Glossary

Aspiration: The removal of fluid and cells via suction through a needle. This technique is used in many reproductive medicine procedures.

Assisted Hatching (AH): Making a small opening in the protein “shell” surrounding the embryo to help the embryo break out in order to implant in the endometrium. This procedure is performed by an embryologist in the laboratory, prior to embryo transfer in IVF cycles.

Assisted Hatching (AH): Making a small opening in the protein “shell” surrounding the embryo to help the embryo break out in order to implant in the endometrium. This procedure is performed by an embryologist in the laboratory, prior to embryo transfer in IVF cycles.

Agglutination: When sperm clump together.

Amenorrhea: When a woman doesn’t have menstrual periods.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT): The body temperature at rest taken in the morning before getting up out of bed. Regular oral BBT measurements can help identify time of ovulation, or whether a patient is ovulating at all.

Blastocyst: The stage of embryo development about five days after the fertilisation of an egg.

Capacitation: The process sperm undergoes to fertilise an egg.

Cervical Factor: Infertility as a result of a structural or hormonal abnormality in the cervix. This type of infertility can usually be addressed by using inseminations of sperm past the cervix and into the uterus.

Cervical Mucus: Normal secretions of the cervix which change in volume and consistency throughout the menstrual cycle. The quality of this mucus reflects hormonal stimulation.

Cervix: The lower section of the uterus which protrudes into the vagina. It serves as a reservoir for sperm.

Cryopreservation: Controlled freezing and storage of either sperm, embryos or eggs.

Donor Eggs: Eggs taken from a fertile woman to implant in the patient.

Donor Embryo Transfer: The transfer of embryos resulting from the egg and sperm of other patients, either anonymous or known, to an infertile recipient.

Ectopic Pregnancy: When the embryo implants outside the uterus.

Endometriosis: A painful condition which sees tissue from the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, growing outside the uterus.

Egg Retrieval: The minimally-invasive surgical procedure during an IVF cycle to harvest the eggs. This is done under light anaesthesia.

Embryo: The term used to describe the early stages of foetal growth. Strictly defined from the second to the ninth week of pregnancy, but often used to designate any time after conception.

Fertilisation: The union of a sperm and egg to facilitate the creation of an embryo.

Fibroids: Overgrowth of the muscular tissue of the uterus. These are typically knotty masses of benign muscle tissue that can distort the shape and function of the uterus.

Fallopian Tubes: Two hollow tubes on either side of the uterus, where the egg and sperm meet to begin the fertilisation process.

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

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): This is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that causes cells to grow in the ovaries.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): A reproductive technique that involves removing sperm and eggs, mixing them together outside the body, then placing them back into the fallopian tubes.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (Gn-RH): A hormone produced in the hypothalamus of the brain, involved in triggering ovulation.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonists and Antagonists (GnRH Agonist): Synthetic hormones that perform the same function as natural Gn-RH.

Implantation: The attachment and embedding of the embryo into the lining of the uterus.

Insemination: Transfer of sperm to establish a pregnancy. This involves the placement of a small, soft catheter through the cervix and into the uterine cavity to deposit the concentrated and activated sperm.

Intra-Uterine Insemination (ICSI): Placement of a single sperm into a single egg by penetrating the outer coating of the egg. This technique is used to address low sperm numbers, motility or morphology.

Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI): This technique transfers sperm directly into the uterus, allowing for better sperm delivery into the fallopian tubes. This is a very common treatment for mild and moderate deficits in the semen analysis.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF): A powerful procedure to help patients conceive pregnancies, this involves stimulation of the ovaries to develop multiple follicles via injectable medications. The goal is to then harvest the eggs inside the follicles to inseminate with sperm in the laboratory

Infertility: Typically defined as the inability to fall pregnant following a year of unprotected sex

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Male Factor Infertility: When the cause of infertility lies with the man, or when it contributes to existing infertility challenges in the woman.

Morphology: The size and shape of sperm.

Motility: The ability of sperm to move by themselves

Oligozoospermia: When a man has too few sperm to fertilise an egg normally. Ovulation: When the ovaries release a mature egg that’s ready for fertilisation.

Ovum: An egg.

Polyp: An overgrowth of the glandular surface of the endometrium, which can impede implantation.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): A potential cause of infertility, this is the inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries due to infection.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A potential cause of infertility and other long-term health problems, this is a common hormonal condition that results from an imbalance of the sex hormones.

Premature Ovarian Failure: When a woman enters menopause before age 40 because she stops ovulating and producing oestrogen.

Retrograde Ejaculation: When semen enters the bladder during ejaculation instead of leaving the penis.

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

Sperm Antibody Test: In some couples, blood, semen or cervical mucus contains substances that hinder action thanks to an allergic or immune reaction.

Single Embryo Transfer (SET) or Elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET): This refers to the transfer of a single embryo at the end of an IVF cycle, and differs from the conventional practice of transferring more than one embryo.

Testicular/Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (TESA): The surgical removal of sperm using a needle for aspiration. This is used when men have no sperm in the ejaculate or have had past vasectomies. The sperm is taken direct from the testis or epididymis.

Unexplained Infertility: The inability to identify the cause of infertility, despite a complete evaluation of semen, ovarian reserve, ovulation, endocrine disorders and pelvic anatomy.

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

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT): An assisted reproductive technique similar to IVF and involving the removal of sperm and eggs, combining them outside the body, then inserting the fertilised eggs into the fallopian tubes.

Sources: WebMD, Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, and RESOLVE.