The following brief fertility definitions are not complete or all-encompassing. They are meant to refer only to the terms’ use in the context of infertility treatment. Please use the enclosed information as quick reference and for discussion aids with your practitioner.
Amenorrhea: absent menstruatio.
Androgen: male sex hormones; produced by males primarily in the testes, and in females by adrenal glands and ovaries.
Androstenedione: a weaker androgen.
Anovulation: absent ovulation.
Azoospermia: lack of sperm.
Blastocyst: stage of embryonic development about 5 days post-fertilization.
Cervix: “doorway” into woman’s uterus from the vagina; circular in shape, made of very strong muscles; synonym: uterine neck.
Conceptus: any results of the union of a sperm and egg, from zygote to fetus.
Cryopreservation: process by which sperm or embryos are frozen for later use.
Culture: special liquid used to provide nutrients and protection for growing embryos in IVF process; synonym: media.
Cytoplasm: usually referring to the area outside the nuclear cell of the oocyte that contains the physical elements or reproduction.
Dyspareunia: persistent painful sexual intercourse or when such pain develops after long period of time without pain.
Embryo: a fertilized egg that has undergone division or cleavage.
Endometrium: tissue lining the uterus; its cyclical build up and shedding strongly impacts a woman’s fertility.
Epididymis: tubular structure attached to the testicle that serves as a reservoir where sperm mature and are stored.
Estradiol: the most powerful and fertility-impacting of two types of estrogen, produced by the ovarian follicle.
Estrone: the weakest of two types of estrogen.
Fecundity: ability to conceive or impregnate within a given period of time, usually measured as one month.
Fertility drugs: all medications used in the treatment of infertility.
Galactorrhea: noticeable milk production from breasts during times other than when nursing; often associated with hyperprolactinemia.
Hydrosalpinx: blockage of fallopian tube’s outer end; results in distension by fluid buildup.
Hyperinsulinemia: high insulin levels in the blood.
Hyperprolactinemia: high prolactin levels in the blood.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): hystero, referring to uterine, and salpingo, referring to fallopian tubes; a diagnostic procedure used to determine whether a woman’s tubes are open or whether blockage exists.
Implantation: occurs when embryo attaches to and penetrates endometrium; technically, event which begins a pregnancy.
Karyotype: results of a blood test in which a chromosomal map or picture is created, enabling detection of any existing chromosomal abnormalities.
Laparascope: thin tube attached to a light source, allowing a minimally invasive view of the pelvic and abdominal interior and organs.
Laparascopy: any surgery in which a laparoscope is used.
Mitochondria: structures within individual cells which provide energy for the cell’s use; become less efficient with age.
Motility: movement characteristics of sperm cells.
Oligomenorrhea: infrequent menstruation.
Oligospermia: lower than normal amount of sperm present in semen.
Ovarian follicle: a small, fluid-filled structure in which the eggs develop.
Ovarian reserve: a measurement of how capable a woman’s eggs are of producing a pregnancy.
Pipette: very small glass tubing used in aspiration techniques.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis: a group of techniques used to detect genetic anomalies in embryos before transferring them into the uterus in the IVF process.
Seminiferous tubules: coiled threadlike tubes that make up the testis; lined with a layer of epithelial cells from which the spermatozoa are produced.
Teratogen: agent or substance which causes abnormalities in a developing embryo or fetus.
Testosterone: the primary, stronger male androgen.
Thyroid: gland is located in base of both male and female necks; Important to regulating body’s metabolism.
Vas deferens: long tube through which sperm travel during ejaculation.
Viability: refers to the ability of a conceptus to live and grow, or to a pregnancy’s overall status.
Zona pellucida: hard outer membrane surrounding the unfertilized oocyte.
Zygote: fertilized egg up to the first cellular cleavage; usually about 22 hours in length.