12.1  Definition of infertility

Two women a seated opposite each other discussing infertility.
Figure 12.1  Who is affected by infertility?

Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after having unprotected sexual intercourse for a period of at least one year. Although often the woman is blamed, infertility occurs in both men and women (Figure 12.1). In many developing countries, including Ethiopia, having children is one of the principal mechanisms maintaining the cohesion of the family. If a couple is unable to have children, it can create an unhappy marriage and result in divorce, even when both the husband and wife are infertile. In most African countries, a man’s wealth is measured by the number of children he has. In rural areas, children are an important asset, as they will work on the land and care for their aged parents.

  • Do the above circumstances apply in your community or village? How could you help?

  • You will be able to help couples by providing appropriate counselling to help them manage their infertility problems.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 12

12.2  Types of infertility