Definitions – Subfertility and Infertility


Courtesy of Demystifying Medicine, McMaster University

Subfertility and Infertility

Reproductive health issues, in particular subfertility and infertility, are global concerns. Both conditions are defined as the involuntary failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.1

However, in subfertility, pregnancy can occur without fertility treatment, although it may take longer than 12 months to conceive. In contrast, infertility requires fertility treatment for clinical pregnancy.

Subfertility and infertility should not be confused with sterility. An infertile individual may have a minimal chance of getting pregnant without fertility treatment; however, a sterile individual cannot conceive without medical assistance.

Note: References are listed at the end of the course.

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