim to understand the causes, treatments and solutions are completely different. It is not the same treating a couple who can not conceive as a couple who conceive regularly without difficulty but who sadly can not develop an evolutive pregnancy.
Although traditionally we referred to infertility when there were three or more miscarriages, due to the great emotional pain involved in losing a wanted pregnancy, currently we recommend a fertility study after just two miscarriages.
As in the case of sterility if there is a history of problems related to reproduction, the couple should not wait to seek medical help.
- Primary infertility: Infertility without any previous pregnancy.
- Secondary infertility: Fertility problems occurring in a couple that has conceived on their own and had a child in the past.
- Sterility: When there is no chance for a pregnancy. This is different from infertility which generally represents a reduced potential for pregnancy.
Most childless couples with a female age under about 43 that are having problems getting pregnant are considered to be infertile but not sterile.