Sexual and reproductive health

Multiple definitions of infertility

21 October 2016

In 2009, WHO joined with the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART) and other partners to develop a Glossary of definitions for infertility and fertility care. This Glossary included the clinical definition for infertility 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.” This is keeping with WHO definition of male and female infertility in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10)

WHO has not changed its use of this definition. It is important to note that this definition provides a clinical description of infertility. It does not make any recommendations about the provision of fertility care services.

WHO is currently collaborating with its partners to update the Glossary and consideration is being given to revising the definition of infertility. Should there be a change in the definition of infertility, it will remain a clinical description of infertility as a disease of the reproductive system and will not make recommendations about the provision of fertility care services.