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FERTILITY GLOSSARY BY NORDICA

Make use of our fertility glossary to understand the medical words and terms you might encounter on your journey to parenthood

Abortion – The medical process by which a pregnancy is brought to an end before the foetus can survive outside the womb. It can be spontaneous or deliberate.

ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic Hormone) – Hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal gland. Abnormal levels are sometimes associated with infertility.

Adhesions – Scar-like tissue that abnormally attaches to internal organs, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, uterus or other internal organs. Adhesions can wrap up or distort these organs, limiting their movement, function and causing infertility and pain.

Adrenal Androgens – Male hormones produced by the adrenal gland that are sometimes elevated in women with PCOS, causing fertility problems.

Adverse Outcome: This happens when a woman’s pregnancy does not result in the birth of a baby. It could also mean early stillbirth, late stillbirth, term stillbirth, early neonatal death, congenital anomalies, traumatic birth.

Amenorrhea – The absence of menstruation for six months or more or; absence of menstrual periods for the length of three cycles in a row.

primary – Having never menstruated by the age of 16
secondary – The absence of menstruation for three months or more in women who have had menstrual cycles in the past.

Amniocentesis –  A procedure done in the second trimester of pregnancy to check for abnormalities of the foetus by removing some amniotic fluid from the uterus and testing it.

Andrologist – A doctor that specializes in the area of male health, particularly male fertility and reproductive health.

Anovulation – Lack of ovulation that can occur with or without menstruation

Antibodies – Substances made by the body that attack foreign organisms like bacteria and viruses and help prevent infection; may also cause infertility in certain cases.

Artificial Insemination (AI) – The introduction of sperm directly into a female’s reproductive tract for fertilization of the egg.

ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology): All treatments that involve combining the eggs that were removed from a woman’s ovaries with sperm to enable pregnancy. The types of ART are in vitro fertilization, gamete intra fallopian transfer, and zygote intra fallopian transfer.

ART Cycle: A process in which 1) an ART procedure is carried out, 2) a woman has undergone ovarian stimulation or monitoring with the intent of having an ART procedure, or 3) frozen embryos have been thawed with the intent of transferring them to a woman. A cycle begins when a woman begins taking fertility drugs or having her ovaries monitored for follicle production.

Asherman’s Syndrome – A condition that occurs when scar tissue forms inside the uterus, possibly leading to menstrual irregularities and/or infertility.

Aspiration – The removal of fluid or tissue from the body, usually with a needle or tube.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) – Fertility treatments that include the handling of both the egg and the sperm; includes IUI, IVF, GIFT, and ZIFT.

Assisted hatching – A procedure done by embryologists to break down the thick outer wall of an embryo, to facilitate implantation. It is done prior to embryo transfer in IVF cycles.

Asthenozoospermia – Sperm with reduced motility and consequently poor quality.

Azoospermia – The absence of sperm in semen.

 

B

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) – The body temperature that is taken the first thing in the morning before rising from bed and that rises and falls due to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.

Beta hCG Test – This is a blood test undertaken to test for pregnancy or measure levels of hCG in early pregnancy. HCG is Human Chronic Gonadotropin.

Bicornuate uterus – abnormal structure of the womb almost dividing it into two chambers. It can cause infertility and it may be fixed with surgery.

Blighted ovum (egg) – A fertilized egg that implants itself in the uterus but does not develop normally.

Bromocriptine (Parlodel) – A medication that reduces prolactin levels and treats pituitary tumors.

 

C

Canceled cycle –An ART cycle that was stopped before eggs were retrieved or embryos were transferred.

Candidiasis – A fungal infection sometimes found in the vagina.

Capacitation: The process that sperm must undergo in order to fertilize an oocyte (egg).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): A government agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for publishing annual fertility clinic success rates.

 

Complete Blood Count (CBC): A blood test that measures red and white blood cells, hemoglobin and other factors to diagnose and assess potential disease.

Cervical Factor: Infertility due to a structural or hormonal abnormality of the cervix. This can be induced by previous surgery on the cervix (such as a LEEP or cone procedures) that leaves the cervical canal scarred or closed, termed stenosis. Also applied when there are factors associated with the cervix which inhibit sperm function such as thickened mucus which prevents the sperm from traveling through the cervix into the female reproductive tract. Cervical factor infertility can usually be overcome using inseminations of sperm past the cervix in to the uterus.

Cervical mucus – Mucus produced by the cervix that changes consistency during a woman’s monthly cycle.

Cervical Mucus: Normal secretions of the cervix which change in volume and consistency throughout the menstrual cycle. Its quality is a reflection of hormonal stimulation.

Cervical smear – A cellular sample that is extracted from the cervix and examined for cancer or other abnormalities.

Cervix: The lower section of the uterus which protrudes into the vagina and serves as a reservoir for sperm. It keeps pregnancies from delivering prematurely.

Chemical pregnancy – is actually a very early miscarriage, which takes place before anything can be seen on an ultrasound scan. It means a sperm fertilized your egg but later on it failed to survive.

Chocolate cyst – Ovarian cysts containing old blood that has turned brown.

Chromosome – Structures that hold our genetic material.

Cilia – Hair like structures that help the egg move inside the fallopian tubes

Clinical pregnancy – A pregnancy that is confirmed with a clinical intervention like an ultrasound.

Cleavage: Division of one cell into 2, 2 into 4, 4 into 8, etc. This is measured in the embryology laboratory during IVF cycles.

Clomiphene citrate – An oral medication that causes a surge of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland and stimulates ovulation to boost fertility.

Congenital Anomaly: A defect, developed before birth. These can include very minor irregularities, such as curvature of the second toe so it overlaps the third toe, or can be a more major anomaly such as a heart defect.

Corpus luteum – Endocrine tissue that secretes progesterone after ovulation and during pregnancy to boost implantation.

Cryopreservation – Preserving eggs, embryos, and sperm in a controlled freezing environment for fertility treatment and ART.

Cryopreservation: Controlled freezing and storage. This may be employed for sperm, embryos and oocytes (eggs).

Cushing’s syndrome – An excess of corticosteroids, like cortisol that can affect fertility and cause weight gain, male sex characteristics and other symptoms in women.

Cumulus: The cloud-like collection of supportive follicle cells that surround the oocyte (egg).

Cycle – A round of fertility treatment that takes about a month between start and completion.

Cyst – A fluid filled structure or sac surrounded by a membrane; may or may not cause health problems. They are very common in both natural and stimulated cycles.

 

 

D

Dilation and Curettage (D&C) – A procedure to dilate the cervix and scrape away the uterine lining.

Danazol (danocrine) – A synthetic androgen drug used to treat endometriosis that may cause acne, changes in breast size, weight gain, and other symptoms.

DES (Diethylstilbestrol) – A synthetic form of estrogen used between 1938-1971 to prevent miscarriage and premature birth but was then found to cause cancer and other health problems in some babies that were exposed to it in utero.

DHEAS (Dihydroepiandrosterone Sulfate)– A weak male hormone produced by the adrenal gland in some women that, in high doses, can cause excess hair growth and other symptoms.

Donor egg – Eggs donated by healthy young women that can be implanted in infertile women after fertilisation for pregnancy.

Donor Egg Cycle: The use of donated eggs from a donor. These eggs are harvested via an IVF cycle performed on the donor, inseminated with sperm and then form embryos which are transferred into the womb of the intended parent.

Donor insemination– Injection of donor sperm into a participating woman during artificial insemination to get her pregnant.

Donor embryo transfer– Donor egg and/or donor sperm are transferred to a woman’s uterus during IVF to help her get pregnant.

Donor sperm – Sperm, which are donated by a male donor for use in artificial insemination or IVF.

Ductus Deferens (vas): A tubular structure running from each testis into the ejaculatory duct. These structures carry sperm from the testicles to the epididymis to the penis for ejaculation.

 

 

E

Ectopic pregnancy: This is also called a tubal pregnancy because the pregnancy is implanted outside the uterus; most often in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy can have serious medical consequences.

Egg – Also called oocyte or ovum, this is the female sex cell/female gamete that is fertilized by sperm during reproduction.

Egg retrieval – This is a procedure to remove an egg from the ovarian follicles for ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), IVF or other procedures.

Egg Transfer (also called oocyte transfer): The transfer of retrieved eggs into a woman’s fallopian tubes through laparoscopy.

Ejaculate – Fluid expelled by the male phallus containing sperm-filled semen.

Embryo transfer – The procedure of placing the embryos into the uterus during an IVF cycle.

Embryo – The early stage of the human foetus, popularly believed to be between implantation and eight weeks of pregnancy.

Endocrinology: The study of hormones, their function and the organs that produce them.

Endometrial biopsy: is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to check for abnormalities.

Endometrial Cavity: The space inside the uterus that is created by the inner lining of the uterus that responds to female hormones during the menstrual and treatment cycles. This lining, when properly prepared, forms the area of attachment and implantation of the embryo. Commonly referred to as the womb.

Endometriosis – The presence of endometrial tissue in abnormal locations such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and peritoneal cavity. This often causes painful menstruation and abdominal pain.

Endometrium – This is the lining of the uterus that prevents adhesions between the opposed walls of the myometrium, thereby maintaining the patency of the uterine cavity. A portion of this lining is shed each month with menstruation.

Endorphins – They are produced by the central nervous system and the pituitary gland. They induce feelings like pain relief.

Epididymis – This is a tube that connects a testicle to the vas deferens in the male reproductive system.

Estradiol – A form of estrogen, a female sex hormone that regulates many processes in the body.

Estrogen – A female sex hormone that stimulates the development of female sex characteristics.

 

 

F

Fecundity: The ability to successfully conceive and carry the pregnancy to term.

Fallopian tube – These are the tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus through which the egg is released during ovulation for fertilization by the sperm.

Fertility: This is the natural capability to conceive.

Fertility Specialist – Doctors that focus on diagnosing and treating infertility e.g Dr Abayomi Ajayi.

Fertilization– The union of egg and sperm for pregnancy.

Foetus – The unborn offspring from eight weeks after implantation to the time of birth.

Fibroid – A benign tumor made of muscle cells and other tissues that is found in the uterine wall (also called a myoma).

Fimbria: This is a finger-like projection at the end of the fallopian tube near the ovary. It aids in gathering in the oocyte (egg) at ovulation.

Follicle – The place in the ovary where the egg develops each month. During ovulation the follicle releases the egg into the fallopian tube.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)– A hormone from the pituitary gland that stimulates ovarian follicles to develop.

Follicular phase – The first half of the menstrual cycle, starting from day one when menstrual bleeding begins to ovulation. It lasts typically for 14 days. The next phase is the luteal phase.

Follicular fluid– is a liquid which houses the ovum in an ovarian follicle.

Fresh Eggs, Sperm, or Embryos: Eggs, sperm, or embryos that have not been frozen.

Frozen Cycle: A cycle in which embryos are preserved through freezing.

 

 

G

Gamete: A mature sex cell, especially a mature sperm or egg capable of fusing with a  gamete of the opposite sex to produce a zygote.

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) – This is a tool of assisted reproductive technology against infertility. During the procedure, eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries, and placed in one of the Fallopian tubes, along with the man’s sperm.

Gestation– The period of time between conception and the birth of a baby.

Gestational Carrier (or gestational surrogate): A woman who carries a child for another couple, but the carrier not the biological mother of the child and is usually under contractual obligation to return the baby to the couple.

Gestational Sac: is the first sign of early pregnancy on ultrasound and can be seen with an endovaginal ultrasound at approximately 3-5 weeks gestation. In a normal pregnancy, a gestational sac contains a developing fetus.

Gonad – Reproductive glands that produce sex cells (eggs and sperm) and hormones. In women, they are ovaries and in males, the testes.

Gonadotropin – They stimulate the development of the gonads and are essential for reproduction.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) – This hormone is produced by the hypothalamus. It stimulates the release of gonadotropins (luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone ), which also stimulates the testicles or ovaries.

 

 

H

Hamster test – A male’s sperm are mixed with hamster eggs in a dish and the sperm observed to see how many penetrate the egg (also called Sperm Penetration Assay or SPA).

Habitual abortion -Three or more spontaneous abortions in a row.

Hirsutism – Hirsutism is a condition where women have excess body and facial hair. This is caused by high levels of androgens.

Hormonal assay – Hormone tests that checks for levels homrmones like FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), DHEA S (dehydroepiandresterone), prolactin and progesterone.

Hormone – Hormones are chemical messengers that are secreted directly into the blood, which carries them to organs and tissues of the body to exert their functions.

Hostile mucus – When a woman’s cervical mucus is hostile, that means it is too thick thus blocking the sperm from penetrating the cervix.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) – This is a placental and an early pregnancy hormone initially secreted by cells from the implanting conceptus during week 2, supporting the ovarian corpus luteum, which in turn supports the endometrial lining and therefore maintains pregnancy. This hormone is also used as an injection to induce ovulation and maturation of the oocyte (egg) in ovarian stimulation protocols.

 

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone of early pregnancy that is monitored to determine viability of the gestation. This hormone is also used as an injection to induce ovulation and maturation of the oocyte (egg) in ovarian stimulation protocols.

Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (HMG): Also called Menotropin. As a medication, it is used to stimulate development of multiple follicles in treatment cycles.

Hydrocele – A painless build up of watery fluid around one or both testicles that causes the scrotum or groin area to swell. A doctor should be consulted to rule out other causes.

Hyperprolactinemia – The presence of abnormally high levels of prolactin in the blood. Can suppress LH and FSH production, affecting male and female fertility.

Hyperstimulation (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – OHSS) – This is a medical condition affecting the ovaries of some women with medically induced ovulation. Cases are usually mild, but rarely the condition is severe and can lead to serious illness or death.

Hyperthyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive and makes excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. It can affect female ovulation and fertility.

Hypoestrogenic – Also known as estrogen deficiency, this refers to a lower than normal level of estrogen, the primary sex hormone in women.

Hypospermatogenesis – Decreased production of spermatozoa in men.

Hypothalamus – The portion of the brain that secretes GnRH, which enables the release of LH and FSH to stimulate the ovarian and testes development.

Hypothyroidism – Inadequate production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. A causal factor for slow metabolism and fatigue, and impaired fertility.

Hysterectomy – A hysterectomy is a surgery to remove a woman’s uterus (also called the womb).

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – An X-ray examination using a special dye injected into the uterus to observe the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test helps determine if the tubes are blocking sperm from reaching the ovulated eggs through the fallopian tubes.

Hysteroscopy: is a procedure that allows your doctor check the uterus in order to diagnose and treat causes of abnormal bleeding. Hysteroscopy is done using a hysteroscope.

Hysteroscope– A thin lighted tube similar to a laparoscope that allows for interior visual exam of the cervix and uterus.

 

I

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection): A procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. A common procedure in treating male infertility problems.

Immature sperm (germinal cell) – premature sperm with low motility.

Implantation is the very early stage of pregnancy at which the fertilized egg starts to embed into the uterine lining where it starts to develop as an embryo. The whole process, from fertilization to implantation, usually takes about 9-10 days. When implantation is not successful, the body will expel the egg at the next menstrual flow. Signs include brief cramps, headaches, fatigue, bloating, mood swings and sometimes bleeding.

Impotence – Inability to have erections or ejaculate sperm.

Incomplete abortion -An abortion accompanied by pain and bleeding that does not eliminate all embryonic and fetal tissue inside the uterus.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) – This is a complex artificial reproductive process used to treat infertility or genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from your ovaries and fertilized with a sperm cell in a lab.

Infertility – This refers to the inability to conceive after having regular unprotected sex for a period of one year. Infertility can also mean the biological inability of an individual to contribute to conception, or of a female who cannot carry a pregnancy to full term.

Impaired Fecundity: This is the term used for couples who have trouble conceiving or carry a baby in utero once conception occurs.

Injectables – Fertility medications (usually ovulation induction medications) that are injected.

Insemination– The transfer of sperm into a woman’s body to establish pregnancy.

Intracervical Insemination (ICI) – Artificial insemination procedure where sperm are injected directly into a woman’s cervix to improve the chances of pregnancy.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – This is an in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) – is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm directly into a woman’s uterus with a catheter and syringe to facilitate fertilization. IUI is not considered an ART procedure because it does not involve the manipulation of eggs.

 

 

K

Karyotyping – A test analyzing chromosomes for potential genetic abnormalities.

A karotype is the number and appearance of chromosomes in the nucleus of an eukaryotic cell. The term is also used for the complete set of chromosomes in a species, or an individual organism.

Klinefelter syndrome(47,XXY) – is a chromosomal condition that affects male physical and cognitive development. It happens when a male is born with two X and one Y chromosome, causing possible feminine qualities and infertility.

 

L

Laparoscope– a telescopic instrument that is inserted through a small incision and into the abdomen, for viewing of the pelvis, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.

Laparoscopy is a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through a cut (incision) in the belly to look at the abdominal organs or the female pelvic organs. Laparoscopy is used to find problems such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids, and infection. Laparoscopy is perfomed using a laparoscope.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a fiber optic instrument (a laparoscope) is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to view the inside of the pelvis. It could be operative or diagnostic.

Leydig cell: Cells in the testes that produces male hormones, including testosterone, and is stimulated by LH from the pituitary gland.

Live Birth: The delivery of one or more babies with signs of life.

Luteinizing hormone (LH) – A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the ovary to release an egg during ovulation and testosterone production in males. It is also relevant in the production of sperm cells and the maintenance of the corpus liteum.

LH surge – A surge of LH followed by the release of an egg from a follicle in the ovaries. It can be caused by abnormally high LH level; also caused by premature menopause; swyer syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome.

There are tests called OPKs or ovulation predictor kits that measure LH surge in urine. They are 99-percent accurate and are marketed as ovulation tests. The test has two forms. The first measures LH in urine for seven days while the other option is a monthly testing kit that includes enough tests to measure LH for 20 consecutive days. LH Surge does not occur in all women.
Lupron (leuprolide): It overstimulates the body’s own production of certain hormones, which cause that particular production to shut down temporarily.

Lupron Injection (leuprolide acetate) is used to treat symptoms of prostate cancer, and in women to treat symptoms of endometriosis or uterine fibroids. It is also used to treat precocious (early-onset) puberty in both male and female children.

Luteal phase – The final phase of the menstrual cycle that ends with pregnancy or menses. This phase often lasts between 12-14 days.

Luteal Phase Deficiency (LPD)(or Luteal phase Defect): This is the deficiency of progesterone in the second half of the menstrual cycle when a pregnancy begins. This can cause recurrent miscarriages. Treatment involves supplementation with progesterone and other measures.

 

 

 

 

M

Male Factor: Any cause of infertility due to deficiencies in sperm quantity or quality or any condition that makes it difficult for a sperm to fertilize an egg under normal conditions. Male factor problems includes structural abnormalities, sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances and immunologic disorders.

Male infertility means a man is not able to get his female partner pregnant. It could be caused by inability to make enough sperm or healthy sperm or even a genetic problem like cystic fibrosis.

Menorrhagia – Abnormally heavy and prolonged bleeding at menstruation.

Menstruation(also called menses, menstrual cycle). – Monthly cycle of bleeding where the uterine lining is shed after a woman fails to achieve pregnancy.

Metrorrhagia (metro = womb, -rrhagia = excessive flow) – This is the appearance of uterine bleeding at irregular intervals during the menstrual cycle. In some women it occurs as a normal and harmless part of ovulation.

MetrodinTM: Human FSH prepared used medically for ovarian stimulation.

Micromanipulation – Procedure where a microscopic single sperm is injected into an egg, as with ICSI.

Micromanipulation: The name of a group of laboratory techniques that allow sperm, eggs and embryos to be worked upon under the guidance of the microscope.

Miscarriage: Also known as spontaneous abortion is pregnancy loss of the foetus or natural death of an embryo or fetus in the first 20 weeks gestation.

Missed abortion -The loss of a fetus without any noticeable symptoms, or a loss without complete elimination of the fetus. A D&C is required to complete the abortion.

Mittleschmerz – This is a slight pain or cramping in the abdomen noticed by some women during ovulation.

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction(MFPR): A procedure used to decrease the number of foetuses in a multiple pregnancy and improve the chances that the remaining foetuses will develop into healthy infants.

Multiple Births: This occurs when pregnant woman gives birth to more than two or more infants.

Multiple Gestation: A pregnancy with multiple foetuses.

Myomectomy – The surgical removal of benign fibroid tumors from the womb(uterus).

 

 

O

Oligmenorrhea – Menstrual periods occurring less frequently than normal.

Oligospermia – Low levels of sperm in the semen.

Oocyte – The female reproductive cell that is produced in the ovaries. It is also called an egg.

Oocyte retrieval – This is the extraction of eggs during surgery via the insertion of a needle into the ovarian follicles.

Ovarian failure – This occurs when there is a surge in the levels of FSH in the blood. It refers to loss of normal function of the ovaries before the age of 40years.

Ovarian cyst – A fluid-filled sac that develops in a woman’s ovary that can vary in size. It can sometimes cause pain and can be an indicator of PCOS if there are multiple cysts. Symptoms of an ovarian cyst include nausea, vomiting, bloating, painful bowel movements, and pain during sex.

Ovarian Monitoring: The monitoring of follicle development and hormone production through the use of ultrasound and/or blood or urine tests.

Ovarian Stimulation: The use of fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries to develop follicles and eggs.

Ovulation dysfunction, a cause of Infertility for patients trying to get pregnant due to problems with egg production. It is caused by PCOS, luteal phase defect & low ovarian reserve.

Ovary: The female sex gland with both a reproductive function (production of eggs or ova) and a hormonal function (production of estrogen and progesterone).

Ovum (ova or egg): Mature oocytes.

Ovulation: The release of a mature egg from the surface of the ovary during a menstrual cycle.

Ovulation induction – Use of a group of medications(fertility drugs) to improve hormone levels and/or boost the development and release of eggs during fertility treatment.

Ovulatory failure (anovulation) – Lack of ovulation during the menstrual cycle (no egg is released for fertilization).

Ovulatory phase – Occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle; the release of the egg for fertilization.

Ovum– Female sex cell that contains genetic material for the embryo (also called egg, gamete)

 

P

Pap test – a screening test carried out on a cervical smear to detect pre-cancerous conditions of the cervix in women.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – Inflammation of the female genital tract that may lead to the development of scar tissue and/or tubal problems. It is the primary preventable cause of infertility in women and a leading cause of ectopic pregnancies. PID is caused when the cervix’s defensive functions has been weakened by a STD. PID is mostly caused by Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia. Other causes are abortion, childbirth and pelvic procedures.

Pergonal is a fertility drug used to treat fertility issues in women, especially women who are anovular and oligoovular. Pergonal is considered a menotropin, which is a mixture of follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH).

Pituitary gland – Popularly called the master gland, it is a small gland at the base of the brain. It releases and regulates the body’s hormones in response to signals from the hypothalamus.

Placenta – This organ connects the foetus to the uterus of the mother via the umbilical cord. This ensures the regular supply of nutrients and oxygen for development.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS or “Stein Leventhal Syndrome”) – A hormonal disturbance linked to infrequent ovulation that may include symptoms like menstrual problems, weight gain, pain, infertility, and hair/skin problems.

Polyps: are abnormal growths of tissue that can be found in any organ that has blood vessels. They are most often found in the colon, nose, or uterus and can be removed by surgery.

Polyspermy: This is the fertilization of an egg by multiple sperms.

Post coital test (PCT) – The microscopic analysis test done several hours after intercourse to look for the presence of healthy, active sperm, fertile-quality cervical mucus, and healthy sperm-mucus interaction.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): A procedure for identifying genetic information about embryos before transferring them back to a patient’s endometrial cavity (the womb).This is done to prevent certain diseases or disorders from being passed on to the child. This procedure used to screen embryos to detect diseases, improve IVF success rates and achieve gender selection.

Premature ovarian failure (POF) – A syndrome associated with high levels of gonadotropins and low levels of estrogen, often causing menstruation to end before age 40. There is the loss of function of the ovaries before age 40. A commonly cited triad for the diagnosis is amenorrheahypergonadotropism, and hypoestrogenism

Pregnancy (clinical): Pregnancy observed by the presence of a gestational sac on ultrasound. It can also be detected if the woman’s uterus is growing larger.

Primary Infertility: Infertility in couples who have never had children.

Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovary that regulates important functions including preparing the uterus for pregnancy after ovulation.

Prolactin – A hormone that helps women to make breast milk after childbirth and in women that are not nursing, abnormal levels can hinder ovulation, possibly causing infertility.

Pronuclear stage tubal transfer (PROST), similar to ZIFT, is a technique that uses in vitro fertilization (IVF) of oocytes, followed by the transfer of fertilized eggs into the fallopian tubes.

Pronucleus: A specialized stage of the oocyte and sperm nucleus before they join to create a genetically unique embryo. After this union the conceptus is referred to as a zygote.

Prostaglandins: They are hormone-like substances that participate in different body functions especially uterine contractions. They are also involved in the dilation and constriction of blood vessels, control of blood pressure, and modulation of inflammation. During artificial insemination, they are blocked in the woman’s body to reduce cramping.

Prostate gland – A male gland surrounding the neck of the bladder. It releases a fluid component of semen.

 

 

 

R

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, RPL (Recurrent miscarriage or habitual abortion) – This refers to two or more failed pregnancies.

Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) – Also called fertility doctors, they are Doctors trained in obstetrics and gynecology that are board certified in reproductive endocrinology – the study of fertility, glands and hormones.

Retrograde Ejaculation – When the semen is ejaculated, it travels backwards into the bladder due to a problem with the sphincter muscle. Retrograde ejaculation refers to the entry of semen into the urinary bladder instead of ejaculating via the urethra. Sometimes it is called dry orgasm because little or no semen is released.

Rhesus factor: The Rh factor is a type of protein on the surface of red blood cells. Most people who have the Rh factor are Rh-positive. Those who do not have the Rh factor are Rh-negative.

 

S

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART): An affiliate of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine is composed of clinics and programs that provide ART. SART reports annual fertility clinic data to CDC.

Secondary sex characteristics are features that appear at sexual maturity in animals and during puberty in humans, especially the sexually dimorphic phenotypic traits that distinguish the two sexes of a species (male and female), but that, unlike the sex organs, are not directly part of the reproductive system.

Salpingectomy – The removal of the fallopian tubes which is done during surgery.

Scrotum – The sac of skin on the external genitalia of the male that contains the testes.

Secondary infertility – Infertility in couples that have had a successful pregnancy and/or live birth.

Secondary sex characteristics – Physical characteristics such as breasts, facial and body hair, voice changes and other characteristics that appear during puberty, distinguishing males from females.

Semen – A liquid medium that carries the male’s sperm outside of his body and protects and nourishes the sperm.

Semen analysis – Examination of semen under a microscope to assess sperm count, motility, and the size and shape of the sperm.

Single Embryo Transfer (SET) or Elective Single Embryos Transfer (eSET) – This is when a woman undergoing IVF chooses to have a single embryo placed in her uterus or fallopian tube when multiple embryos are available. This is to reduce the chance of having a multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.).

Singleton: This describes a fetus which develops alone in the womb.

Sonogram (ultrasound) – The image produced by ultrasonography. They help physicians observe growth of a foetus, calculate age and due date and see presence of multiple foetuses.

Sperm penetration assay (SPA) – A test usually done before IVF where a man’s sperm are mixed with hamster eggs to see how many sperms penetrate the egg (also called hamster test or hamster zona-free ovum test).

Sperm – Male sex cell carried in semen that holds genetic information from the male (also called gamete). Also referrede to as the male reproductive cell.

Sperm Antibody Test:  This test looks for antibodies that fight against a man’s sperm in blood, vaginal fluids, or semen.

Sperm bank (semen bank or cryobank): This is a facility where human sperm from sperm donors are collected and stored for use by women who need donor-provided sperm to achieve pregnancy.

Sperm motility – Simply defined as the movement of sperm properly through the female reproductive tract or through water (external fertilization) to reach the egg. Low motility may hinder a man’s ability to conceive.

Sperm morphology – Refers to the size and shape of the sperm. During test for male infertility, it is the main factor that’s examined as part of a semen analysis.

Sperm maturation – Sperm take 90 days to fully mature as they grow and attain better motility for fertilization.

Spermatogenesis occurs when spermatozoa are produced from male cells by way of mitosis and meiosis. It takes place in the seminiferous tubules.

Sperm penetration: This refers to the ability of sperm to move through the cervical mucus, swim up the endometrial cavity and down the fallopian tubes, and fertilise the egg during fertilisation.

Sperm Penetration Assay (SPA): A test where sperm are incubated with non-viable hamster eggs to determine the capacity of the sperm to fertilize.

Sperm washing – This is a procedure done for artificial insemination to remove toxic chemicals, reducing cramping and allergic reactions in females after artificial insemination.

Spontaneous abortion: Any pregnancy where the fetus cannot survive or in which the foetus is born before the 20th week of pregnancy.

Sterility – Sterility is the physiological inability to conceive.

Stillbirth: A condition where fetus is lost after 28 completed weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies earlier than that, it’s known as a miscarriage or late foetal loss.

Stimulated Cycle: This is the use of fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation. If drugs are not used it’s called an unstimulated cycle.

Surgical Sterility: Inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term as a result of surgery.

Superovulation – The use of fertility drugs to stimulate a woman to release multiple eggs (also called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation or COH).

Superovulation (controlled ovarian hyper stimulation): This is the process of inducing a woman to release multiple eggs in a month.

Surrogate mother: A woman who gets pregnant and gives birth for a couple who are infertile.

Surrogate mother: This is a woman who is artificially inseminated with a man’s sperm. She then carries the baby and delivers it for the couple to raise.

 

 

T

Testicular/Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (TESA): The surgical removal of sperm directly from the testes using a needle for aspiration.

TESE is a surgical sperm retrieval procedure used in fertility treatment for men who have no sperm in their ejaculate.

Testicular sperm extraction (TESE): is a fertility treatment procedure whereby small portions of tissue from the testicle are extracted and viable sperm cells present are used for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Testicles: Any of the two oval organs that produce sperm and testosterone in men. It is found in the scrotum behind the penis.

Testicular/epididymal sperm aspiration (TESA) – This refers to the medical procedures that are used to obtain viable sperm from the male reproductive tract.

Testosterone – A male sex hormone necessary for the development of male secondary sexual characteristics, sexual urge and the development of sperm.

Therapeutic abortion -The termination of a pregnancy when the mother’s health is threatened.

Threatened abortion -Spotting and/or cramping that occurs within the first 20 weeks of gestation that indicates a miscarriage might occur.

Tubal embryo transfer (TET): is a laparoscopic procedure which involves placing embryos directly in the fallopian tubes.

Thawed Cycle: A cycle in which frozen embryos are thawed for transfer.

Trans-tubal Embryo Transfer (TET): Replacement of a cleaving conceptus into the uterine tube rather than into the uterus. This is an older procedure that has been replaced by standard IVF.

Transvaginal: Passing through the vagina.

Tubal Factor is the structural or functional damage to one or both fallopian tubes that reduces fertility.

Tubal factor infertility (TFI) is female infertility caused by diseases or other factors obstructing the descent of a fertilized or unfertilized ovum into the uterus through the fallopian tubes thus preventing a normal pregnancy and full term birth.

Tubal litigation: This is a form of female birth control where the woman is made permanently sterile by blocking the fallopian tubes.

Tubal Patency: Lack of obstruction of the Fallopian tubes. Tubal patency tests are undertaken when the doctors suspect that there are blockages or pelvic adhesions in the fallopian tubes.

Turner syndrome – A condition where a female has one X-chromosome and missing the second X-chromosome, resulting in limited height, underdeveloped ovaries, lack of ovulation and infertility.

 

U

Ultrasound: A technique used in ART to monitor pregnancy through the use of high-frequency sound waves.

Unexplained Infertility – Unexplained infertility problems in couples.

Unicornuate uterus: represents a malformation where the uterus is formed from only one of the paired Müllerian ducts while the other Müllerian duct does not develop or only in a rudimentary fashion. This can cause infertility.

Unstimulated Cycle: A cycle in assisted reproduction in which a woman does not receive drugs to stimulate ovulation.

Urethra – The tube that carries urine outside of the body in males and females, and in males this tube also carries semen outside of the body.

Uterus: The muscular organ in females where the embryo is conceived and nourished during pregnancy.  Also known as the womb.

Urologist – This is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.

Uterine tube– Also called the fallopian tube. They have small hair-like projections called cilia on the cells of the lining. There are two Fallopian tubes and they transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus (the womb).

 

 

V

Vaginal ultrasound – Placing a probe into the vagina and using sound waves to view the follicles, ovaries, eggs, fetus, and other internal organs.

Transvaginal ultrasound –  is a test used to look at a woman’s reproductive organs by placing a probe into the vagina.

Vaginitis – Inflammation of the vagina caused by infections. May result in irritation and discharge.

Varicocele –  is an abnormal enlargement of the pampiniform venous plexus in the scrotum. This plexus of veins drains the testicles. The testicular blood vessels originate in the abdomen and course down through the inguinal canal as part of the spermatic cord on their way to the testis.

Vasectomy – A permanent form of male birth control where the vas deferens is blocked or cut, which prevents the release of sperm in the semen.

Vasectomy – is a surgical procedure for permanent male sterilization where the vas deferens is severed or cut or blocked to prevent the release of sperm and fertilisation.

Vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy): is a surgical procedure that reconnects the vas deferens that were cut during a vasectomy.

Venereal disease: These are diseases that are typically contracted by sexual contact with an already infected person e.g. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis etc.

 

Z

Zygote: This is an eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between the egg and sperm resulting full complement of chromosomes.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): ZIFT is an infertility treatment used when there is a blockage in the fallopian tubes. The egg is transferred into the fallopian tube one day after fertilization.

 

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