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While sometimes the terms are used synonymously, sterility and infertility are two different conditions.
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.
In short, sterility is the inability to conceive a child. Infertility is a reduced or lack of ability to conceive and carry a child, whether it be for temporary or permanent reasons. Neither term implies a change in one’s ability or desire to have sex.
It is important to find medical professionals, such as Oregon Reproductive Medicine, to guide you through the process of evaluating sterility or infertility.
Infertility can be treated in several different ways, through fertility testing and treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Testing for Infertility
When a couple tries to conceive for an extended period of time without a resulting viable pregnancy, it is called infertility. Fertility Testing takes place to establish the cause of the infertility.
Female Fertility Testing
A female undergoing fertility testing will begin with hormone testing and evaluation. Specialists will then confirm that ovulation is occurring regularly, as well as test and measure the thickness of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels.
An additional examination will evaluate the health and condition of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding environments and determine if there is anything abnormal, or if there is a blockage.
Fertility testing can also ascertain whether the cervical mucous has the correct consistency to effectively deliver sperm to the uterus.
Male Fertility Testing
Male factor infertility may be the cause in 40-50% of all infertility cases. 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 can be caused by problems with sperm production, hormone imbalances, or other conditions that affect fertility in general. To diagnose if a male is infertile, fertility tests are administered.
Fertility tests for the male will include a semen analysis. This analysis will check for sperm production, mobility (the ability for sperm to swim or move around), and the size and shape of the sperm.
Moving Past Infertility
Infertility can be addressed in numerous ways, and the specialists at Oregon Reproductive Services have one of the highest IVF birth rates in the nation for women under 35. Each patient is different, and ORM will tailor your reproductive treatments to suit your best-case scenario for having a healthy baby. You can find out more about fertility 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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