Infertility Glossary


 

Adhesions: Scar tissue in or around the pelvic organs that may or may not interfere with fertility.

 

Advanced Embryo Selection: A Preimplantation genetic diagnosis test that screens all chromosomes in a developing embryo allowing selection and fresh transfer of the embryo with the best chance of success.

 

Anti-sperm antibodies: Antibodies [that can develop in the bodies of either men or women] block the movement or function of the sperm.

 

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): The collective name for all techniques used artificially to assist women to carry children, including IVF and ICSI.Technologically advanced methods of medical intervention which are intended to help an individual or couple conceive a healthy pregnancy. These include but are not limited to; in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), assisted hatching (AH), embryo biopsy, pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

 

Artificial Insemination: A technique in which semen is injected directly into a woman’s cervix or uterus during her most fertile time of the month. (See also Intrauterine Insemination)

 

Assisted Hatching: The procedure in which the outer layer of the embryo [called the zona] is thinned by a laser to help the embryo implant more easily.

 

Blastocyst: The term for an embryo five days after fertilisation which has now developed a distinctive shape with different parts clearly identifiable within its fluid-filled cavity.

 

Cervix: The neck of the womb.The embryo transfer normally involves passing a small soft catheter through this.

 

Clinical Embryologist: A laboratory technologist who is specially trained to handle and practice micromanipulation procedures on human eggs, sperm and embryos.

 

Clomiphene citrate: Clomifene (INN) or clomiphene (USAN) (also known as Clomifert), marketed as Clomid, is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) that increases production of gonadotropins by inhibiting negative feedback on the hypothalamus. It is used mainly in female infertility, in turn mainly as ovulation induction to reverse oligoovulation or anovulation such as in infertility in polycystic ovary syndrome, as well as being used for ovarian hyperstimulation, such as part of an in vitro fertilisation procedure.

 

Cryopreservation: A drastic reduction of temperature in which metabolic reactions (such those that occur in human cells) cease completely. Because there are no metabolic reactions occurring, cryopreserved tissue is essentially suspended in animation. Storage under these conditions can maintain the integrity of the cells until the patient is ready to use thetissue at a much later date (years or decades in the future). There are several types of cryopreservation protocols, including traditional slow-cooling methods as well as vitrification methods.

 

Donor Insemination: The use of sperm from a male donor in order to achieve a pregnancy.

 

Donor Eggs: Eggs that are taken from a fertile woman and implanted in another woman.

 

Ectopic Pregnancy: When an embryo implants outside the uterus.

 

Egg donation: Extraction of healthy eggs from a third party for subsequent use in IVF.

 

Egg-retrieval surgery: A surgical technique in which eggs are aspirated from the ovaries in preparation for IVF or a related procedure.

 

Egg retrieval: A surgical technique in which eggs are aspirated from the ovaries in preparation for IVF or a related procedure.

 

Egg: A female reproductive cell prior to fertilization .Also called ovum or gamete. See also oocyte.

 

Embryo: A fertilized egg from initial cell division through the first six to eight weeks of gestation. Thereafter, it is known as a fetus.

 

Endocrinology: The study of the body’s hormone-secreting glands.

 

Endometrium (endometrial lining): The lining of the uterus, which grows each month and is sloughed off during the menstrual period or remains intact to nurture an embryo if conception and implantation takes place.

 

Endometrial lining: The lining of the uterus, which grows each month and is sloughed off during the menstrual period or remains intact to nurture an embryo if conception and implantation takesplace.

 

Endometriosis: A cause of infertility, in which the lining of the uterus migrates to other regions of the body, usually in the pelvic region, causing scarring and sometimes damaging the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

 

Endoscopy: A diagnostic surgical procedure to view the pelvic organs (laparoscopy) or inside of the uterus (hysteroscopy) via a small fiber-optic telescope. Therapeutic surgery may be performed during this procedure.

 

Estrogen: A group of female hormones vital for sexual development and reproduction; secreted primarily by the ovaries but also by the adrenal glands and, during pregnancy, by the placenta.

 

Fallopian tubes: Two hollow tubes from the ovaries to the uterus on either side of the uterus where the egg and sperm meet to begin the process of fertilization.

 

Fertility drugs: Medication used to manipulate the menstrual cycle, often in an attempt to recover a larger number of oocytes (eggs) for treatment than would be available without medication.These types of medication can have side effects and are best prescribed by a Reproductive Endocrinologist who specializes in their use. Reproductive Endocrinologists must complete a fellowship after their OB/GYN residency and must pass a board exam to be certified.

 

Follicle: A group of cells forming a cavity in the ovary where the egg grows before it's released during ovulation.

 

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates egg maturation in the ovaries.

 

Gamete: Medical term used to describe both eggs and sperm.

 

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): The injection of one or more eggs mixed with washed sperm into the fallopian tube(s) in the hope that fertilization will occur.

 

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): A reproductive hormone secreted by the hypothalamus, which stimulates the pituitary to secrete FSH and LH.

 

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): Medication used to manipulate the menstrual cycle, often in an attempt to recover a larger number of oocytes (eggs) for treatment than would be available without medication. These types of medication can have side effects and are best prescribed by a Reproductive Endocrinologist who specializes in their use. Reproductive Endocrinologists must complete a fellowship after their OB/GYN residency and must pass a board exam to be certified.

 

Hypothalamus: A small region of the brain that coordinates the function of the nervous and endocrine systems.

 

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): An x-ray that allows the physician to view the size and shape of the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes; also known as the tubal dye test.

 

Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which a thin, telescope-like instrument is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, allowing the doctor to see and photograph the area.

 

In vitro fertilization (IVF): A technique in which eggs are harvested from the ovaries and mixed with sperm in a petri dish and allowed to fertilize. Fertilized eggs or embryos can be cultured for up to 6 days in the laboratory. At that point, embryos or blastocysts are transferred to the uterus. IVF is also known as “test-tube” fertilization; sometimes used as a general term for GIFT, ZIFT, and other types of advanced reproductive technology.

 

Infertility: The inability to become pregnant, or to make a woman pregnant, after one year of trying; or the inability to sustain a pregnancy naturally.

 

Infertility specialist: A medical doctor with advanced training in infertility or reproductive endocrinology.

 

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): A type of artificial insemination in which washed semen is injected into the uterus. (See also Artificial Insemination)

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): A micromanipulation procedure whereby a single sperm is captured in a thin glass needle and injected directly into the egg. ICSI assists fertilization in cases of severe sperm dysfunction.

 

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a rigid tube is inserted into the abdomen, usually through the navel, to allow the doctor to view or treat the reproductive organs.

 

Luteinizing hormone (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary to help stimulate the ovary to mature and release an egg.

 

Male factor: A general term used to describe infertility caused by problems with sperm or its production, such as insufficient numbers, poor motility, odd shape, etc.

 

Morphology: The size and shape of sperm.

 

Motility: The ability of sperm to move by themselves.

 

Micromanipulation: A variety of mechanical procedures which are performed by trained Clinical Embryologists at a specially equipped microscope in order to perform microsurgery on single cellsor embryos.

 

Motility: Term used to describe mobility, or swimming movements, of sperm.

 

Ovaries: Two 3-4 cm spherical structures located in the female pelvis, adjacent to the ends of the fallopian tubes, which release eggs and secrete hormones into the bloodstream.

 

Ovulation: When the ovaries release a mature egg that is ready for fertilization.

 

Oocyte: The female reproductive cell prior to fertilization. See also Egg.

 

Ovulation induction: The stimulation of the ovaries by fertility drugs to release one or more eggs.

 

Pituitary: Known as the “master gland,” the pituitary is located in the base of the brain and is responsible for controlling other endocrine glands, which secrete a variety of hormones,including those involved in reproduction.

 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A common hormonal condition in which an imbalance in the sex hormones may cause menstrual abnormalities, skin and hair changes, obesity, infertility and other long-termhealth problems. The name comes from the multiple small cysts which line the ovaries of most women with the disorder.

 

Premature Ovarian Failure: A condition in which a woman enters menopause before age 40 as a result of the ovaries ceasing ovulation and the production of estrogen.

 

Progesterone: A female sex hormone secreted by the ovaries after ovulation to aid implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus and to continue pregnancy.

 

Semen Analysis: A standard test of a man's semen to check the number and shape of his sperm.

 

Sperm: The main agents of male reproduction, which are produced in the testes and released into the semen.

 

Sperm washing: Laboratory procedures that isolate normally shaped, motile sperm from the semen.

Superovulation: Stimulation of the ovaries, usually done with hormones, that causes them to produce multiple eggs instead of one.

 

Uterus: The womb, the main female reproductive organ.

 

Varicocele: A varicose vein which impedes blood flow out of the testes. If left untreated the testes may overheat which may impair sperm production.

 

Vitrification: A method of cryopreservation where cells are barely dehydrated and temperature change is extremely rapid which improves the cells ability to survive the process and regain metabolic activity upon thawing.

 

Zygote: An early stage in the development of a fertilized egg.

 

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): An ART in which eggs are inseminated in a petri dish and any resultant embryos are transferred to the fallopian tubes.

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