Glossary of Fertility Terminology
Adoption: The legal process in which a couple
adopt a child and become its legal parents.
Annovulatory: Absence of ovulation.
Antral Follicles: Smaller follicles which
develop as a result of FSH stimulation but are then re-absorbed by
Assisted Hatching: The thinning of the shell or
creation of a small hole in the zona of an embryo.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):
Procedures that help unite an egg and sperm outside the body
in the laboratory.
Asthenozoospermia: Sperm with poor motility
Antisperm Antibodies: Sticky proteins on sperm
Azoospermia: Complete absence of sperm in the
Blastocyst: The early stage of an embryo that
is 4-5 days old and is a hollow ball of cells whose wall is
comprised of a single layer of cells; the blastocyst is the
liquid-filled sphere that implants in the wall of the uterus during
Blastocyst Transfer: An embryo that has
developed to five days and is transferred into the uterus.
Cervix: The opening to the uterus.
Cervical Mucous: A fluid that enhances the
transport of the sperm into the endometrial cavity.
Clomiphene Citrate: A fertility drug used to
stimulate ovulation that may result in multiple births.
Clomiphene Challenge Test: An exam that can
determine the egg reserves in the ovaries.
Corpus Luteum: A ruptured follicle. The corpus
luteum releases Oestrogen and progesterone. Progesterone
continues to be released if fertilisation has occurred. If
pregnancy does not occur, the Corpus Luteum stops producing
Progesterone and the female will have a menstrual bleed.
Cryopreservation: The process of freezing
commonly used for embryos or sperm. Cryopreservation of oocytes is
a relatively recent development and is called vitrification.
Dysmenorrhea: Pain with menstrual bleeding.
Ectopic Pregnancy: A pregnancy in which a
fertilised egg begins to develop outside the uterus normally used
in reference to a pregnancy that develops in the fallopian
Egg Collection: A procedure performed to
collect the eggs produced from an IVF/ICSI cycle. This can be
performed under sedation or a General Anaesthetic.
Egg Donation: A woman donates eggs through
IVF/IVCSI treatment, to another woman (recipient).
Electro-ejulation: The use of electrical
stimulation to aid production of a semen sample in impotent or
Embryo: An organism in its early development
stage. Formative stages of development from fertilisation to 8
Embryo transfer: A procedure following IVF/ICSI
in which the embryos are replaced back into the uterus.
Endometriosis: A condition in which the lining
of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterine
cavity. Often, this tissue is found in the pelvic cavity
attached to the ovary or fallopian tubes. It can be a cause
of infertility in women.
Endometrium: The lining of the uterus which is
shed. The lining of the uterus that grows throughout the
menstrual cycle and is shed in the monthly menstrual cycle if an
embryo does not implant.
Epididymis: Coiled tubing outside the testicles
which store sperm.
Estradiol: A hormone secreted by the
Estrogen: A female hormone secreted chiefly by
the ovaries that stimulates the development of female secondary sex
characteristics and promotes the growth and maintenance of the
female reproductive system.
Fallopian tubes: Tubes connected to the uterus
and positioned near the ovaries. It is here that
fertilisation of the egg and sperm occurs.
Fertilisation: Sperm penetrating the egg which
can lead to pregnancy.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone
produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the growth of the
egg-containing follicles in the ovary. In males it
contributes to the production of sperm.
Follicles: A fluid filled sac in the ovary in
which an egg grows and develops. Although the egg is microscopic,
follicles can be visualized by ultrasound.
Follicular Loss: A progressive process that
will deplete the number of egg reserves by menopause.
Follicular Tracking: Scanning a woman during a
natural cycle for ovulation.
Gametes: Male sperm and female eggs.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): A method
of treating infertility by removing eggs from a woman's ovaries,
combining them with sperm from her partner or a donor in the
laboratory, and placing the eggs and sperm together in one of her
fallopian tubes, where fertilisation can occur.
Gonadotropins: Gonadotropin Releasing
Hormone (GnRH): Produced by the Hypothalamus, it enables
the production of LH and FSH.
Gonadotropins: the hormones produced by the
pituitary gland that control reproductive function. They are part
of the reproductive cycle, i.e. FSH and LH.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG): A hormone
that is produced by the body in the early stages of pregnancy.
It enables the corpus luteum to continue producing
Progesterone. In assisted conception HCG is used 36 hours
prior to egg retrieval to mature the eggs ready for the egg
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): A drug that
helps to mature eggs and stimulate ovulation.
Hydrosalpinx: Fluid in the fallopian tube.
Hypothalamus: A specialised gland in the brain
that orchestrates the body's hormonal changes.
Hypospadias: Congenital abnormality, affecting
male offspring, in which the opening of the urethra is misplaced or
Hystero Contrast Sonography (Hycosy): Procedure
which checks the patency of the fallopian tubes using ultrasound
Hysteo-Salpingpgram (HSG): Procedure which
checks the patency of the fallopian tubes and the uterus under
Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which the uterine
cavity is visualised by a surgeon. Can help in the diagnosis
of fibroids or polyps.
Implantation: For a pregnancy to continue
developing the embryo needs to implant into the lining of the womb,
In vitro Fertilisation (IVF): A procedure that
involves removing eggs from a woman's ovaries and fertilising them
in the laboratory outside the body. The resulting embryos are
then replaced back into the woman's womb through the cervix.
Infertility: The inability to conceive after a
year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over
age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term.
Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A
procedure in which a single sperm is injected into a mature egg.
Normally offered to couples where the male sperm count is low
or there is poor motility. It can also be offered to couples
who have experienced failed fertilisation following IVF.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): A procedure in
which sperm is washed and prepared and then passed directly into
the uterus via a fine catheter to enhance the chances of
Klinefelter's Syndrome: A genetic condition in
which men have an extra X chromosome.
Laparoscopy: A camera procedure in which the
surgeon passes a small, lighted instrument by making a small
incision under the belly button to explore the internal structure
of the pelvis, in particular the ovaries, fallopian tube the
Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone which is
produced by the Pituitary gland. In females it is essential
for the production of Oestrogen. In males it is necessary for
the process of sperm production and testosterone secretion.
Menstrual Cycle: Normally a 28 day cycle in
which ovulation occurs around day 14 and if fertilisation does not
occur, results in a bleed around day 28.
Menorrhagia: Heavy menstrual bleeding.
Miscarriage: Spontaneous loss of a viable
embryo or fetus in the womb.
Microsurgical Tubal Reanastomosis: A procedure
used to reverse tubal sterilisation.
Motile Forms: Sperm with a heightened ability
Myomas: Benign (non cancerous), smooth muscle
tumors found in the female genital tract.
Oestrogen: A hormone that aids the thickening
of the endometrium lining. It is also produced in small
quantities in the male.
Oligozoospermia: Low numbers of sperm in the
(OATS): Low numbers, reduced motility and
abnormality of the sperm shape in the ejaculated sample.
Open Approach (Abdominal Myomectomy): A
surgical procedure in which only fibroids, but not the uterus, are
removed. This preserves childbearing potential.
Myomectomy can be performed in different ways depending on
the location of fibroids within the uterus. The most common
approach is abdominal myomectomy, which allows the surgeon to
directly visualise the uterus and fibroids through an abdominal
Ovarian Cysts: Sacs filled with fluid or
semisolid material that develops on or within the ovary during the
time of ovulation. Most cysts are benign and disappear
spontaneously without treatment.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS):
Excessive stimulation of the ovaries by fertility
Ovary: The female reproductive organs that
produce eggs and estrogen on a monthly basis under hormonal
influence from pituitary gland.
Ovarian drilling: Surgical procedure offered to
women with PCOS. Small holes are drilled into the ovary to
reduce the number of cysts present in an attempt to regulate the
menstrual cycle and aid conception.
Ovulation: The release of the egg (ovum) from
the ovarian follicle.
Ovulation Induction: Medical treatment
performed to initiate ovulation.
Pelvic Adhesions: Abnormal bands of scar tissue
that form in the pelvis and cause organs to stick or bind to one
PESA: Percutaneous Epidymal Sperm
Aspiration. A procedure involving sperm being retrieved
directly from the epididymis using a needle.
PGD: Pre-Genetic Implantation Diagnosis. The
analysis of a cell, under laboratory conditions, from an embryo to
check for genetic disease.
PID: Pelvic Inflammatory disease.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: An endocrine
disorder affecting the function of the ovaries.
PMT: Premenstrual Tension. These are
symptoms arising from hormonal changes, normally occurring a week
before menstrual bleed. They can include irritability, tearfulness
and mood swings.
Premature Ovarian failure: Indicated by an
elevated FSH. The ovaries are no longer producing follicles,
this can be due to congenital, genetic, chromosomal or damage
caused by toxic drugs, such as chemotherapy.
Progesterone: A female hormone secreted by the
corpus luteum in the ovaries during the second half of a woman's
cycle. It thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare for
the implantation of a fertilised egg.
Pronuculate egg: Fertilised egg.
Seminiferous tubules: Sperm is developed and
grows in the tubules.
Shared Egg Donation: A woman who needs IVF/ICSI
treatment shares her yield of eggs with another couple.
Sperm: The gamete that contains the genetic
material of the male.
Sperm count: One of the parameter's that is
checked in a semen sample i.e. the number of sperm present in the
Sperm Donation: Donation of sperm, from another
person, to help couples conceive.
Spermatogenesis: The production of sperm.
Sperm motility: Another parameter that it
checked in the semen sample. It is the ability of the sperm
to swim to the egg that enables fertilisation to occur.
STD: Sexually transmitted disease, such as
Surrogacy: A woman carries a pregnancy for a
Teratazoospermia: High numbers of abnormal
sperm in ejaculate.
Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA): A needle
biopsy of the testicle used to obtain and aspirate small amounts of
sperm directly from the testes. A small incision is made in
the scrotal skin and a spring loaded needle is fired through the
TeSE: Testicular Sperm Extraction, involving
sperm being retrieved from a biopsy of testicular tissue.
Testes: The body part where sperm is
Testosterone: This hormone aids the production
of sperm. It is also found in smaller quantities in
Uterus: The organ where the embryo attaches and
Vagina: The birth canal leading to the
Vaginal Ultrasound: Internal scan which enables
clear images the reproductive organs in a female. This will
be used to assess follicular development during treatment.
Vas deferens: Tubes which carry sperm from the
epididymis to the urethra.
Vasectomy: A surgical procedure which cuts the
passages that transport the sperm.
Zona: Shell surrounding the egg/embryo.