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What is infertility?

In November 2009 the World Health Organisation (hereinafter referred to as “WHO”) officially recognized infertility as a disease.  Significantly, the glossary defines infertility itself as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse”.

Infertility in women was ranked the 5th highest serious global disability (among populations under the age of 60).

Primary infertility

When a woman is unable to ever bear a child, either due to the inability to become pregnant or the inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth she would be classified as having primary infertility. Thus women whose pregnancy spontaneously miscarries, or whose pregnancy results in a still born child, without ever having had a live birth would present with primary infertility.

Secondary infertility

When a woman is unable to bear a child, either due to the inability to become pregnant or the inability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth following either a previous pregnancy or a previous ability to carry a pregnancy to a live birth, she would be classified as having secondary infertility. Thus those who repeatedly spontaneously miscarry or whose pregnancy results in a stillbirth, or following a previous pregnancy or a previous ability to do so, are then not unable to carry a pregnancy to a live birth would present with secondary infertility.

(Data obtained from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/infertility/definitions/en/)

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