Enzymes contained in the head of the sperm that allow the sperm to penetrate through the zona pellucida of the egg
Scarring that can occur in the abdomen or inside the uterus that can affect how the fallopian tubes and ovaries function.
A small gland above each kidney that secretes hormones that affect reproduction.
The absence of menstrual periods.
The absence of ovulation.
The total absence of ovulation.
Anti-mullerian hormone, or AMH, is a protein released by the ovaries and is related to the development of follicles in the ovary.
Proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight and destroy foreign substances and prevent infection.
The absence of semen and sperm in an ejaculate. This differs from azoospermia which is the absence of sperm in semen.
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.
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.
Absence of sperm in the semen.
An examination conducted before starting fertility treatment, used to determine the general position and condition of the ovaries and uterus.
Transfer of embryos that are developed for 5 to 6 days, until they reach blastocyst stage.
The changes that a sperm goes through to be capable of penetrating the zona pellucida layers covering the egg when fertilization is happening.
Mucus produced by the cervix. The amount and consistency of this mucus changes during the menstrual cycle.
The lowest part of the uterus, which opens into the vagina.
Occurs when a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus.
Fertilization: when the sperm meets and penetrates the egg.
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.
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.
The fluid which fills living cells and which contains essential cellular components including the nucleus.
A specially formulated solution used in the laboratory to promote growth and division of a fertilized egg until the embryo transfer takes place.
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.
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.
Artificial insemination with a donor’s sperm.
A pregnancy in which an embryo develops in a place other than the uterus, and cannot grow into a healthy pregnancy.
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.
The semen and sperm-containing fluid produced on ejaculation.
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.
The term used to describe developing offspring during the period between fertilization and organ formation.
The transfer of embryo(s) into the uterus.
A specialist in embryo development.
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.
The cycling lining of the uterus. This structure receives the implanting embryo.
The organ that stores sperm as they develop and pass from the testicles to the vas deferens.
The primary female hormone, produced mainly by developing ovarian follicles.
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.
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.
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.
The developing baby from the second month of pregnancy until birth.
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.
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.
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.
Male and female sex cells (sperm and eggs, respectively).
The fluid-filled sac in which the fetus develops. In early pregnancy ultrasound, this is seen first.
Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)
A hormone that signals the pituitary gland to release the gonadtropins LH and FSH.
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.
Male (testes) and female (ovaries) organs which produce sex cells.
A natural protein produced in one body tissue and carried via the bloodstream to initiate a response in another tissue.
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.
Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (HMG)
Gonadotropin (FSH and LH) preparations obtained from urine of post-menopausal women and commonly used in the treatment of infertility.
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.
A major control center within the brain. Among many functions, it regulates the secretion of gonadotropins (FSH and LH) by the pituitary.
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.
The term used when the cause of infertility cannot be explained.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visualization of reproductive organs using a fiberoptic scope inserted through a small abdominal incision at surgery.
Days of the menstrual cycle after ovulation when progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum.
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.
Luteinizing Hormone Surge (LH Surge)
The release of luteinizing hormone that causes release of a mature Jeff from the follicle.
A condition in which sperm production stops before mature sperm are developed.
Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding. In the absence of pregnancy, this normally occurs about once a month in the mature female.
Spontaneous loss of an embryo or fetus in the womb.
The physical structure and configuration of sperm cells.
The ability of sperm to swim or move. Poor motility means the sperm have a difficult time getting to the egg.
A pregnancy with two or more fetuses.
Abnormally low numbers of sperm in the ejaculate of the male.
The female sex cell ovulated at the end of each reproductive cycle.
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.
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.
The female gonad containing the eggs (one egg per ovarian follicle). This structure also provides the chief source of estrogens and progesterone.
Medical treatment to start (induce) ovulation.
The male organ of sexual intercourse.
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.
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.
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.
A group of hormone-like chemicals that have various effects on reproductive organs.
An ovary that fails to respond to Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) stimulation. See Decreased Ovarian Reserve.
The sac containing the testicles, epididymis, and vas deferens.
The sperm and seminal fluids ejaculated during male orgasm.
The male reproductive cells that carry genetic information to the female’s egg.
The number of sperm in an ejaculate. Also called sperm concentration and given as the number of sperm per millimetre.
Part of a semen analysis test that checks the number of sperm that appear to have been formed normally.
The ability of sperm to move or “swim” towards the egg.
A technique that separates the sperm from the seminal fluid. It allows the isolation of the “best” sperm to be used for intrauterine insemination.
The process of sperm production (within the testis).
An agent that kills sperm.
An irreversible condition that prevents conception.
Subcutaneous (sc) Injection
Delivering medication with a fine small needle into tissue just below the surface of the skin.
The male gonad, functioning to produce mature sperm as well as the hormone testosterone.
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.
The male hormone needed for the production of sperm.
Tubal Pregnancy (a type of Ectopic pregnancny)
The development and attachment of an embryo in a fallopian tube.
A medical imaging technique used to visualize the reproductive organs. Transvaginal ultrasound may be used to monitor follicular development.
Infertility where all test results are found to be normal.
A physician who specializes in male factor infertility and the surgical treatment of disorders of the urinary tract and male reproductive tract.
The hollow muscular organ where the fetus grows until birth.
A muscular opening in a woman extending from the vulva (the female external genitals) to the cervix of the uterus.
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.
The tube that carries sperm from the testicles (epididymis) to the penis.
Surgical sterilization of a man by cutting, burning or crushing their vas deferens.
Surgical repair of a previous vasectomy for a man who wants to regain his fertility.
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.
A proteinaceous barrier surrounding eggs and embryos. This is penetrated by sperm prior too fertilization.
A fertilized egg which has not yet divided.