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The a to z of fertility treatment





A.I.D.S -Acquired immune-deficiency syndrome; a disease caused by HIV that destroys the immune system's ability to fight infection.

A.I.D -Artificial Insemination by Donor.

A.I.H -Artificial Insemination by Husband.

Abandoned cycle -IVF cycle cancelled after drug administration has begun but before egg collection.

Abortion, Habitual -A term referring to a condition where a woman has had three or more miscarriages. .

Abortion, Incomplete -An abortion after which some tissue remains inside the uterus. A D&C must be performed to remove the tissue and prevent complications.

Abortion, Missed -An abortion where the fetus dies in the uterus but there is no bleeding or cramping. A D&C will be needed to remove the fetal remains and prevent complications.

Abortion, Spontaneous -A pregnancy loss during the first twenty weeks of gestation. .

Abortion, Therapeutic -A procedure used to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus can survive on its own.

Abortion, Threatened -Spotting or bleeding that occurs early in the pregnancy. That may progress to spontaneous abortion.

Abortion -Pregnancy lost before the fetus can survive independently

Abruption -When the placenta prematurely breaks away from the uterine wall.

Acrosome reaction -Chemical changes that enable a sperm to penetrate an egg. . Normally only about 10% of sperm undergo an acrosome reaction.
Acrosome Cap-like structure on the sperm head and contains enzymes that help penetration of the egg.

Adhesion -In infertility, the sticking of ovaries, tubes, uterus, bowel and abdominal lining to one or more of each other so as to affect fertility. May follow pelvic surgery, tubal infections or endometriosis. Scar tissue occurring in the abdominal cavity, fallopian tubes, or inside the uterus. Adhesions can interfere with transport of the egg and implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

Adrenal Androgens -Male hormones produced by the adrenal gland which, when found in excess, may lead to fertility problems in both men and women.

Adrenal gland -A pair of glands producing hormone.

Agglutination -Clumping sperm together due to infection/ inflammation /antibodies.

Alpha-Fetoprotein A used in a test that assesses the risk (does not diagnose) of neural tube defects and Down Syndrome.

Alpha-fetoprotein Test (AFP) -A blood test performed to evaluate the development of the fetus and to look for fetal abnormalities. Usually given between the 15-20 weeks.

Amenorrhea, Secondary -A term describing a woman who has menstruated at one time, but who has not had a period for six months or more. Amenorrhea -Refers to a woman who has never had a period.

Amniocentesis -This procedure entails drawing a small quantity of amniotic fluid from the sac surrounding the fetus. The particles of the baby's sheds skin cells floating in the water are then tested for fetal abnormalities. A procedure carried out at around 15-16 weeks of pregnancy.

Amniotic Fluid -This protective liquid, consisting mostly of water, fills in the sac surrounding the fetus.

Amniotic Sac -The sac that holds the protective liquid called amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus.

Androgens -Male sex hormones present in both men and women but in different quantities and producing different effects

Andrologist -A specialist in male infertility.

Anemia -An iron deficiency common in pregnancy.
Anesthesiologist -A doctor who administers drugs like an epidural.

Anomaly -Malformation or abnormality in any part of the baby.

Anovulation -Failure to ovulate.

Antibodies -Chemicals made by the body to fight or attack foreign substances entering the body. Normally they prevent infection; however, when they attack the sperm or fetus, they cause infertility. Sperm antibodies may be made by either the man or the woman.

Antibody -In infertility, a compound in the blood, mucus or semen which interferes with normal sperm function.

Antisperm Antibodies -Antibodies are produced by the immune system to fight off foreign substances,like bacteria. Antisperm antibodies attach themselves to sperm and inhibit movement and their ability to fertilize.

ART -Assisted reproductive technology. The spectrum of methods used to help the infertile couple.

Artificial insemination (AI) -Placing washed sperm into the female reproductive tract via a catheter to fertilize in natuarl environment.

Artificial Insemination Donor (AID) -Artificial insemination with donor sperm. A fresh donor semen specimen or a thawed frozen specimen is injected next to the woman's cervix.

Artificial Insemination Homologous (AIH) -Artificial insemination with the husband's sperm. The sperm is washed and injected directly into the wife's uterus.

Aspermia -Absence of semen.

Assisted hatching -The mechanical, chemical or laser breaching of the gel like coating of the egg (zona pellucida).

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) -Several procedures employed to bring about conception without sexual intercourse, including IUI, GIFT and ZIFT.

Asthenozoospermia -Low sperm motility.

Asymptomatic -Without any symptoms.

Atresia- 1) Degeneration and resorption of a follicle before it reaches maturity and ruptures.2) degeneration of cells.

Azoospermia -Semen containing no sperm, either because the testicles cannot make sperm or because of blockage in the reproductive tract.



Bacterial Vaginosis -Infection A vaginal infection that causes a burning sensation and a gray, malodorous discharge. May interfere with fertility.
Basal body temperature (BBT) chart -Chart measuring temperature used to predict the time of ovulation.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) -Your body temperature when taken at its lowest point, usually in the morning before getting out of bed. Charting BBT is used to predict ovulation.

Beta hCG -test Blood test used to detect early pregnancy.

Bicornuate Uterus -A congenital malformation of the uterus where the upper portion (horn) is duplicated or separated by a membrane. A known cause of pregnancy loss or threatened miscarriage. Depending on severity this can be surgically corrected.

Biochemical Pregnancy -Is a positive hCG blood test with no evidence of a gestation sac on Ultrasound.

Biopsy -The removal of a piece of tissue for microscopic examination.

Blastocoel -The fluid filled cavity in a blastocyst stage embryo.

Blastocyst transfer -The transfer of embryos at the blastocyst stage after IVF.

Blastocyst -Stage of embryo development just before implantation the embryo consists of an outer thin layer of cells, which later develops to placenta and an inner cell mass later develops to fetus.

Blastomere -The identical cells of the pre implantation embryo as a result of cell division of the fertilized egg.

Blighted ovum -Fertilized oocyte that fails to develop properly after implantation. Gestation sac develops in the absence of an embryo.

Buserelin -Is a GnRh agonist drug used as a nasal spray or by daily injection.It can also be used to treat fibroid tumors, PMS, hirsutism, ovulation induction and for in vitro



Candidiasis (Yeast) -An infection that may be uncomfortable and causes itchyness.May impair fertility.

Capacitation -A process that sperm undergo as they travel through the woman's reproductive tract. Capacitation enables the sperm to penetrate the egg.

CASA -Computer aided sperm assessment ? using a computer to perform a semen analysis.

Catheter -A small, flexible tube. 1) Catheters are commonly used in epidurals and when a woman cannot urinate (a catheter is placed up the urethra and into the bladder)--commonly referred to as "being cathed." 2) A fine tubing especially developed for the transporting of eggs, sperm or embryos into the woman's fallopian tubes or uterus.

Cerclage -a surgical method for closing an incompetent cervix during pregnancy to prevent premature delivery.

Cervical Mucus -Secretions produced by the cervix that, at the time of ovulation, assist the passage of sperm through the cervix.

Cervical smear (PAP smear) -A screening test for cancer.A sample of the cervical mucus examined microscopically to assess the presence of estrogen (ferning) and white blood cells, indicating possible infection.

Cervical Stenosis -A blockage of the cervical canal from a congenital defect or from complications of surgical procedures.

Cervicitis -Inflammation of the cervix.

Cervix, Incompetent -A weakened cervix, which opens up prematurely during pregnancy and can cause the loss of the fetus. A CERVICAL CERCLAGE is a procedure in which a stitch or two is put around the cervix to prevent its opening until removed when the pregnancy is to term.

Cervix -The lower part of the uterus that connects with the vagina.

Cetrotide -Injectable medication given to prevent spontaneous ovulation.

Chemotherapy -The use of drugs to treat or control cancer.

Chlamydia -A sexually transmitted disease, it is a common cause of infection and subsequent tubal damage and infertility.

Chocolate (endometriosis) cyst -A cyst inside the ovary filled with old brown coloured blood.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) -A procedure to test the fetus for genetic abnormalities which involves taking a biopsy from the placenta. It is usually carried out under ultrasound scan at about eleven weeks of pregnancy.

Chromosomes -Cell structures that lie inside the nucleus. A human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes containing genetic material.

Cilia -Tiny hairlike projections lining the inside surface of the fallopian tubes. The waving action of these "hairs" sweeps the egg toward the uterus.

Clinical Pregnancy -A positive hCG blood test and the presence of a foetal heartbeat at Ultrasound.

Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid) A- fertility drug that stimulates ovulation through the release of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland."

Clone -A group of cells/embryos or individuals that are genetically identical.

Coitus Intercourse-the sexual union between a man and a woman.

Conception -Fertilization.

Conceptus -The early products of conception; the embryo and placenta.

Cone Biopsy -A surgical procedure used to remove precancerous cells from the cervix. The procedure may damage the cervix and thus disrupt normal mucus production or cause an incompetent cervix, which may open prematurely during pregnancy.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia -A congenital condition characterized by elevated androgens which suppress the pituitary gland and interfere with spermatogenesis or ovulation. Women may have ambiguous genitalia from the excess production of male hormone.

Congenital -A defect existing since birth.

Contraceptive, Oral -A medication that prevents ovulation and pregnancy. Up to 3 percent of women taking the Pill will become anovulatory when they stop taking it. The regulatory effects of the Pill can also disguise symptoms of fertility problems-- for example, an irregular cycle or endometriosis. May be used to control the symptoms and development of endometriosis.

Corpus Luteum -The yellow-pigmented glandular structure that forms from the ovarian follicle following ovulation. The gland produces progesterone, which is responsible for preparing and supporting the uterine lining for implantation.

Cryopreservation -The storage at a low temperature (-196°C)of sperm, embryos or eggs by freezing .

Cryptorchidism -Failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum.

Cumulus -The protective layer of cells surrounding the egg.

Cyst -A fluid filled sac.

Cystic fibrosis -A common genetic disease. It affects the lungs, bowels, pancreas, sweat glands etc.

Cytomegalovirus infection-Viral Infection. Primary infection of the mother during pregnancy may result in the death of the fetus or mental retardation.



D&C (Dilation and Curettage) -A procedure used to dilate the cervical canal and scrape out the lining and contents of the uterus. The procedure can be used to diagnose or treat the cause of abnormal bleeding and to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

Diagnostic laparoscopy -The insertion of a fibre optic telescope into the abdomen to look for abnormalities of the internal pelvic organs.

Dilation -The amount the cervix has opened in preparation for childbirth, dilation is measured in centimeters or, less accurately, in "fingers." "Fully dilated" means you're at 10 centimeters and are ready to push.

DIPI -Direct intraperitoneal insemination. This is the injection of washed and prepared sperm into the peritoneal cavity under ultrasound guidance.

Dizygotic twins -twins from two seperate eggs fertilized by seperate sperm.

Donor Egg -Eggs taken from one woman and donated to another.

Donor insemination -The insemination of donor sperm into the vagina, the cervix, the womb, the tube or peritoneum.

Donor Sperm -Sperm produced from a man who is not the woman's partner to be used for artificial insemination or for IVF/GIFT.

Doppler -A ultrasound to listen to the fetal heart.

Down Regulation -This refers to "shutting off" the messages from the pituitary gland (part of the brain) to the ovary that enables complete control over the events in a cycle. Suppression of the natural secretion of gonadotropins by using GnRh analogues.

Down's syndrome -A genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome(trisomy) 21.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy -An inherited sex-linked muscular disease.

Dysfunctional -Abnormal function.

Dysmenorrhea -Painful menstruation. This may be a sign of endometriosis.

Dyspareunia -Painful coitus for either the man or the woman.



Ectopic Pregnancy -A pregnancy in which the fertilised egg implants anywhere but in the uterine cavity, usually in the fallopian tubes, or rarely the ovary or the abdominal cavity.

Ectopic pregnancy -A pregnancy outside the uterine cavity.

Egg collection (E.C) -Oocyte pick up The procedure by which eggs are collected from the woman's ovaries.

Egg donor -A woman who donates her eggs.

Egg recipient -A woman who receives embryos created with donor eggs.

Egg Retrieval -A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for use in in vitro fertilization. The procedure may be performed during laparoscopy(rarely nowadays) or by using a intra-vaginal needle and ultrasound to locate the follicle in the ovary.

Ejaculate (semen) -The sperm and the seminal fluid that comes out of the urethra when a man has an orgasm.

Ejaculation -The physiological process by which the semen is propelled from the testicles, through the reproductive tract, and out the opening of the penis.

Ejaculatory ducts -A pair of ducts; each formed by the joining of a seminal vesicle with a vas deferens.

Embryo -A fertilized egg up to eight weeks of development.The early products of conception; fertilized egg; the conceptus.

Embryo Cryopreservation -The freezing of embryos.

Embryo donor -A couple who donate their spare embryos to either infertile couples or for research purposes.

Embryo recipient -A woman who receives one or more donated embryos.

Embryo Transfer (ET) T-he placement of embryos into the uterus using a fine catheter.

Endometrial Biopsy -A test to check for Luteal Phase Defect. A procedure during which a sample of the uterine lining is collected for microscopic analysis. The biopsy results will confirm ovulation and the proper preparation of the endometrium by estrogen and progesterone stimulation

Endometriosis -A presence of endometrial tissue (the normal uterine lining) in abnormal locations such as the tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity

Endometrium -The lining of the womb, which undergoes cyclical changes during the menstrual cycle.

Endorphins -Natural narcotics manufactured in the brain to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress. May contribute to stress-related fertility problems.

Epididymis -A coiled, tubular organ attached to and lying on the testicle. Within this organ the developing sperm complete their maturation and develop their swimming capabilities. The matured sperm leave the epididymis through the vas deferens.

Epididymitis -Inflammation of the epididymis

 Estradiol(Oestradiol)-The female hormone produced in the ovary. Responsible for formation of the female secondary sex characteristics such as large breasts; supports the growth of the follicle and the development of the uterine lining. At midcycle the peak estrogen level triggers the release of the LH spike from the pituitary gland. The LH spike is necessary for the release of the ovum from the follicle. Fat cells in both obese men and women can also manufacture estrogen from androgens and interfere with fertility.

Estrogen Female sex hormone.



Fallopian tubes (ovi ducts)-Two narrow "tubes" leading from either side of the uterus to the ovaries.Fertilisation occurs in the outer end of the tube. Eggs travel to the uterus once released from the follicle via these tubes.

Ferning -A pattern characteristic of dried cervical mucus viewed on a slide. When the fern pattern appears, the mucus has been thinned and prepared by estrogen for the passage of sperm. If it does not fern, the mucus will be hostile to the passage of the sperm.

Fertilisation -The penetration of the egg by the sperm to initiate embryo development. Normally occurs inside the fallopian tube (in vivo) but may also occur in a petri dish (in vitro).

Fertility Treatment A-ny method or procedure used to enhance fertility or increase the likelihood of pregnancy, such as ovulation induction treatment, varicocoele repair, and microsurgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes. Theaim of fertility treatment is to help couples have a child.

Fertility Workup T-he initial medical examinations and tests performed to diagnose or narrow down the cause of fertility problems.

Fetal Distress -When the baby is not getting enough oxygen or is experiencing some other complication. Immediate delivery may be required.

Fetus (foetus) -A term used to refer to a baby during the period of gestation between eight weeks and term.

Fibroids Benign -tumor made of uterine muscle and connective tissue.

Fimbria -The opening of the fallopian tube near the ovary. The fingerlike ends grasp the ovary and coax the egg into the tube.

Fimbriated Ends -The fringed and flaring outer ends of the fallopian tubes that pick up the egg from the ovary.

FISH -Method of staining, detecting and analysing Chromosomes

Flow cytometry -A contraversial method of sperm sorting used for sex selection. X and Y chromosome bearing sperm are stained with different flourescent dyes and then can be sorted by colour.

Foetus -The developing human after embryo stage from the ninth week of pregnancy to birth.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) -A hormone naturally produced by the pituitary gland which is essential for the growth of ovarian follicles in the woman and sperm production in the man. Elevated FSH levels are indicative of gonadal failure in both men and woman.

Follicle -A fluid filled cyst in the ovary in which the egg develops.

Follicular Fluid -The fluid inside the follicle that cushions and nourishes the ovum. When released during ovulation, the fluid stimulates the fimbria to grasp the ovary and coax the egg into the fallopian tube.

Follicular Phase -The pre-ovulatory half of a woman's cycle during which a follicle grows and high levels of estrogen cause the lining of the uterus to proliferate. Normally takes 12 and 14 days.

FSH -Follicle stimulating hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland. It stimulates the growth of follicles in the female, and sperm production in the male.

Fundus -The upper region of the uterus. The Fallopian tube open into the opposite corners of the fundus.




Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) -A technique that may be used instead of in vitro fertilization for women with patent tubes. After egg retrieval the eggs are mixed with the husband's sperm and then injected through the fimbria into the woman's fallopian tubes for in vivo fertilization.

Gamete -The male or female reproductive cells, the sperm or the egg.

Ganarelix -An injectable medication given to prevent spontaneous ovulation.

Genitals -The external sex organs, as the labia and clitoris in the woman and the penis and testicles in the man. Also called genitalia.

Germ Cell Aplasia (Sertoli Cell Only) -A condition in which the testicles have no germ cells. Since men with this condition have normal Leydig cells, they will develop secondary sex characteristics. May also be caused by large and/or prolonged exposure to toxins or radiation.

Germ Cell (male) -is the testicular cell that divides to produce the immature sperm cells; (female) the ovarian cell that divides to form the egg (ovum).

Germinal Vesicle -Structure present in an immature oocyte. The nucleus has not undergone its final meiotic division to produce a haploid cell (containing half the number of chromosomes)

Gn-RH Antagonist -A drug used to suppress spontaneous ovulation during ART cycle.

Gonad -The gland that makes reproductive cells and "sex" hormones, as the testicles, which make sperm and testosterone, and the ovaries, which make eggs (ova) and estrogen.

Gonadotrophin -A hormone that is capable of stimulating the testicles or ovaries to produce sperm or egg respectively.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) -A substance secreted by the hypothalamus. This hormone enables the pituitary to secrete LH and FSH, which stimulate the gonads.

Gonadotropins -Hormones which control reproductive function: Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Lutenizing Hormone.

Gonal F -A fertility drug given by injection and consists of a highly purified FSH.

Gonorrhea -An infection that is usually asymptomatic, but that may cause a yellowish vaginal discharge and red and swollen vaginal walls. If it reaches the fallopian tubes, the woman will suffer pain, develop a high fever, and possibly develop tubal blockage. The responsible organism may also impair sperm and prevent pregnancy. In the man gonorrhea seldom leads to damage, but it may cause a painful infection.



Hamster Test -A test of the ability of sperm to penetrate a hamster egg which has been stripped of the Zona Pellucida (outer membrane). Also called SPERM PENETRATION ASSAY (SPA).

Hirsutism -The overabundance of body hair, such as a mustache or pubic hair growing upward toward the navel, found in women with excess androgens.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Antibodies Test- Test for exposure to the AIDS virus. A positive test does not necessarily mean that exposure to AIDS has occurred or that the person has or will get AIDS. A positive test may mean that the antibody is present in the blood, which means that, even though the person may not be sick, he/she may still infect others.

Hormone Assay -The measurement of hormones present in the blood.

Hormone -A chemical produced by an endocrine gland in the body that circulates in the blood and has widespread action throughout the body.

Host Uterus -Also called "surrogate mother." A couple's embryo is transferred to another woman who carries the pregnancy to term and returns the baby to the genetic parents immediately after birth.

Hostile Mucus -Cervical mucus that impedes the natural progress of sperm through the cervical canal.

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) -A hormone secreted by the placenta in pregnancy that prolongs the life of the corpus luteum and thus preserves the pregnancy. The hormone accounts for pregnancy tests being positive. It may also be administered therapeutically in some infertility problems and is used in the IVF treatment cycles to trigger ovulation by mimicking the action of LH.

Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (HMG - PERGONAL, HUMEGON) -A combination of hormones FSH and LH, which is extracted from the urine of post-menopausal women. Used to induce ovulation in several fertility treatments.

Humegon (HMG) -The lutenizing and follicle-stimulating hormones recovered from the urine of post-menopausal women. Used to stimulate multiple ovulation in some fertility treatments.

Hyperprolactinemia -A condition in which the pituitary gland secretes too much prolactin. Prolactin suppresses LH and FSH production, reduces sex drive in the man, and directly suppresses ovarian function in the woman.

Hyperstimulation (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, OHSS) -A potentially life-threatening side effect of ovulation induction treatment. Arises when too many follicles develop and hCG is given to release the eggs. May be prevented by withholding the hCG injection when ultrasound monitoring indicates that too many follicles have matured.

Hyperthyroidism -Overproduction of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. The resulting increased metabolism "burns up" estrogen too rapidly and interferes with ovulation.

Hypoestrogenic -Having lower than normal levels of estrogen.

Hypogonadotropic Hypopituitarism -A range of diseases resulting in low pituitary gland output of LH and FSH. Men with this disorder have low sperm counts and may lose their virility; women do not ovulate and may lose their secondary sex characteristics.

Hypospermatogenesis -Low sperm production.

Hypothalamus -An area of the brain, the hormonal regulation center, located adjacent to and above the pituitary gland. In both the man and the woman this tissue secretes GnRH . The release of GnRH enables the pituitary gland to secrete LH and FSH, which stimulate the gonads.

Hypothyroidism -A condition in which the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of thyroid hormone. The resulting lowered metabolism interferes with the normal breakdown of hormones and causes lethargy. Men will suffer from a lower sex drive and elevated prolactin, and women will suffer from elevated prolactin and estrogen, both of which will interfere with fertility.

Hysterectomy -The surgical removal of the uterus. May also include the removal of other reproductive structures, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) -An x-ray of the pelvic organs in which a dye is injected through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes. This test checks for malformations of the uterus and blockage of the fallopian tubes.

Hysteroscopy -A procedure in which the doctor checks for uterine abnormalities by inserting a fiber-optic device. Minor surgical repairs can be executed during the procedure.



ICSI -This term refers to the direct injection of a single sperm into the cytoplasm of the egg thus the term ICSI refers to Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. The microinjection procedure is used for the more severe forms of male infertility or after a cycle with poor fertilisation.

Immature Sperm (Germinal Cell) -A sperm that has not matured and gained the ability to swim. In the presence of illness sperm may appear in the semen in large numbers.

Implantation (Embryo) -The embedding of the embryo into tissue so it can establish contact with the mother's blood supply for nourishment. Implantation usually occurs in the lining of the uterus; however, in an ectopic pregnancy it may occur elsewhere in the body.

Impotence -The inability of the man to have an erection and to ejaculate.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) -IVF is the procedure by which the egg from a female partner and the sperm from a male partner are mixed in the laboratory. Afterwards the embryos are transferred into the uterus (womb) of the female.

Infertility T-he inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term.

 Inhibin -A male feedback hormone made in the testicles to regulate FSH production by the pituitary gland.

Inhibin-F (Folliculostatin)-A female feedback hormone made in the ovary to regulate FSH production by the pituitary gland.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)-A micromanipulation procedure where a single sperm is injected into the egg to enable fertilization.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) -The placement of prepared sperm into the womb using a fine catheter.

IUD (Intrauterine Device) -A device placed into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUD insertion has been associated with an increased incidence of infection, which may damage the fallopian tubes.




Karyotype -The chromosomal characteristics of a cell.

Karyotyping -A test performed to analyze chromosomes for the presence of genetic defects.

Klinefelter's Syndrome -A genetic abnormality characterized by having one Y (male) and two X (female) chromosomes. May cause a fertility problem.



Laparoscope -A small telescope that can be inserted into the abdominal wall for viewing the internal organs. Used to diagnose and treat a number of fertility problems including endometriosis, abdominal adhesions, and polycystic ovaries. Also used in the past for egg retrieval for in vitro fertilization.

Laparoscopy -Examination of the pelvic region by using a small telescope called a laparoscope.

Laparotomy -Major abdominal surgery where reproductive organ abnormalities can be corrected and fertility restored, such as tubal repairs and the removal of adhesions.

Leydig Cell -The testicular cell that produces the male hormone testosterone. The Leydig cell is stimulated by LH from the pituitary gland.

LH Surge -The release of large amounts of Luteinising Hormone (LH) that triggers ovulation in a normal menstrual cycle.

Luteal Phase Defect (or deficiency) (LPD) -A condition that occurs when the uterine lining does not develop adequately because of inadequate progesterone stimulation; or because of the inability of the uterine lining to respond to progesterone stimulation. LPD may prevent embryonic implantation or cause an early abortion.

Luteal Phase Post-ovulatory phase of a woman's cycle. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which causes the uterine lining to thicken to support the implantation and growth of the embryo.

Luteinising Hormone (LH) -A hormone secreted by the pituitary. Its main function is to mature and release the egg (LH surge).

Luteinized Unruptured Follicle (LUF) Syndrome -A condition in which the follicle develops and changes into the corpus luteum without releasing the egg.

 Luteinizing Hormone Surge (LH SURGE) -The release of luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes release of a mature egg from the follicle. Ovulation test kits detect the sudden increase of LH, signaling that ovulation is about to occur (usually within 24-36 hours).



Male Factor -When the male sperm is below normal limits and special techniques are required to prepare the semen for fertilisation.

MAR -Mixed Agglutination Reaction, a test to check for the presence or absence of antisperm antibodies.

Masturbation -A technique used to collect semen for analysis and for artificial insemination; manual stimulation of the penis leading to ejaculation.

Maturation Arrest -A testicular condition in which at one stage of sperm production all sperm development halts throughout all testicular tubules. May result in oligospermia or azoospermia.

Meiosis T-he cell division, peculiar to reproductive cells, which allows genetic material to divide in half. Each new cell will contain twenty-three chromosomes. The spermatids (immature sperm) and ova (eggs) each contain twenty-three chromosomes, so when they combine (fertilize), the baby will have a normal complement of forty-six.

Menopause -When the ovaries stop ovulating.Characterized by absence of periods, hot flushes, sweating and mood changes.

Menstrual cycle -A cycle of events that occur in the female genital system each month.

Menstruation -The cyclical shedding of the uterine lining in response to stimulation from estrogen and progesterone.

Menstruation -The monthly bleed (shedding of endometrial wall) which takes place when no pregnancy occurs.

MESA -Micro Epididymal Sperm Aspiration. Aspiration of sperm from the epididymis.

Metrodin ( FSH) -An injectable form of Follicle Stimulating Hormone used to stimulate ovulation.

Methotrexate -a toxic anticancer drug that is an analogue of folic acid. Sometimes used to treat ectopic and molar pregnancies.

Microinjection (ICSI) -The direct injection of a sperm into the substance of the egg to produce a fertilisation. This technique is used when there are very few sperm in the ejaculate, when the sperm show poor motility or abnormal structure or have been obtained from the testis or have previously failed to fertilise in conventional IVF treatments. This technique is also called ICSI.

Micromanipulation T-he handeling, injection, dissectionof eggs and embryos under the microscope using specialized instruments (micromanipulators).

Microsurgery -Surgery performed under magnification

Miscarriage -Loss of pregnancy from the womb before it is capable of surviving independently outside the womb.

Mitosis -The division of a cell into two identical cells in which all forty-six human chromosomes are duplicated; the first division of the germ cell.

Molar pregnancy (trophoblastic disease) -Probably caused by a chromosomal abnormality in the fertilized egg. The placenta develops into a nonmalignant tumor called a hydatidiform mole.. A molar pregnancy is treated by a D&C and sometimes methotrexate.

Monozygotic twins -Twins from a single fertilized egg. Identical twins.

Morula -Stage of embryo development when it forms a ball of cells (approx 4 days after fertilisation).

Motility -The percentages of moving sperm in a semen sample.

Multiple birth rate -All births % in which more than one baby was born.

Multiple birth -Birth of more than one baby from one pregnancy.

Multiple pregnancy -Pregnancies in which two or more fetal hearts are present.

Mycoplasma A-n infection that may cause the formation of sperm antibodies and an inflammation of the uterine lining, either of which may interfere with implantation of the embryo.

 Myomectomy -Surgical removal of a fibroid.

Myometrium T-he muscular layer of the uterus.



Necrozoospermia -When all sperm in the ejaculate are dead.

Neonatal death- The death of a baby within 28 days of delivery.

Nucleus -The part of each cell that contains the genetic material.



OATS -Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia means low sperm count, low sperm motility and a high proportion of abnormal sperm.

Oestradiol (Estradiol)-The most active naturally occurring estrogens in humans.

Oestrogens (Estrogens) -Female sex hormones, a group of hormones that are produced by the ovaries. They are essential for the reproductive system preparing the endometrium and regulating the production of FSH and LH.

OHSS -Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. A rare side effect with fertility drugs. It is characterized by swollen, painful ovaries and the accumulation of fluid in body cavities.

Oligomenorrhea -Infrequent menstrual periods.

Oligoovulation -Infrequent ovulation.

Oligozoospermia -Low sperm count (<20 million per ml).

Oocyte -The egg cell produced in the ovary, also called ovum, egg or gamete.

Oophorectomy-The surgical removal of one or both ovaries.

Orgalutran-An injectable medication given to prevent spontaneous ovulation.

Os -Openings (External and internal) at each end of the cervical canal.

Ovarian cyst -A fluid-filled sac inside the ovary.

Ovarian Cyst -A fluid-filled sac inside the ovary. An ovarian cyst may be found in conjunction with ovulation disorders, tumors of the ovary, and endometriosis. See also Chocolate Cyst.

Ovarian Failure -The failure of the ovary to respond to FSH stimulation from the pituitary because of damage to or malformation of the ovary. Diagnosed by elevated FSH in the blood.

Ovaries -The two female sex glands which produce hormones and release

Ovulation Induction -The use of medication to promote ovulation in women who normally do not ovulate. The use of fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation.

Ovulation -The release of an egg from its follicle.

Ovulation -The release of the egg (ovum) from the ovarian follicle.

Ovulatory cycle -A cycle of events that occur within the ovary each month and result in the release of an egg.

Ovulatory Failure (Anovulation)-The failure to ovulate.

Ovum -The egg; the reproductive cell from the ovary; the female gamete; the sex cell that contains the woman's genetic information.

Oxytocin -The hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates contractions and the milk-eject reflex (let-down). Pitocin is the synthetic form of this hormone.




Papanicolaou Smear (Pap smear) An important screening test for cancer of the cervix. This painless test is recommended every two years for all women. Women having IVF/GIFT treatment must continue to have these tests, as they are not performed as a routine part of treatment for infertility.

Patent -The condition of being open, as with tubes that form part of the reproductive organs.

PCR- Method of amplifying small amounts of DNA for genetic analysis.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) -An infection of the pelvic organs that causes severe illness, high fever, and extreme pain. PID may lead to tubal blockage and pelvic adhesions.
pH -Scale of acididity and alkalidity. pH 7 being neutral, maximum acidity, maximum alkalidity 14

Pituitary Gland -The master gland; the gland that is stimulated by the hypothalamus and controls all hormonal functions. Located at the base of the brain just below the hypothalamus, this gland controls many major hormonal factories throughout the body including the gonads, the adrenal glands, and the thyroid gland.

Pituitary -A gland located at the base of the human brain that secretes a number of important hormones related to normal growth, development and reproduction.

Placenta -The embryonic tissue that invades the uterine wall and provides a mechanism for exchanging the baby's waste products for the mother's nutrients and oxygen. The baby is connected to the placenta by the umbilical cord.

Polar Body -The discarded genetic material resulting from female germ cell division. See also Meiosis.

Polycystic Ovaries (PCO ) -A condition found in women who don't ovulate, characterized by excessive production of androgens (male sex hormones) and the presence of cysts in the ovaries. Though PCO can be without symptoms, some include excessive weight gain, acne and excessive hair growth.

Post Coital Test (PCT) -A microscopic examination of the cervical mucus best performed twelve or more hours after intercourse to determine compatibility between the woman's mucus and the man's semen; a test used to detect sperm-mucus interaction problems, the presence of sperm antibodies, and the quality of the cervical mucus.

Polyspermic fertilization -Abnormal fertilization caused by one or more sperm penetrating the egg at the same time.

Precision Embryology: being the adoption of all the newest IVF techniques to produce a treatment strategy more personalised with better timing of embryo transfer.

Preimplantation embryo -The fertilized egg until implantation into the uterus wall.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) -The genetic diagnosis of inherited disorders in embryos generated after IVF before embryo transfer. Diagnosis occurs before implantation and healthy embryos are transferred to the mother.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) -The genetic screening for abnormal embryos generated after IVF before embryo transfer. Diagnosis occurs before implantation and healthy embryos are transferred to the mother. Also can be used for sex determination and sex selection of embryos.

Premature Ejaculation -A condition in which the man becomes so sexually excited that most of the time he ejaculates prior to penetrating the woman's vagina.

Premature Ovarian Failure -A condition where the ovary runs out of follicles before the normal age associated with menopause.

Progesterone Pessaries -A wax capsule containing progesterone which is inserted into the vagina to supplement the body's naturally produced progesterone. These pessaries are usually prescribed during IVF/GIFT treatment.

Progesterone Withdrawal -A diagnostic procedure used to analyze menstrual irregularity and amenorrhea; uterine "bleeding" that occurs within two weeks after taking progesterone; a procedure used to demonstrate the presence or absence of estrogen and to demonstrate the ability of the uterus and reproductive tract to "bleed." Prior to ovulation induction therapy, progesterone withdrawal may be used to induce a menstrual period.

Progesterone -Hormone produced by corpus luteum after ovulation and the placenta during pregnancy. Progesterone is important for its role in preparing the lining of the womb for implantation of the fertilised egg.

Prolactin -The hormone that stimulates the production of milk in breastfeeding women. Excessive prolactin levels when not breastfeeding may result in infertility.

Pronuclei -The first 2 nuclei of the fertilized egg and an indication that fertilization has occurred. The 2 pronuclei are the cell structures containing the chromosomes of the sperm and the egg. These fuse to create the embryo's genetic material containing the normal (diploid) number of 46 chromosomes.

Prostaglandin -A hormone secreted by the uterine lining. It is hypothesized that prostaglandins secreted by active, young endometrial implants may interfere with the reproductive organs by causing muscular contractions or spasms.

Prostate Gland -A gland in the male reproductive system that produces a portion of the semen including a chemical that liquefies the coagulated semen twenty minutes to go one hour after entering the vagina.

 Puberty -The time of life when the body begins making adult levels of sex hormones - (estrogen or testosterone) and the youngster takes on adult body characteristics: developing breasts, growing a beard, pubic hair, and auxiliary hair; attaining sexual maturity.

Puregon -A fertility drug given by injection and consists of a highly purified FSH.





Resistant Ovary -An ovary that cannot respond to the follicle-stimulating message sent by FSH.

Retrograde Ejaculation- A male fertility problem that allows the sperm to travel into the bladder instead of out the opening of the penis due to a failure in the sphincter muscle at the base of the bladder.



Salpingectomy -Surgical removal of the fallopian tube.

Salpingostomy -Surgical repair made to the fallopian tubes; a procedure used to open the fimbria.

Scrotum -The bag of skin surrounding the man's testicles.

Secondary Infertility -The inability of a couple which has successfully achieved pregnancy to achieve another. This strict medical definition includes couples for whom the pregnancy did not go to term.

Semen Analysis -A laboratory test used to assess semen quality: sperm quantity, concentration, morphology , and motility. In addition, it measures semen (fluid) volume and whether or not white blood cells are present, indicating an infection.

Semen Viscosity -The liquid flow or consistency of the semen.

Semen -The fluid portion of the ejaculate consisting of secretions from the seminal vesicles, prostate gland, and several other glands in the male reproductive tract. The semen provides nourishment and protection for the sperm and a medium in which the sperm can travel to the woman's vagina. Semen may also refer to the entire ejaculate, including the sperm.

Seminal Vesicles -Glands in the male reproductive system which produce much of the semen volume, including fructose for nourishing the sperm and a chemical that causes the semen to coagulate on entering the vagina.

Seminiferous Tubes -The testicular tubules in which the sperm mature and move toward the epididymis.

Septate uterus- A uterus divided into right and left halves by a wall of tissue (septum). Women with a septate uterus have an increased chance of early pregnancy loss.

Sertoli Cell- A testicular nurse cell responsible for nurturing the spermatids (immature sperm). Secretes inhibin, a feedback hormone, which regulates FSH production by the pituitary gland. When stimulated by FSH, the Sertoli cell initiates spermatogenesis.

Sertoli Cell Only -An inherited condition in which the testicles have no germ cells. Since men with this condition have normal Leydig cells, they will develop secondary sex characteristics. May also be caused by large and/or prolonged exposure to toxins or radiation.

Sonogram -Ultrasound

Speculum A metal or plastic instrument used to open the vagina slightly so that the cervix can be seen more easily

Sperm Agglutination -Sperm clumping caused by antibody reactions or by infection.

Sperm Antibodies -Antibodies that attack and destroy sperm. May be formed by either the man against his own sperm or by the woman against her husband's sperm.

Sperm Bank -A place where sperm are kept frozen in liquid nitrogen for later use in artificial insemination.

Sperm Count- The number of sperm in ejaculate. Also called sperm concentration and given as the number of sperm per milliliter (ml).

Sperm Maturation- process during which the sperm grow and gain their ability to swim. Sperm take about ninety days to reach maturity.

Sperm Morphology- A semen analysis factor that indicates the number or percentage of sperm in the sample that appear to have been formed normally. Abnormal morphology includes sperm with kinked, doubled, or coiled tails.

Sperm Motility -The ability of sperm to swim. Poor motility means the sperm have a difficult time swimming toward their goal---the egg.

Sperm Penetration -The ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg so it can deposit the genetic material during fertilization.

Sperm -The microscopic cells that carries the male's genetic information to the female's egg; the male reproductive cell; the male gamete.

Spermatogenesis Sperm production in the testicles.

Sperm-Zona Binding Sperm must bind to the zona before they can fertilise. Tests have been developed to determine whether this function is taking place.

Split Ejaculate -A method of collecting a semen specimen so that the first half of the ejaculate is caught in one container and the rest in a second container. The first half may contain the vast majority of the sperm, which can then be used to inseminate the woman.

Stillbirth-The death of a fetus between the twentieth week of gestation and birth.

Superovulation-Stimulation of multiple ovulation with fertility drugs; also known as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH).

Surrogate MotherA woman who is artificially inseminated or and carries to term a baby which will be raised by its genetic father and his partner.Also called host uterus.



TESA/ TESE A minor surgical procedure used to take a small sample of testicular tissue for microscopic examination.The removal of testicular tissue from men with very poor sperm production and the isolation of sperm for ICSI

Testicle -The male sex gland that produces testosterone and sperm.

Testicular Biopsy (TESA) (TESE) -A minor surgical procedure used to take a small sample of testicular tissue for microscopic examination.

Testicular Failure, Primary -A congenital, developmental, or genetic error resulting in a testicular malformation that prevents sperm production.

Testicular Failure Secondary -Acquired testicular damage, for example, from drugs, prolonged exposure to toxic substances, or a varicocoele.

Testicular Feminization -An enzymatic defect that prevents a man from responding to the male hormone testosterone. The man will look like a woman, but karyotyping will reveal a normal XY male chromosome pattern, and testosterone levels will be in the normal male range.

Testicular Function -The ability of the testicles to produce sperm and testosterone.

Testosterone -The male hormone responsible for the formation of secondary sex characteristics and for supporting the sex drive. Testosterone is also necessary for spermatogenesis.

Thyroid Gland -The endocrine gland in the front of the neck that produces thyroid hormones to regulate the body's metabolism.

Torsion -The twisting of the testis inside the scrotum. Besides causing extreme pain and swelling, the rotation twists off the blood supply and causes severe damage to the testicle. Torsion of the ovary may also occur in a woman suffering from hyperstimulation.

Toxoplasmosis -This disease is caused by an organism found in raw and rare meat, garden soil and cat feces. It is typically not harmful to adults, but can cause injury to the fetus and placenta.

Trisomy a cell with an extra chromosome.

Turner's Syndrome -The most common genetic defect contributing to female fertility problems. The ovaries fail to form and appear as slender threads of atrophic ovarian tissue, referred to as streak ovaries. Karyotyping will reveal that this woman has only one female (X) chromosome instead of two.



Ultrasound -This test uses sound waves to view and examine the fetus or view the internal organs.

Umbilical Cord -The cord that carries blood, oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the placenta during pregnancy.

Undescended Testicles (Cryptorchidism)- The failure of the testicles to descend from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum by one year of age. If not repaired by age six, may result in permanent fertility loss.

Unicornuate Uterus An abnormality in which the uterus is "one sided" and smaller than usual.

Ureaplasma (Mycoplasma) -An infection that may cause the formation of sperm antibodies and an inflammation of the uterine lining, either of which may interfere with implantation of the embryo.

Urethra -The tube that allows urine to pass between the bladder and the outside of the body. In the man this tube also carries semen from the area of the prostate to the outside.

Urologist -A physician specializing in the genito-urinary tract.

Uterus -The uterus is your baby's home during gestation. Also referred to as the womb, the uterus is hollow with a thick, muscular wall, and is considered the strongest muscle in the human body.





Vaginal Ultrasound -Technique used to visualise the female reproductive system. This ultrasound can detect the presence of cysts and other problems, follicles or pregnancy.

Vagina -The canal leading from the cervix to the outside of the woman's body; the birth passage.

Vaginitis -Yeast, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomonas infections of the vagina. Frequent vaginitis may indicate the presence of pelvic adhesions and tubal blockage from other infections, such as chlamydia. Vaginitis may interfere with sperm penetration of the cervical mucus, and the symptoms may even interfere with the ability and desire to have intercourse.

Varicocoele -A dilation of the veins that carry blood out of the scrotum. The resulting swollen vessels surrounding the testicles create a pool of stagnant blood, which elevates the scrotal temperature. A possible cause of male infertility.

Vas Deferens-The tubes through which the sperm move from the testicles (epididymis) toward the seminal vesicles and prostate gland. These tubes are severed during a vasectomy performed for birth control.

Vasectomy -Surgical separation of the vasa deferential a procedure used for birth control.

Venereal Disease -Any infection that can be sexually transmitted, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, ureaplasma, and syphilis. Many of these diseases will interfere with fertility and some will cause severe illness.



X Chromosome -The chromosome containing the genetic information in the cell that transmits the information necessary to make a female. All eggs contain one X chromosome, and half of all sperm carry an X chromosome. When two X chromosomes combine, the baby will be a girl.

Y Chromosome -The genetic material that transmits the information necessary to make a male. The Y chromosome can be found in one-half of the man's sperm cells. When an X and a Y chromosome combine, the baby will be a boy.

Zona Pellucida -The outer protective coat of the egg.


Zygote -The fertilized egg. Visable as a single ovum containing 2 pronuclei.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) -An ART in which eggs are removed from a woman's ovaries, fertilized with the man's sperm in a lab dish, and the resulting embryos are transferred into the woman's fallopian tubes during a minor surgical procedure.





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