Circumstantial Infertility

Definition - What does Circumstantial Infertility mean?

Circumstantial infertility is a term used to describe an individual or a couple with a desire to conceive but who do not have a partner of the opposite sex to accomplish this goal through traditional methods. While the definition lacks consensus, this could be a single person without a partner or same-sex couples who need third party assistance to conceive a biological child. These individuals do not have an actual medical or psychological condition causing true infertility, but still, experience very real barriers to becoming biological parents.

There are varying opinions on the appropriateness of using this term to describe the situation of an individual or couple.

Circumstantial infertility may also be referred to as social infertility.

FertilitySmarts explains Circumstantial Infertility

The medical definition of infertility according to the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that infertility is an issue between heterosexual couples who "fail to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse." This diagnosis does not apply to individuals who still require assisted reproductive technology to build a family, but not for medical reasons.

There are, however, reasons for childlessness beyond medical infertility. Factors related to social infertility may include:

  • Lack of partner—Individuals may be interested in a family but are waiting to find the right partner.
  • Social pressures—Some individuals or couples feel burdened with responsibilities and stress that makes them delay childbearing.
  • Financial considerations—For some who meet the medical definition of infertility, the financial burden of assisted reproduction becomes an additional factor in their inability conceive.
  • Same-sex relationships —Although there are ways for same-sex couples to conceive a biological child, they require the use of assisted reproductive technology and donor eggs, sperm or embryos.

Social egg freezing is becoming increasingly popular among individuals who want to preserve their eggs, even without any medical indication, for use at a later stage in life to conceive a child.


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