Infertility Glossary


Anovulation - Failure of the ovaries to produce an egg.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies
- Medical techniques in which fertilization of a human egg by a sperm is attempted outside the human body in an embryology laboratory. These techniques employ fertility medications and sophisticated medical procedures. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common.

Asherman Syndrome - A condition characterized by scar tissue in the uterus which can impede implantation. Although rare, this condition usually follows a pregnancy with complications necessitating a dilatation and curettage. Symptoms include markedly reduced or no menstrual flow and increased menstrual cramps.

Assisted Hatching
- A laboratory procedure which involves creating a small slit in the shell (zona pellucida) of the human embryo to assist it with escape from its shell and increase its likelihood of implantion in the uterus. Also known as partial zona dissection.

Biopsy - A test in which a small amount of tissue is removed for microscopic evaluation.

Blastocyst Transfer
- The process in which embryos are transferred at day five of development instead of day three of development.

Cervix - The lower segment of the uterus where the vagina and uterus join.

Comiphene Citrate - An oral fertility medication which stimulates the pituitary gland to release excess follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, which in turn stimulates the ovaries to produce one or more eggs. This medication is marketed under the brand names Clomid and Serophene.

Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation - Stimulation of the ovaries with fertility medications such as clomiphene citrate or gonadotropins, to encourage the growth of several eggs.

Cryopreservation - A laboratory technique in which sperm or embryos are frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored for future use.

Donor Ova - Human eggs contributed by young, fertile females to women who are incapable of producing viable eggs.

Donor Sperm - Human sperm contributed by young, fertile males to patients who do not have adequate sperm quality and numbers.

Ectopic Pregnancy - A pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.

Egg Retrieval - An IVF procedure, performed under light intravenous sedation, in which mature eggs are removed from the ovary by a needle placed through the vaginal wall.

Endocrinology - The discipline involving the study of hormones.

Endometriosis - A disease characterized by the presence of endometrium growing outside the uterine cavity, where it usually grows.

Endometrium - The lining of the uterus that grows during a normal cycle and is expelled during the menstrual flow.

Estradiol or E2 - A type of estrogen produced by ovarian follicles which then circulates in the blood. This hormone is often measured during blood tests.

Estrogen - A major category of female hormones. The natural estrogens are estradiol, estrone and estriol. Other forms of estrogen are Premarin, Ogen, Mestranol and Raloxifene.

Fallopian Tubes - A pair of slender ducts through which an egg migrates to the uterus.

Fetus - The developing human being from the end of the eighth week of pregnancy to birth.

Fibroid - A benign uterine growth that can affect fertility and cause abnormal uterine bleeding.

Follicle - A fluid-filled cyst in the ovary which contains the egg and produces female hormones.

Hysterosalpingogram - An x-ray of the fallopian tubes and uterus. Used to diagnose structural abnormalities.

Hysterosonogram - An ultrasound of the uterus during which fluid is instilled into the uterine cavity.

Hysteroscopy - An examination, which involves inserting a narrow scope through the cervical opening to examine the cervical canal, uterine cavity, and the areas where the fallopian tubes open into the uterus.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) - Laboratory procedure which involves the injection by microscopic guidance of a single sperm into a mature egg.

Intrauterine Insemination - A technique in which a small, soft tube is used to place sperm into the uterine cavity.

In Vitro Fertilization - An assisted reproductive technology which involves the process of combining the egg and sperm outside the human body to optimize chances for fertilization, after which the resulting embryo is transferred to the uterus.

Laparoscopy - A surgical procedure usually performed on an outpatient basis, during which a small scope is inserted into the abdomen for visualization of the female reproductive organs.

Luteal Phase Defect - A hormone imbalance present during the time after ovulation that may contribute to suboptimal implantation and pregnancy loss.

Motility - Percent of sperm in a specimen that are alive and moving.

Postcoital Test - A diagnostic test that evaluates the amount and quality of cervical mucus, and the interaction of sperm and cervical mucus.

Sperm Washing - A process which isolates the strongest, most active sperm from the dead sperm and the seminal fluid.

Ultrasound - A painless, high-frequency sound wave imaging process used for diagnosing problems of the uterus and ovaries, and for monitoring reproductive therapies.