April 18, 2014
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Fertility

 Health Home >> Fertility >> Glossary 


Glossary

adhesion
The scar tissue that forms around reproductive organs following a previous injury, infection, or surgery.

amenorrhea
("eh-men-o-ree-a") The absence of menstruation.

androgen
Primarily a male sex hormone, found in the ovaries.

anovulation
The total absence of ovulation.

artificial insemination (AI)
The depositing of sperm in the vagina near the cervix or directly into the uterus, with the use of a catheter instead of by sexual intercourse. This technique is used to overcome sexual performance problems, to avoid sperm-mucus interaction problems, to maximize the potential of poor semen, and for using donor sperm.

assisted reproductive technologies (ART)
A variety of procedures used to bring about conception without sexual intercourse, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other techniques.

basal body temperature (BBT) test
The temperature of a woman taken every morning during a cycle before any activity is done that may raise her temperature. It is done to help determine if ovulation has taken place.

baseline ultrasound
An examination conducted before starting therapy to determine the general position and condition of the ovaries.

blastocyst transfer
Transferring embryos after they have developed for 4 or 5 days (until they reach blastocyst stage), rather than the usual 2 or 3 days in IVF.

cervical mucus
Mucus produced by the cervix that permits passage of sperm during ovulation and prevents infection.

cervix
The lower section of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina, through which the sperm pass to reach the uterus.

chemical pregnancy
The false appearance of pregnancy due to changes in hormonal levels.

conception
Fertilization; when the sperm meets and penetrates the egg.

controlled ovarian hyperstimulation
Stimulation of the ovaries with various hormonal medications in order to develop as many follicles as possible, as well as to control the timing of ovulation.

corpus luteum
A structure that forms at the site of an ovarian follicle after it releases an egg. The corpus luteum releases estrogen and progesterone, two hormones necessary for maintaining a pregnancy. If pregnancy occurs, the corpus luteum functions for five or six months. If pregnancy does not occur, it stops functioning.

cryopreservation
Storage of organs or tissues at very low temperatures. Embryos that are not used in an assisted reproductive technologies (ART) cycle can be cryopreserved for future use.

dysmenorrhea
("dis-men-o-ree-a") Cramping and pain around the time of menstruation.

dysmucorrhea
("dis-mew-ko-ree-a") Poor-quality or inadequate cervical mucus that can prohibit sperm passage.

ectopic pregnancy
Implantation of an embryo in a place other than the uterus.

egg retrieval
A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for use in in vitro fertilization (IVF). The procedure may be performed during laparoscopy or through the vagina by using a needle and ultrasound to locate the follicle in the ovary.

ejaculate
As a noun, it refers to the mixture of sperm and seminal fluid that comes out of a man's penis during sexual stimulation. As a verb, it refers to the passing of this material.

endometrial biopsy
The removal of a sample of the lining of the uterus for examination.

endometriosis
("end-o-mee-tree-o-sis") A disease whereby cells lining the uterus (or endometrium) get outside of the uterus and stick to other organs, causing inflammation.

endometrium
("end-o-mee-tree-um") The lining of the uterus.

epididymis
("ep-ee-did-ee-miss") The organ in a man where sperm are stored, are nourished, and mature after production.

embryo
A fetus in the early stages of growth, from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.

embryo transfer
Placing an egg fertilized outside the womb into a woman's uterus or fallopian tube.

estradiol
("es-tra-die-all") The most potent naturally occurring estrogen in humans. It is released from the ovary.

estrogen
A hormone that stimulates secondary female sexual characteristics and controls the course of the menstrual cycle. Also produced in low quantities in males.

estrone
One of the relatively weak estrogens, which is produced in large amounts in PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) patients.

fallopian tubes
Ducts through which eggs travel to the uterus once released from the follicle. Sperm normally meet the egg in the fallopian tube, the site at which fertilization usually occurs.

fertility specialist
A physician specializing in the practice of fertility. In Canada, these are doctors who have specialized in obstetrics and gynaecology (OB/GYNs) and have then completed more training in the area of reproductive endocrinology (the study of hormones) and infertility.

fertility treatment
Any method or procedure used to enhance fertility or increase the likelihood of pregnancy, such as ovulation induction (OI) treatment, varicocele repair (repair of varicose veins in the scrotal sac), and microsurgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes. The goal of fertility treatment is to help people have a child.

fertilization
The combining of the genetic material carried by sperm and egg to create an embryo. Normally occurs inside the fallopian tube (in vivo) but may also occur in a Petri dish (in vitro). (See also in vitro fertilization.)

fibroid
Benign (not malignant/cancerous or life-threatening) tumour of fibrous tissue that can occur in the uterine wall. May be totally without symptoms or may cause abnormal menstrual patterns or infertility.

fimbria
The finger-like extensions on the fallopian tubes that sweep the egg into the fallopian tube.

follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
A pituitary hormone that stimulates follicular development and spermatogenesis (sperm development). In a woman, FSH stimulates the growth of the ovarian follicle. In a man, FSH stimulates the Sertoli cells in the testicles and supports sperm production. Elevated FSH levels are associated with gonadal failure (failure of the ovaries or testes) in both men and women.

follicles
Fluid-filled sacs in the ovary that contain the eggs released at ovulation. Each month an egg develops inside the ovary in a follicle.

gamete
A reproductive cell - sperm in men, the egg in women.

gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)
A substance secreted every ninety minutes or so by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This hormone enables the pituitary to secrete LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), which stimulate the gonads.

gonadotropins
("go-nad-o-tro-pins") Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland that control reproductive function, such as LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).

gonads
Glands that make the gametes (testicles and ovaries).

human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
The hormone produced in early pregnancy, released by the placenta after implantation, that keeps the corpus luteum producing estradiol and progesterone and thus prevents menstruation.

hydrosalpinx
Blocked, dilated, fluid-filled fallopian tube.

hypogonadism
Inadequate ovarian or testicular function as shown by low sperm production or lack of follicle production, as well as low or absent levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone).

hypogonadotropic hypogonadism/hypogonadotropic hypogonadal (HH)
Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH) is a rare condition in which impaired activity of the hypothalamus or pituitary results in below-normal function of the gonads and in abnormally low FSH and LH serum levels and consequential negligible estrogen levels. (The gonads are the ovaries and testes and the hormones they normally produce include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone).

hypothalamus
The gland at the base of the brain that controls the release of hormones from the pituitary glands.

hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
("hiss-ter-o-sal-ping-go-gram") An X-ray procedure in which a special liquid is injected through the cervix into the uterine cavity to reveal the inner shape of the uterus and degree of openness of the fallopian tubes. If the tubes are open, the liquid will spill out the ends of the tubes. If the tubes are blocked, the liquid is trapped.

hysteroscopy
("hiss-ter-aw-sco-pee") A visual examination of the uterus using an instrument called a hysteroscope, which enables the doctor to see into the organ without making a large incision.

idiopathic infertility
The term used when the cause of infertility cannot be explained.

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.

in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Eggs produced by administering fertility drugs are retrieved from a woman's body and fertilized by sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are transferred by catheter to the uterus.

infertility
The inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse (six months if a woman is age 35 or older).

intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
A micromanipulation (occurring under the microscope) procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg to enable fertilization with very low sperm counts or with non-motile sperm (sperm that don't swim effectively toward the egg). The embryo is then transferred to the uterus.

intramuscular (IM) needle
A needle designed to administer medication deep into the muscle. Injections of this type are usually given in the thigh or upper buttock area.

intrauterine insemination (IUI)
A procedure in which a doctor places sperm directly into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter.

laparoscopy
("lap-a-raw-sco-pee") Examination of the pelvic region by using a small telescope called a laparoscope.

luteal phase
("loo-tee-al phase") Days of the menstrual cycle after ovulation when progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum.

luteinizing hormone (LH)
("loo-tee-in-eye-zing hormone") A pituitary hormone that stimulates the gonads. In a man, LH is necessary for the production of sperm and of testosterone. In a woman, LH is necessary for the production of estrogen.

luteinizing hormone surge (LH surge)
The release of luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes release of a mature egg from the follicle.

menstruation
Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding, which (in the absence of pregnancy) normally occurs about once a month in the mature female.

micromanipulation
A variety of techniques that can be performed in a laboratory under a microscope. An embryologist manipulates egg and sperm to improve the chances of pregnancy. (See also intracytoplasmic sperm injection.)

miscarriage
Spontaneous loss of a viable embryo or fetus in the womb.

morphology
The physical structure and configuration of sperm cells.

motility
The ability of sperm to swim. Poor motility means the sperm have a difficult time swimming toward the egg.

oligo-ovulation
Infrequent ovulation.

oligomenorrhea
("o-lee-go-men-o-ree-a") Irregular menstrual periods.

oligospermia
Low number of sperm in the ejaculate of the male.

oocyte
("o-o-site") The egg.

ovarian failure
The failure of the ovary to respond to FSH stimulation from the pituitary because of damage to or malformation of the ovary, or a chronic disease such as autoimmune disease. Diagnosed by elevated FSH in the blood.

ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
Sudden ovarian enlargement accompanied by fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. This may occur with or without pain, and with or without accumulation of fluid in the lungs. OHSS is caused when the ovaries become overstimulated by the various hormones that cause follicular development.

ovaries
The two sexual glands of the female where the eggs are stored. The ovaries also produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

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

ovulation induction (OI)
Medical treatment performed to initiate ovulation.

ovulatory dysfunction
A problem with the ovary where the egg is not matured or released properly.

ovum
The egg.

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
Inflammatory disease of the pelvis (usually caused by infection) that can lead to scarring and infertility.

pituitary gland
The gland located at the base of the brain that secretes a number of important hormones that regulate fertility, as well as normal growth and development of the body.

polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
The formation of cysts in the ovaries that occurs when the follicle stops developing. This is due to a hormonal imbalance in the ovary.

post-coital test (PCT)
A test to determine whether the sperm can move properly through the cervical mucus.

progesterone
("pro-jess-ta-rone") The hormone produced by the corpus luteum during the second half of a woman's cycle. It thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare it to accept implantation of a fertilized egg.

prostate
The gland in the male that supplies some of the seminal fluid and prepares the urethra for the passage of sperm.

recombinant human DNA (r-hDNA) technology
DNA that has been modified so that it contains genes from two different sources. Recombinant technology is often used to produce a version of medications called "recombinant."

reproductive endocrinologist
An obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) with advanced education, research, and professional skills in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. These doctors treat reproductive disorders that affect both women and men, and are also called fertility specialists.

scrotum
The pouch at the base of the penis that contains the testicles.

seminal vesicles
The pair of pouch-like glands around the prostate that produce the milky fluid that mixes with the sperm prior to ejaculation.

sharps disposal bin (safety container)
A container used for the disposal of needles and other medical waste.

sperm (spermatozoa)
The microscopic cell that carries the male's genetic information to the female's egg; the male reproductive cell; the male gamete. "Sperm" is also used to refer to many sperm cells together.

sperm count
The number of sperm in an ejaculate. Also called sperm concentration and given as the number of sperm per milliliter.

spermatogenesis
("sper-mat-o-jen-a-sis") The production of sperm.

sterility
An irreversible condition that prevents conception.

subcutaneous (SC) injection
Administration of medication with a fine small needle just below the surface of the skin, into fatty tissue.

subcutaneous (SC) needle
A needle designed to administer medication just below the surface of the skin, into the fatty tissue.

testes
The two male sexual glands that produce sperm as well as the male hormone 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 (sperm development).

thromboembolism
("throm-bo-em-bo-lizm") Obstruction of a blood vessel with material carried by the blood stream from the site of origin to plug another vessel.

tubal pregnancy
The development and attachment of a fertilized egg in a fallopian tube.

ultrasound
A test used instead of X-rays to visualize the reproductive organs; for example, to monitor follicular development.

uterus
Hollow muscular organ where the fetus grows until birth.

vagina
Muscular opening in a woman extending from the vulva to the cervix of the uterus.

varicocele
Varicose veins in the testicle that can cause sperm abnormalities.

vas deferens
The pair of tubes in the male that lead from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct in the prostate.


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