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Glossary of Fertility Terms
The absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age.
A specialty focusing on the male infertility side of assisted reproductive techonology (ART).
A sophisticated technique for perforating the shell surrounding the egg (the zona pellucida) so that the embryo can break out of the zona and implant in the uterus.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
Treatments and procedures involving the handling of human eggs and sperm for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy. Types of ART include IVF, ICSI, assisted hatching, embryo cryopreservation, frozen embryo transfer and oocyte donation.
A technique that involves freezing and preserving embryos or sperm for transfer at a later date.
Diminished Ovarian Reserve (Oocyte Aging)
A decrease in a woman's number of eggs and/or a decrease in egg quality.
An embryo formed from the egg of a woman who donated it (the donor) for transfer to a woman who is unable to conceive with her own eggs (the recipient).
When a fertilized embryo attaches to any tissue other than the uterine wall.
A female reproductive cell, also called an oocyte or ovum.
Using a needle to puncture the wall of the vagina while a patient is under sedation, the physician enters the ovaries to retrieve the ripened eggs.
A fertilized egg in the early stages of growth, from fertilization by a sperm until the eighth week of pregnancy.
A specialty focusing on embryo development.
A procedure in which the physician passes a catheter into the woman's uterus, discharging the embryos and fluid it holds.
Endocrine Disorders (Hormonal Imbalances)
Disorders include diabetes, thyroid, parathyroid and other hormone issues.
The growth of cells similar to those that form the inside of the uterus (endometrial cells), but in a location outside of the uterus.
Fallopian Tube Factor
Blockage, scarring or damage in one or both fallopian tubes.
Fertility Preservation (Oncofertility)
Egg and embryo freezing for patients who are about to undergo treatment that may affect their fertility or wish to defer reproduction.
The process during which sperm penetrates an egg, fusion of genetic material occurs and an embryo develops.
Benign tumors found in the wall of the uterus.
A sac-like structure in the ovary that protects and nurtures a ripening egg until ovulation, the point at which it is released.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
A hormone that stimulates the ovary to ripen a follicle.
Genetic Disease Counseling (Relative to Fertility)
Counseling includes cystic fibrosis, down syndrome, hemophilia, Huntington's disease, Marfan's disease, muscular dystrophy, sickle-cell anemia and others.
A reproductive system development disorder.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
A hormone produced following ovulation, it aids the corpus luteum in production of progesterone, required to prepare the uterine lining for implantation of the fertilized egg.
Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (hMG)
A hormone used to stimulate the development of multiple follicles.
The radiological examination of the female reproductive system.
A diagnostic procedure in which the physician uses a fiber optic scope, inserted through the vagina and cervical canal, to examine of the inside of the uterus.
Immunologic or Thrombophilic Infertility Factors
Includes recurrent implantation failures, recurrent miscarriages and blood clotting disorders.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
A procedure, used most commonly in cases of male infertility, in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Sperm that have been washed (separated from the seminal fluid) and prepared in the andrology laboratory are inserted directly into the uterus.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
A process in which an egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish to facilitate fertilization. If fertilization occurs, the resulting embryo is transferred to the uterus.
This procedure allows a physician to view the ovaries, as well as the outside of the fallopian tubes and uterus, with the help of a surgical instrument inserted through a small incision below a woman's navel.
Leutenizing Hormone (LH)
The increase in LH level during the middle of a woman's cycle triggers ovulation, the release of a ripened egg from a follicle.
Male Factor Infertility
Includes low sperm count, low sperm motility, small or low number of sperm with normal sperm morphology and other conditions.
The permanent end of menstruation and fertility.
The mechanical manipulation of eggs, sperm or embryos under a microscope. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), assisted hatching and embryo biopsy are all forms of micromanipulation.
Microsurgical Sperm Aspiration
Procedures using an operating microscope to obtain sperm that can be used in conjunction with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) in certain cases of male infertility.
Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA)
A microsurgical procedure to extract fluid and sperm directly from an epididymal tubule, where sperm is stored. The sperm is prepared in the laboratory for use with ICSI.
Includes agenesis, hypoplasia, uterus didelphys and unicornuate, bicornuate, septate, arcuate and DES-related uterus.
The release of a ripened egg from its follicle.
A type of infertility treatment that uses hormone therapy to stimulate oocyte (egg) development and release.
Abnormal, irregular or absent ovulation.
Includes pelvic adhesions, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and a variety of other causes.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
An endocrine disorder that affects ovulation and/or menstruation.
Preimplantation Genetic Screening and Diagnosis (PGS/PGD)
The removal of a single cell from a multi-celled embryo for genetic evaluation.
The inability to become pregnant after at least one (1) year of unprotected sex.
A hormone, secreted after ovulation, that prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg and helps sustain pregnancy.
Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
A history of two or more failed pregnancies.
A gynecologist who has received additional fellowship training in female infertility diagnosis and treatment.
Same-Sex Family Planning
Pregnancy options for gay and lesbian couples.
The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully and naturally conceiving one or more children.
The size and shape (form) of an individual sperm.
The ability of sperm to move and swim.
A procedure that allows for microscopic examination of a tissue sample that is removed through a small incision in the scrotum and contains the semniferous tubules that produce sperm. The results can help determine causes of infertility and suggest a course of treatment.
Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)
A procedure for extracting sperm by removing a small piece of testicular tissue through an incision in the testes. In the laboratory, the tissue is processed to extract sperm for use with ICSI.
Third-Party Reproduction: Donor Egg, Donor Sperm, Gestational Carrier
The use of eggs or sperm from a third party and/or the use of a third party to carry a pregnancy to term.
A cause of infertility related to structural or functional damage to one or both fallopian tubes.
Unexplained (Idiopathic) Infertility
Infertility for which no cause has been determined despite a comprehensive evaluation.
Uterine Factor Infertility
includes a variety of serious defects in the uterus that contribute to infertility (adenomyosis, Asherman's syndrome, endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial polyps, fibroids)
Vasovasostomy (Vasectomy Reversal)
Microsurgical removal of scarred sections, and reconnection of the inner and outer layers of the vas deferens after a vasectomy, allowing sperm to travel out of the epidydimis and into the ejaculate.
Vasoepididymostomy (Epididymal Repair)
A microsurgical technique used in cases where the epididymal tubule is blocked, it involves stitching both layers of the vas deferens directly to the epididymis and its inner tubule at a point above the obstruction, allowing fluids to bypass the blockage.