Differences between sterility and infertility

  1. avatar

    Hello Doctor, I’ve a question that is killing me since I found out I was sterile or infertile. I often see people using the terms “sterility” and “infertility” with no difference, and I understand they refer to the same concept every time they use them. But I’ve read somewhere that they do not have exactly the same meaning so I’m writing here with the expectation that you can give me some explanations on this. Mainly because I don’t know what to say, “I’m sterile” or “I’m infertile”. Thank you Sir/Madam

    April 1, 2016 at 9:39 am
  2. avatar
    Sandra F.
    Fertility counselor

    Dear Olivia,

    that is a very good question, as many people have that doubt, too. Strictly speaking, the definition of sterility can be divided into the following types:

    1. Primary sterility: it is diagnosed when a couple haven’t achieved pregnancy after a whole year engaging into unprotected sexual activity.
    2. Secondary sterility: after having their child, a couple may be unable to get pregnancy for a second time; it is diagnosed in the case of couples who don’t achieve so after an entire year trying to conceive unsuccessfully.

    As for “infertility”, we can also distinguish between “primary infertility” and “secondary infertility”. Definitions are given hereunder:

    1. Primary infertility: in this case, a couple can achieve pregnancy, but the woman is unable to carry it to term (miscarriage) for a number of reasons.
    2. Secondary infertility: when a couple, after a first pregnancy and subsequent labor, is unable to carry a second pregnancy to term.

    I hope now you understand what is the difference between these two concepts,


    April 7, 2016 at 11:01 am