Learning about infertility, and the various ways the condition impacts your life, can be overwhelming. As you embark on the journey to grow your family through infertility treatment there are seemingly endless new words and terms being thrown your way. Decoding infertility terms is a task in itself, so we’ve put together a glossary to help you understand.
Adverse Pregnancy Outcome: This term is used to describe a pregnancy that doesn’t end in a live birth. This can include stillbirth, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or induced abortion.
Agglutination: Term used to describe the clumping of sperm together.
Amenorrhea: The absence of menstrual periods in a woman of child bearing age.
Anovulation: Used to describe a condition whereby a woman rarely ovulates, or doesn’t ovulate at all. Most common disease that causes anovulation is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Anti-Sperm Antibodies: Antibodies attached to the surface of the sperm which inhibit, or prevent fertilization.
Artificial Insemination: The procedure involving the injection of sperm directly into the woman’s uterus.
ART: This abbreviation stands for Assisted Reproductive Technology, and involves all procedures and treatments involved in combining the egg and the sperm for fertilization. In vitro fertilization is a type of ART, as is intrafallopian transfer.
ART Cycle: This term refers to the period which begins when a woman starts taking fertility drugs, or has her ovaries monitored, to prepare for an ART procedure.
Basal Body Temperature: The temperature reading used to chart ovulation when taken every day.
Blastocyst: When an embryo reaches 5 days, post fertilization, it is called a blastocyst.
Cervical Mucus: The mucus produced by the cervix that increases as ovulation approaches.
Clomid: A fertility drug that aids in inducing ovulation.
Decreased Ovarian Reserve (DOR): This condition is one of the most common causes of infertility. When the egg reserve declines more than expected for her reproductive age, a woman has decreased ovarian reserve.
Donor Eggs IVF: Eggs are taken from a fertile young woman, fertilized with sperm and implanted into the woman’s uterus hoping to conceive.
Ectopic Pregnancy: An embryo which implants outside the uterus, frequently in the fallopian tubes and very rarely somewhere else like the cervix or the inside of the ovary.
Egg Retrieval: A procedure used to aspirate eggs from ovarian follicles.
Embryo: A fertilized egg which has undergone cell division.
Endometriosis: A condition involving growth of endometrial tissue (tissue that lines the uterus) outside of the uterus.
Endometrium: The tissue that lines the inside of the uterus.
Fallopian Tubes: 2 hollow tubes, in the pelvic cavity, by which the egg travels from the pelvis after release from the ovaries to the uterus.
Fecundity: A woman’s ability to conceive a pregnancy and carry it to term.
Fetus: An embryo which has developed past 8 weeks.
Follicle: Also called an ovarian follicle, this is a fluid-filled sac, found in the ovaries, containing an egg. During ovulation the follicle releases the egg along with follicular fluid.
Follicle Stimulating Hormones: Produced in the pituitary gland of the brain, this hormone (also known as FSH) stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles prior to ovulation.
Frozen Eggs: Eggs which have been retrieved and cryogenically preserved for future fertilization.
Frozen Embryo: An embryo which has been cryogenically preserved for future implantation.
Gamete: A reproductive cell, either egg, or sperm.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer: Also known as GIFT, this procedure involves the retrieval of eggs, and sperm, combining them for fertilization, and inserting into the fallopian tubes for implantation in the uterus.
Gestational Carrier (formerly known as surrogate): A third party who carries the fertilized egg (embryo) to term. The gestational carrier is frequently still called a surrogate, and is contracted to return the child to the parents at birth.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin: Often referred to as the “pregnancy hormone” or “beta”, HCG is produced by the placenta after implantation.
Hysterosalpingogram: A test involving dye injection through the cervix, into the uterus. Used to determine if there is a lesion inside the endometrial cavity and to check if the fallopian tubes are open.
Hysteroscopy: Procedure in which a thin camera (endoscope) is inserted into the uterus, through the cervix. This allows the physician to detect any issues involving your uterus. Operative hysteroscope can allow removal of lesions such as scar tissue, polyps and fibroids.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: Known as ICSI, this procedure allows a single, healthy sperm under the microscope to be selected, which then is injected directly into a healthy egg in order to fertilize the egg.
Intrauterine Insemination: IUI is another term for this process of placing sperm directly into a woman’s uterus upon ovulation. Same as artificial insemination.
In Vitro Fertilization: IVF is the technique in which the egg is fertilized by sperm in a laboratory setting. Once the embryo develops it is either implanted into the uterus (womb), or frozen for future use.
Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is a type of procedure in which a telescopic camera is inserted into the abdominal area through a small incision commonly at the umbilicus. This minimally invasive procedure allows the physician to see inside of the abdomen and perform surgery without the need for making a long cut or incision on the abdomen.
Luteal Phase: The luteal phase refers to the second half of the menstrual cycle which follows ovulation or the release of the egg from the ovaries.
Male Factor Infertility: Deficiencies in sperm, or sperm quantity, that make it difficult for the sperm to fertilize an egg by conventional means.
Morphology: The appearance of sperm, based on shape and size.
Motility: Sperm’s ability to move enough to reach the egg.
Oligospermia: This term refers to the insufficiency in quantity of sperm needed to achieve fertilization.
Oocyte: Another term for egg.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): A frequent cause of infertility in women, PID is inflammation of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. It’s often caused by an infection, usually transmitted sexually.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A common hormonal imbalance, which causes swelling of the ovaries, due to a series of small cysts. PCOS can interfere with fertility by preventing ovulation. This condition can also cause many other health problems, if untreated, such as diabetes and endometrial cancer.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Screening of the embryos to check for genetic abnormalities, certain birth defects, lower the risk of miscarriage and improve success of IVF. Currently called preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) as a general term.
Premature Ovarian Failure: Also known as early menopause, this term applies to a woman who has entered menopause before age 40. Ovulation ceases due to diminished production of estrogen.
Retrograde Ejaculation: When the semen enters the bladder, instead of leaving the penis, this is known as retrograde ejaculation.
Secondary Infertility: Infertility in couples trying for a second or third child who’ve previously conceived a child naturally.
Semen Analysis: This is the test used to determine fertility in men. Through semen analysis the sperm is examined for volume, count, size, shape, and motility.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing: This test allows determination of chromosomal or genetic problems in the embryos. There are different types of PGT depending on the type of genetic issue being tested.
Varicocele: A swollen vein, or varicose vein, in the scrotum which interferes with sperm production and viability.
Zygote: The very early development of a fertilized egg or “Day 1” embryo.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer: Also known as ZIFT, this procedure is similar to IVF in that the sperm and egg are combined for fertilization, in a lab setting, then inserted into the fallopian tube to subsequently implant in the uterus.
There you have it, a glossary of terms to help you understand. Of course, if there is anything you aren’t sure about, or don’t fully understand, please ask us.