Reproductive dysfunction rather than infertility

Written by: Dr. Eleuterio Hernández de Miguel
Published: | Updated: 21/05/2018
Edited by: Top Doctors®

Any person who is unable to reproduce is defined as " sterile " and if he fails to carry out a pregnancy as " infertile "; scientific categories that at the popular level were synonymous with: seca, machorra, barren, etc.. and with the accusing finger always pointing to the same gender, the feminine one.

The term sterility, scientifically referenced, appears in various treatises of the seventeenth century as, for example, De Sterilitate Utriusque Sexus (Jean Hucher, 1570-1630), Observations diverses sur la sterilité (Louise Bourgeois, 1564-1644), De Sterilitate (Martin Naboth 1675-1721). However, in recent times the term infertile has been imposed on the sterile to define both situations. Apart from academic categories and other considerations, the truth is that today these two terms (infertility and sterility) are obsolete, restrictive, poorly perceived by society and embarrasses those who suffer. Moreover, they come from a time when being sterile was really being; that is, without any possibility of obtaining offspring ; the opposite of what is happening now. For example, in FIVMadrid more than 80% of infertile couples will achieve offspring thanks to advances in reproductive medicine. That is, there is a clear contradiction between the term (sterility / infertility) and the final result (pregnancy).

Therefore, is not it time to look for a new definition that substitutes them, that is more in agreement with the results of reproductive medicine and is less pejorative? Reproduction is an essential function through which other beings similar to them of the same species originate. To exercise this function correctly, one must be fertile and, therefore, in cases where there is a deviation in the correct function of reproduction, we would be faced with a "dysfunction of reproduction" or with a being that is "infertile". So, we have two terms to choose from to refer and catalog our patients. One based on the origin of the problem, dysfunction , and another in the result of the problem, infertility. In my opinion, the criterion to be followed for the use of one (dysfunction) or another (infertile) in the daily clinic should be more important the knowledge and results that reproductive medicine offers us today and less the empiricism of the past.

So the logical thing to do would be to tell the patients that what they suffer is a reproductive dysfunction (idiopathic, ovarian, tubal, uterine, immunological, etc.) and not an infertility, which carries an emotional, pejorative and related burden. more with failure and disability to exercise a function.

Impotence due to dysfunction

A very illustrative example of how the mood of patients can change before a term that is verbal and socially shameful; is that of erectile dysfunction. In this case, the arrival of a revolutionary and resolutive treatment (sidelfanil) was accompanied by a terminological change (" impotence " by " dysfunction "); that not only raised the self - esteem of patients who suffered it, but also placed the pathology before society, family and friends in a natural way .

I hope that with the use of "reproductive dysfunction" instead of "infertility" there will be a substantial change in the attitudes and perceptions of those who suffer from it and in part of the society that observes and judges them.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Eleuterio Hernández de Miguel
Fertility Specialty

Eminence specialty with over 35 years experience, trained and worked in American universities of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, where he also began a research task for which he is renowned. PhD Cum Laude and was published more than 150 articles on reproductive endocrinology journals internationally.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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