A woman is fertile from the time she begins to have her period, but her fertility diminishes with age. For men there is also a gradual decrease, but later and less pronounced.
For a number of different reasons women decide to have children later and later in life. So with each passing day women find it more and more difficult to become pregnant. A few years ago, Assisted Reproductive Technologies were relatively rare nowadays they are becoming standard practice due to women delaying having children.
Sterility is defined as the inability to conceive. This may be of female or male origin. The couple is considered to be sterile when pregnancy is not achieved after one year of unprotected sexual relations. The concept of sterility must be distinguished from that of infertility. We refer to primary sterility when there has never been a pregnancy and secondary sterility when there have been previous pregnancies but it later it becomes impossible to conceive again.
In the case of infertility, the woman becomes pregnant but suffers miscarriages.
In short, sterility is when pregnancy is not achieved and infertility when, in spite of becoming pregnant, the pregnancy is not carried to term. It is worth noting that in Anglo-Saxon countries, the term “infertility” is often used to refer to both concepts which may lead to confusion when reading texts translated from Spanish.
Between 10% and 15% of the population in the western world is sterile or infertile.
According to the SEF (Spanish Fertility Society) 25% of couples achieve pregnancy within the first month of having regular, unprotected sexual relations; 85% after a year and 90% after 2 years.
This is why, a basic sterility study is recommended after one year of trying to get pregnant without any success and after six months if the woman is over 35.
In our society women enter into stable relationships much later in life and this has had an effect on fertility. The average age of women giving birth for the first time in Spain is 31 years old. Sterility at 30 is 6 times higher than at 20, and doubles again at 40.
Men’s fertility decreases progressively once they reach 50 years old, although alterations in the spermogram’s parameters can be observed from as early as the age of 25, the transcendence is much lower than in women.