What To Know About Primary Infertility

by Tessa Shull

Most people know that infertility refers to the inability to have children. What a lot of people don't realize, however, is that there are different types of infertility. The two major types include primary and secondary infertility, and there are numerous couples throughout the world who are dealing with one or the other without even realizing it. So, what's primary infertility and how is it different from secondary infertility?

It can take couples several times of trying to conceive before getting pregnant. Additionally, it may be harder for some couples to get pregnant than others or take months of trying with no luck. And that leaves a lot of couples wondering at what point they're considered to be struggling with infertility.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, primary infertility is referenced when a couple has had sex for at least one year without any form of birth control but still cannot become pregnant. This applies even if you've had a miscarriage or stillborn child within that first year as well. So once you've reached the one year mark without becoming pregnant and carrying a live birth to full term, you're dealing with what's classified as primary infertility.

That being said, the term "primary" only applies if you haven't had children previously. According to Resolve (The National Infertility Association), secondary infertility refers to couples who've had a child previously, without assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications, but cannot conceive afterwards. This is also classified after one year of trying to conceive with no birth control methods used. So the only difference between primary and secondary infertility is that those who are struggling with primary infertility have not previously carried a biological child to full term.

Regardless of the type of infertility couples are struggling with, infertility is a medical problem, according to the aforementioned Resolve article. Additionally, around 30 perfect of infertility is due to a factor concerning the female and 30 percent is due to the male. And "in the balance of the cases, infertility results from problems in both partners or the cause of the infertility cannot be explained," according to Resolve.

The World Health Organization further classified primary infertility by defining the reproductive age infertility pertains to as between 15 and 49 years old. If you are within the reproductive age and unable to conceive after one year, that's the point at which you may want to reach out to a specialist for further advice or options moving forward.