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    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Acrosome

    Enzymes contained in the head of the sperm that allow the sperm to penetrate through the zona pellucida of the egg

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Adhesions

    Scarring that can occur in the abdomen or inside the uterus that can affect how the fallopian tubes and ovaries function.

     

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    A

    Adrenal Gland

    A small gland above each kidney that secretes hormones that affect reproduction.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Amenorrhea

    The absence of menstrual periods.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Anovulation

    The absence of ovulation.

     

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    A

    Anovulation

    The total absence of ovulation.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Anti-mullerian hormone

    Anti-mullerian hormone, or AMH, is a protein released by the ovaries and is related to the development of follicles in the ovary.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Antibodies

    Proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight and destroy foreign substances and prevent infection.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Aspermia

    The absence of semen and sperm in an ejaculate. This differs from azoospermia which is the absence of sperm in semen.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Assisted Hatching

    The use of micromanipulation procedures to create an opening in the zona pellucida of the embryo. This is often used as part of an IVF procedure. It is done in the lab.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    A

    Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

    The term for fertility treatments in which a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm are handled outside the human body. These include IVF, IUI, donor egg or donor sperm cycles.

     

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    A

    Azoospermia

    Absence of sperm in the semen.

     

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    B

    Baseline Ultrasound

    An examination conducted before starting fertility treatment, used to determine the general position and condition of the ovaries and uterus.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    B

    Blastocyst Transfer

    Transfer of embryos that are developed for 5 to 6 days, until they reach blastocyst stage.

     

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    C

    Capacitation

    The changes that a sperm goes through to be capable of penetrating the zona pellucida layers covering the egg when fertilization is happening.

     

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    C

    Cervical Mucus

    Mucus produced by the cervix. The amount and consistency of this mucus changes during the menstrual cycle.

     

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    C

    Cervix

    The lowest part of the uterus, which opens into the vagina.

     

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    C

    Chemical Pregnancy

    Occurs when a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    C

    Conception

    Fertilization: when the sperm meets and penetrates the egg.

     

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    C

    Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) or Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation (COH)

    Stimulating the ovaries with various medications to develop an optimal number of follicles. Medications may also be used to control the timing of ovulation.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    C

    Corpus Luteum

    A structure on the ovary which forms from a follicle after the egg has ovulated. This corpus luteum is where progesterone is produced from until a pregnancy is established to 8 weeks. (including progesterone), functions to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.

     

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    C

    Cryopreservation

    The fluid which fills living cells and which contains essential cellular components including the nucleus.

     

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    C

    Culture Media

    A specially formulated solution used in the laboratory to promote growth and division of a fertilized egg until the embryo transfer takes place.

     

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    C

    Cyst

    A fluid-filled structure that can be seen in the ovary. It can be of a large range of sizes and there can be more than one. Many of theses simple cysts come and go as part of the normal function of the ovary and egg. They are very common. Other types of cysts are called endometriomas. They are the collection of endometriosis on the ovary.

     

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    D

    Decreased Ovarian Reserve

    Decreased ovarian reserve is a decrease in the quantity or quality of oocytes, leading to impaired fertility. Ovarian reserve may begin to decrease at age 30 or even earlier and decreases rapidly after age 40. Ovarian lesions also decrease reserve. Although older age is a risk factor for decreased ovarian reserve, age and decreased ovarian reserve are each independent predictors of infertility and thus of a poorer response to fertility treatment.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    D

    Donor Insemination

    Artificial insemination with a donor’s sperm.

     

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    E

    Ectopic Pregnancy

    A pregnancy in which an embryo develops in a place other than the uterus, and cannot grow into a healthy pregnancy.

     

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    E

    Egg Retrieval

    A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for in vitro fertilization. This is performed through the vagina using ultrasound to locate the follicle in the ovary.

     

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    E

    Ejaculate

    The semen and sperm-containing fluid produced on ejaculation.

     

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    E

    Electroejaculation

    A procedure using electrical stimulation to induce ejaculation in a man with damage to the nerves that control ejaculation. Commonly used in men with spinal cord injury in order to obtain sperm to use for artificial insemination.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    E

    Embryo

    The term used to describe developing offspring during the period between fertilization and organ formation.

     

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    E

    Embryo Transfer

    The transfer of embryo(s) into the uterus.

     

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    E

    Embryologist

    A specialist in embryo development.

     

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    E

    Endometriosis

    The presence of endometrial tissue (the cycling tissue which lines the uterus) at sites outside the uterus. These sites usually include the fallopian tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity. The condition is associated with pelvic pain, pain during menstruation and infertility.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    E

    Endometrium

    The cycling lining of the uterus. This structure receives the implanting embryo.

     

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    E

    Epididymis

    The organ that stores sperm as they develop and pass from the testicles to the vas deferens.

     

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    E

    Estrogen

    The primary female hormone, produced mainly by developing ovarian follicles.

     

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    F

    Fallopian Tubes

    The structures which lie between the ovaries and uterus. They normally receive the ovulated egg and provide the site for fertilization and early embryo development.

     

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    F

    Fertility Specialist or Reproductive Endocrinologist

    A doctor specializing in the treatment of people with fertility problems. These Obstetrician/Gynecologists receive extra training in the study of hormones and fertility.

     

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    F

    Fertilization

    The process that results when an egg and sperm combine to create a zygote (which later divides to become an embryo). With natural conception, fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes. With in vitro fertilization, it occurs in a laboratory dish. With intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) it occurs after the injection of the sperm into the egg.

     

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    F

    Fetus

    The developing baby from the second month of pregnancy until birth.

     

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    F

    Fibroid

    Benign (not malignant or life-threatening) tutor of fibrous tissue that can occur in the uterine wall. It may exist totally without symptoms or may cause abnormal menstrual patterns or infertility.

     

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    F

    Follicle

    The structure which houses the egg and subsequently fosters its development and ultimate ovulation. At birth, there are in excess of 100,000 follicles per female ovary. This number decreases continuously throughout life.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    F

    Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

    Gonadotropic hormone released from the pituitary gland and functioning to stimulate ovarian follicular growth and development. The same hormone plays an essential role in male sperm production.

     

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    G

    Gametes

    Male and female sex cells (sperm and eggs, respectively).

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    G

    Gestational Sac

    The fluid-filled sac in which the fetus develops. In early pregnancy ultrasound, this is seen first.

     

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    G

    Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

    A hormone that signals the pituitary gland to release the gonadtropins LH and FSH.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    G

    Gonadotropins

    Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Hormones produced by the pituitary gland and which stimulate egg and sperm development in the ovaries and testicles repectively. Purified forms of these hormones are obtained from urine or genetically engineered cells.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    G

    Gonads

    Male (testes) and female (ovaries) organs which produce sex cells.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    H

    Hormone

    A natural protein produced in one body tissue and carried via the bloodstream to initiate a response in another tissue.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    H

    Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

    The hormone produced in early pregnancy and released by the placenta after implantation. This keeps the corpus lute producing estradiol and progesterone and thus prevents menstruation.

     

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    H

    Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (HMG)

    Gonadotropin (FSH and LH) preparations obtained from urine of post-menopausal women and commonly used in the treatment of infertility.

     

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    H

    Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism (HH)

    This is a rare condition in which impaired activity of the hypothalamus or pituitary glands results in the below-normal function of the gonads (female ovaries and male testicles). This also results in abnormally low levels of the hormones normally produced, i.e. FSH and LH, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    H

    Hypothalamus

    A major control center within the brain. Among many functions, it regulates the secretion of gonadotropins (FSH and LH) by the pituitary.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    H

    Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

    An X-ray using dye to view the shape of the uterus and the fallopian tubes. If the dye passes freely from the uterus through the fallopian tubes, the fallopian tubes are considered open.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    I

    Idiopathic Infertility

    The term used when the cause of infertility cannot be explained.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    I

    Implantation

    The attachment of the embryo to the endometrium of the maternal uterus. This process ultimately gives rise to the placenta (respiratory and excretory system of the developing fetus).

     

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    I

    In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

    The generation of embryos outside the body by mixing eggs and sperm in tubes or dishes containing defined culture media. In the treatment of human infertility, IVF defines a multi-step process including: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, insemination of eggs in culture tubes or dishes containing defined media and transfer of resulting embryos back to the uterus.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    I

    Infertility

    The inability of a couple to achieve pregnancy through frequent natural intercourse after 6-12 months of trying. It can also be applied to the inability of the woman to carry a pregnancy to term.

     

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    I

    Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

    The technique of injecting one sperm into the cytoplasm of the egg. It is used during IVF most commonly for treatment of male factor infertility.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    I

    Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

    A procedure in which sperm is directly placed into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. Most often used as a treatment for unexplained infertility and mild male factor.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    L

    Laparoscopy

    Visualization of reproductive organs using a fiberoptic scope inserted through a small abdominal incision at surgery.

     

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    L

    Luteal Phase

    Days of the menstrual cycle after ovulation when progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum.

     

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    L

    Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

    A pituitary gonadotropic hormone which plays an essential role improving the development of sex cells (both eggs and sperm). A surge of LH causes final egg maturation and ovulation.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    L

    Luteinizing Hormone Surge (LH Surge)

    The release of luteinizing hormone that causes release of a mature Jeff from the follicle.

     

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    M

    Maturation Arrest

    A condition in which sperm production stops before mature sperm are developed.

     

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    M

    Menstruation

    Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding. In the absence of pregnancy, this normally occurs about once a month in the mature female.

     

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    M

    Miscarriage

    Spontaneous loss of an embryo or fetus in the womb.

     

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    M

    Morphology

    The physical structure and configuration of sperm cells.

     

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    M

    Motility

    The ability of sperm to swim or move. Poor motility means the sperm have a difficult time getting to the egg.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    M

    Multiple Pregnancy

    A pregnancy with two or more fetuses.

     

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    O

    Oligospermia

    Abnormally low numbers of sperm in the ejaculate of the male.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    O

    Oocyte

    The female sex cell ovulated at the end of each reproductive cycle.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    O

    Ovarian Failure

    The failure of the ovary to response to FSH stimulation from the pituitary. This may be due to damage or malformation of the ovary, or a chronic or autoimmune disease. Diagnosed by elevated FSH levels in the blood.

     

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    O

    Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

    Severe ovarian enlargement accompanied by fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. This may occur with or without pain, and with or without accumulation of fluid in the lungs. OHSS is caused when the ovaries become overstimulated by the various hormones that cause follicular development.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    O

    Ovary

    The female gonad containing the eggs (one egg per ovarian follicle). This structure also provides the chief source of estrogens and progesterone.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    O

    Ovulation Induction

    Medical treatment to start (induce) ovulation.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    P

    Penis

    The male organ of sexual intercourse.

     

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    P

    Pituitary Gland

    The “Master” gland which ultimately controls virtually every other endocrine gland in the body. Through gonadotropin (FSH and LH) secretion, the pituitary regulates sex cell development by testes and ovaries.

     

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    P

    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

    This common reproductive endocrine disorder involves the ovaries producing excessive amounts of androgens, which prevents regular egg development. Despite the name, not all women with PCOS have small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in their ovaries which are visible on ultrasound.

     

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    P

    Progesterone

    A hormone which plays a central role in the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Initially, it is secreted by the corpus luteum (a structure from where the egg ovulated from) to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Later, it is secreted by the placenta to maintain pregnancy.

     

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    P

    Prostaglandins

    A group of hormone-like chemicals that have various effects on reproductive organs.

     

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    R

    Resistant Ovary

    An ovary that fails to respond to Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) stimulation. See Decreased Ovarian Reserve.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    S

    Scrotum

    The sac containing the testicles, epididymis, and vas deferens.

     

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    S

    Semen

    The sperm and seminal fluids ejaculated during male orgasm.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    S

    Sperm

    The male reproductive cells that carry genetic information to the female’s egg.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    S

    Sperm Count

    The number of sperm in an ejaculate. Also called sperm concentration and given as the number of sperm per millimetre.

     

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    S

    Sperm Morphology

    Part of a semen analysis test that checks the number of sperm that appear to have been formed normally.

     

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    S

    Sperm Motility

    The ability of sperm to move or “swim” towards the egg.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    S

    Sperm Wash

    A technique that separates the sperm from the seminal fluid. It allows the isolation of the “best” sperm to be used for intrauterine insemination.

     

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    S

    Spermatogenesis

    The process of sperm production (within the testis).

     

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    S

    Spermicide

    An agent that kills sperm.

     

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    S

    Sterility

    An irreversible condition that prevents conception.

     

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    S

    Subcutaneous (sc) Injection

    Delivering medication with a fine small needle into tissue just below the surface of the skin.

     

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    T

    Testes

    The male gonad, functioning to produce mature sperm as well as the hormone testosterone.

     

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    T

    Testicular Failure

    A condition in which the testes do not produce sperm or testosterone. This condition may have existed at birth or develop later in life or be caused by trauma or damage to the testicles. It may lead to male infertility.

     

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    T

    Testosterone

    The male hormone needed for the production of sperm.

     

    Component: Glossary List Item Categories:
    T

    Tubal Pregnancy (a type of Ectopic pregnancny)

    The development and attachment of an embryo in a fallopian tube.

     

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    U

    Ultrasound

    A medical imaging technique used to visualize the reproductive organs. Transvaginal ultrasound may be used to monitor follicular development.

     

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    U

    Unexplained Infertility

    Infertility where all test results are found to be normal.

     

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    U

    Urologist

    A physician who specializes in male factor infertility and the surgical treatment of disorders of the urinary tract and male reproductive tract.

     

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    U

    Uterus

    The hollow muscular organ where the fetus grows until birth.

     

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    V

    Vagina

    A muscular opening in a woman extending from the vulva (the female external genitals) to the cervix of the uterus.

     

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    V

    Varicocele

    A common condition in which the veins that carry blood out of the scrotum become dilated. When blood pools in these veins, the temperature in the scrotum increases. This may be a cause of male infertility.

     

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    V

    Vas Deferens

    The tube that carries sperm from the testicles (epididymis) to the penis.

     

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    V

    Vasectomy

    Surgical sterilization of a man by cutting, burning or crushing their vas deferens.

     

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    V

    Vasectomy Reversal

    Surgical repair of a previous vasectomy for a man who wants to regain his fertility.

     

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    V

    Vitrification

    This is the process of freezing eggs, sperm and embryos in the laboratory. It is rapid freezing and has very little negative effects on the eggs, sperm or embryos.

     

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    Z

    Zona Pellucida

    A proteinaceous barrier surrounding eggs and embryos. This is penetrated by sperm prior too fertilization.

     

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    Z

    Zygote

    A fertilized egg which has not yet divided.