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In most cases, the terminology used to describe fertility problems and procedures are unfamiliar to couples. This glossary will be a helpful resource to assist you in the understanding of these concepts. As you are traveling through the Website you can access this glossary at any time by clicking on links (underlined words) for the glossary terms.

Scar tissue that forms in and around reproductive organs. This tissue is the result of injuries, infections, or endometriosis and may interfere with reproduction.

Irregular or absent menstrual periods.

When cells in the uterine lining grow into the uterine muscle wall. This often results in an enlarged uterus, bleeding and painful cramps.

Assisted Hatching
Embryo micromanipulation creates a hole in the embryo’s covering to increase the chance of implantation. This technique is used for older women, who have a history of failed implantations, or elevated basal FSH levels.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
Procedures that unite sperm and eggs and bypass some of the factors causing infertility. The most common ART procedures include in vitro fertilization (IVF), Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), and Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).

Absence of sperm in the ejaculate.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
Resting body temperature.

The lower section of the uterus which protrudes into the vagina and dilates during labor to allow the passage of the infant.

A commonly found bacteria that may present a fertility problem for some couples. These bacteria may be present without any symptoms. In some women, the presence of the bacteria may result in tubal scarring. To determine if this bacteria is present, a culture is done of the woman’s cervical mucus or the man’s semen secretions.

Corpus Luteum
The ovarian structure that produces progesterone after ovulation.

A technique used by many ART centers where the embryos are frozen and stored for later use. This procedure may lower the cost of subsequent ART procedures by eliminating the need for ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval.

A catheter (a small thin tube) is inserted into the urethra and the bladder is filled with a special dye to make the bladder visible on an x-ray.

A procedure in which a catheter (a small thin tube) is inserted into the urethra and bladder in order to measure and record bladder pressure.

A procedure where a small tube called a cytoscope is inserted through the urethral opening so that the doctor can view the urethra and bladder.

Cramping and pain during menstruation.

Painful intercourse.

Electron Microscopy
Allows a sperm to be magnified thousands of times to look inside the cell so it can be evaluated for abnormalities not using general microscopy.

The term used to describe the early stage of fetal growth from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.

Endometrial biopsy
A test to determine if ovulation is occurring and if the uterine lining is developing normally in the second half of the cycle. It is also done for patients experiencing abnormal bleeding to rule out cancer or pre-cancer.

The rich and nutrient-laden lining of the uterus.

A disease characterized by pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, and often dyspareunia. It is estimated that endometriosis affects 1 out of 7 women of reproductive age and up to 40% of women with fertility problems.

Estradiol (E2)
A hormone released by developing follicles in the ovary. Estradiol levels are used to help determine progressive growth of the follicles during ovulation induction. It is extremely important to monitor these levels while on fertility drugs to coordinate ovulation and to prevent hyperstimulation.

Fallopian Tubes
A pair of narrow tubes that carry the egg (ovum) from the ovary to the uterus.

The developing baby from the ninth week of pregnancy until the moment of birth.

Fibroid Tumor (Leiomyoma)
A benign tumor that may be found on the wall of the uterus. Tumors such as this may exist without any symptoms but may affect menstruation and fertility.

The structure in the ovary that has nurtured the ripening egg and from which the egg is released.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
FSH stimulates the development of a follicle within one of the ovaries which then produces a mature egg. In men FSH activates sperm production.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)
An ART procedure that mixes sperm and eggs and places them directly into a fallopian tube. Once fertilized, the embryo travels into the uterus in much the same fashion as natural pregnancy.

Excessive hair growth usually caused by a hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal Therapy
Infertility is often caused by hormonal imbalances. These imbalances affect ovulation in women and sperm production in men. Hormonal therapy is used to replace or supplement hormonal stimulation that is needed for reproduction.

An overgrowth of the uterine lining stimulated by a hormonal imbalance. Some types of hyperplasia are precancerous.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
A diagnostic x-ray that allows the physician to view the contour or shape of the inside of the uterus along with the patency of the fallopian tubes. HSG is often required during an infertility workup.

A common procedure done to determine the cause of unusually long or heavy periods, abnormal bleeding, or post menopausal bleeding. This procedure may also be done to find the cause of severe cramps or infertility. During the procedure, a long, thin telescope is inserted through the vagina into the uterus. This allows the doctor to look at images of the uterus on a video monitor. The procedure is done for both diagnostic as well as operative purposes.

The inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy after one year of regular unprotected sexual relations, or the inability of the woman to carry a pregnancy to term.

Intrauterine Insemination
Sperm is placed inside the uterus, using a thin catheter inserted through the cervix. This procedure may be done in combination with hormone treatments to increase egg production.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
The most common ART procedure, it is used to circumvent a variety of fertility problems. This procedure involves the injection of a stimulant to develop multiple follicles. Once the eggs are mature, they are retrieved from the ovaries and transferred to a laboratory dish. At this time, they are fertilized by sperm from the male partner and developing embryos are inserted back into the uterus.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
A micromanipulation procedure that injects a single sperm into an egg. This technique is used in cases of drastically reduced sperm counts or where the sperm is too weak for conventional IVF.

Laboratory Tests
Patients will need infectious disease screenings that include: HIV, Hepatitis, and RPR. In addition, the woman will also need blood type and rubella tests. When abnormal ovulation is suspected, test may include: FSHLH, Prolactin, Thyroid hormone and androgen assays such as DHEAS, Testosterone, Androstenedione and 17-OH-Progesterone.

This is sometimes referred to as “Belly button surgery.” It is an operational procedure used to diagnose and treat pelvic scarring, diseased tubes or endometriosis.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)
During ovulation in women, the level of LH surges causing the egg to be released from the ovary. In men, LH stimulates production of testosterone which also contributes to the development of mature sperm.

The cessation of menstruation due to aging or failure of the ovaries. Surgical menopause is the abrupt of cessation of menstruation caused by a hysterectomy.

The period of uterine bleeding accompanied by shedding of the endometrium.

Used in men with radically reduced sperm counts or immotile sperm. This procedure involves IVF combined with a microscopic procedure directed at increasing the chance of fertilization.

Infrequent irregular ovulation.

Low number of sperm in the ejaculate.

The sexual gland of the female which produces the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and in which the eggs are developed.

Ovarian Stimulation
Ovaries are stimulated with various hormonal medications to develop as many follicles as possible and to control the timing of ovulation for egg recovery.

The discharge of a ripened egg usually at the midpoint of the menstrual cycle.

Ovulation Induction
The use of therapy to stimulate egg development and release.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
An infection that causes inflammation of the pelvis. This can result in adhesion formation and infertility.

Pituitary Desensitization
A medically induced condition that is used during ART therapies to shut down the pituitary gland. This reduces the chance of a premature LH surge.

Pituitary Gland
An endocrine gland which secretes a number of hormones that regulate several bodily processes including growth, reproduction, and various metabolic activities.

The structure in uterus through which the fetus receives nutrients.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Is a medical condition in which the ovaries become enlarged and contain a number of small cysts. It is the most common cause of menstrual irregularity and it can be responsible for a variety of symptoms including infertility.

Profile I
An initial assessment of the semen sample includes observations on volume, color, thickness, pH, and whether or not the sample liquefies or stays in a gel or a clump. The analysis of sperm within an ejaculate includes concentration, motility, the percentage of sperm that are viable, motion characteristics of motile sperm, the mixed anti-gobulin reaction to look for antibodies and sperm morphology (normal and abnormal sperm). The tests performed during Profile I are standard procedures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the examination of human semen. A ureaplasma culture will also be done at this time. A two to five day abstinence time is required.

Profile II
All of the same procedures that are performed in a Profile I are performed initially on a sample scheduled for a Profile II analysis. However, after an initial analysis, semen samples are prepared in a similar manner to artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. Samples are then placed in one different types of culture medium and incubated for 24 hours. Following the 24 hour incubation, the sample is evaluated for the percentage of motile sperm and the percentage of live sperm. This test is used to assess the survivability of sperm after incubation.

Progesterone (P4)
A hormone secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary after ovulation has occurred. Also produced by the placenta during pregnancy. Ovulation induction cycles may cause one’s body to not produce the proper amount of progesterone. Supplementation may help this situation.

The sperm and seminal secretions ejaculated during a male’s orgasm.

The male reproductive cell.

Sperm Agglutination
Sticking together of sperm that impairs its ability to fertilize an egg. This condition is the result of infection, inflammation or antibodies.

Sperm Antibodies
Antibodies that can be found in either a woman or man that destroy sperm action by immobilizing the sperm or making them clump together.

Sperm Fraction Concentration Test (SFC)
This particular test involves the manipulation and washing of a semen sample with at least one and typically two centrifugation steps. The number of motile sperm that are recovered will determine if the patient is a candidate for in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination.

The primary male hormone.

Tubal Patency
Fallopian tubes that are unobstructed and open.

A quick and painless procedure that uses soundwaves to create a picture of the uterus and other organs on a video screen.

A commonly found bacteria that may present a fertility problem for some couples. These bacteria may be present without any symptoms. In some women, the presence of the bacteria may result in tubal scarring. To determine if this bacteria is present, a culture is done of the woman’s cervical mucus or the man’s semen secretions.

Canal through which urine leaves the body.

A muscular organ approximately the size of a pear. It is lined with a mucous membrane called the endometrium. After fertilization, the egg imbeds itself in the uterine lining and begins to develop.

Uterine Polyps
These polyps are comprised of soft uterine tissue which usually hangs down in stalks. Although they are not usually painful, even small polyps can cause uterine bleeding.

An egg that has been fertilized but has not yet divided.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
An ART procedure that combines techniques from IVF and GIFT. The process is similar to IVF but in ZIFT the embryo is placed in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.