WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “STERILITY” AND “INFERTILITY”?
When a couple is having trouble becoming pregnant, a fertility specialist may perform tests to see if either one of the individuals struggle with sterility or infertility.
When a couple is having trouble becoming pregnant, a fertility specialist may perform tests to see if either one of the individuals struggle with sterility or infertility. While these terms are often used synonymously, sterility and infertility are two different conditions, and are treated differently.
The difference between sterility and infertility is as follows: sterility is an inability to conceive a child. Infertility is the reduced or lack of ability to conceive and carry a child, whether it be temporary or permanent. Both sterility and infertility have a primary and secondary component.
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 two to three years.
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.
Finding reproductive specialists like the ones at Oregon Reproductive medicine can help a couple navigate through the process of evaluating and addressing the possible causes and solutions to sterility or infertility. The first step is testing the couple to determine the root cause of the problems they may be having.
Tests for Infertility
Because infertility can affect both males and females, the first step is finding the possible causes of the infertility through one or more tests.
Female Fertility Testing
For diagnosing females, specialists at a reproductive medicine clinic such as Oregon Reproductive Medicine will begin a series of hormone testing and evaluation. They will confirm that ovulation is occurring regularly, and they will test and measure the thickness of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormones).
An additional examination evaluates the health and condition of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding environments to determine if there is anything abnormal, or if there may be a blockage.
Additionally, fertility testing can also see whether the cervical mucous has the correct consistency to effectively carry sperm to the uterus.
Male Fertility Testing
Male factor infertility may be the cause in 40-50% of all infertility cases. In fact, according to the CDC, approximately 7.5% of all men younger than 45 who are sexually active have reported seeing a fertility specialist at some point in their lives. Of those, about 18% were diagnosed with some form of male factor infertility.
Male infertility factors can include problems with sperm production, hormone imbalances, or other conditions.
Fertility tests for the male will include a semen analysis, which will check sperm production, mobility (the ability for sperm to swim or move around), and the size and shape of the sperm.
Moving Past Infertility
There are many successful ways that infertility and sterility can be addressed. Each patient is different, and the dedicated specialists at Oregon Reproductive Medicine will tailor your infertility or sterility treatments to suit your best-case scenario for having a healthy baby. You can find out more about fertility or sterility testing at a free informational seminar, where doctors from Oregon Reproductive Medicine answer all your questions and discuss the promising treatments now available.
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