Glossary of Fertility Terms
Adhesions: Scar tissue in or around the pelvic organs that may or may not interfere with fertility.
Artificial insemination: A technique in which semen is injected directly into a woman’s cervix during her most fertile time of the month.
Assisted Hatching: An in vitro procedure in which the zona pellucida of an embryo (usually at eight-cell stage or a blastocyst) is perforated by chemical, mechanical, or laser-assisted methods to assist separation of the blastocyst from the zona pellucida.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART): A term used to describe advanced interventions, such as IVF, that infertility specialists use to help egg meet sperm.
Beta hCG Test: A blood test used to detect very early pregnancies and to evaluate embryonic development.
Bicornuate Uterus: A congenital malformation of the uterus where the upper portion (horn) is duplicated.
Blastocyst: An embryo that is about five days old and which clearly displays an inner cell mass and trophectoderm layer upon visual observation.
Cervical Mucus: Mucus produced by the cervix that increases in quantity as ovulation approaches.
Clinical Embryologist: A laboratory technologist who is specially trained to handle and practice micromanipulation procedures on human eggs, sperm and embryos.
CO2 Laser laparoscopy: For minimal post-operative adhesion formation. Used endoscopically, the CO2 laser offers advantages over other operative techniques for endometriosis and adhesions.
Cryopreservation: The freezing and storage of gametes, zygotes, or embryos. A technique which uses extremely low temperature to preserve live tissue in storage for long periods of time. Cells are partially dehydrated and slowly brought to a temperature at which all cellular metabolic reactions cease. Upon thawing cells are rehydrated and slowly brought back to body temperature.
Cushing's Syndrome: A condition characterized by an overproduction of adrenal gland secretions. The person will suffer from high blood pressure and water retention as well as a number of other symptoms. A concurrent elevation of adrenal androgens will suppress pituitary output of LH and FSH and result in low sperm production or ovulatory failure. A woman may also develop male secondary sex characteristics, including abnormal hair growth. Cushing's Disease is another condition in which these same symptoms occur, but as the result of a pituitary tumor.
Donor Eggs: Eggs that are taken from a fertile woman and implanted in another woman.
Ectopic Pregnancy: When an embryo implants outside the uterus.
Endometriosis: A painful condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. Can be a cause of infertility when the lining of the uterus migrates to other regions of the body, usually in the pelvic region, causing scarring and sometimes damaging the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Endometrium: The lining of the uterus which grows and sheds in response to estrogen and progesterone stimulation; the bed of tissue designed to nourish the implanted embryo.
Fallopian Tubes: Ducts through which eggs travel to the uterus once released from the follicle. Sperm normally meet the egg in the fallopian tube, the site at which fertilization usually occurs.
Fertility drugs: Prescription drugs used alone or combined to induce ovulation, including clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene), hMG (Humegon, Metrodin or Pergonal) and GnRH analogs (Lupron, Synarel).
Fibroid (Myoma or Leiomyoma): A benign tumor of the uterine muscle and connective tissue.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates egg maturation in the ovaries.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): A technique that may be used in lieu of in vitro fertilization. The injection of one or more eggs mixed with washed sperm into the fallopian tube(s) in the hope that fertilization will occur.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): Scar tissue in or around the pelvic organs that may or may not interfere with fertility.
Hysterosalpinogram: An X-ray which involves injecting dye through the cervix into the uterus to determine if the fallopian tubes are open and the uterine cavity is normal.
Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which a thin, telescope-like instrument is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, allowing the doctor to see and photograph the area.
In vitro fertilization (IVF): An assisted reproductive technique that involves removing sperm and eggs, fertilizing them in a laboratory, then placing a fertilized egg in the uterus. IVF is also known as “test-tube” fertilization; sometimes used as a general term for GIFT, ZIFT, and other types of advanced reproductive technology.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): An artificial insemination technique in which sperm are put directly into a woman's uterus.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A micromanipulation procedure where a single sperm is injected into the egg to enable fertilization with very low sperm counts or with non-motile sperm.
Laparoscope: A small telescope that can be inserted into a hole in the abdominal wall for viewing the internal organs; the instrument used to perform a laparoscopy. Used to diagnose and treat a number of fertility problems including endometriosis, abdominal adhesions, and polycystic ovaries. Also used in egg retrieval for in vitro fertilization.
Laparoscopy: A procedure that involves insertion of a narrow, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen.
Luteinizing Hormone: A hormone that triggers ovulation.
Micromanipulation: A variety of mechanical procedures which are performed by trained Clinical Embryologists at a specially equipped microscope in order to perform microsurgery on single cells or embryos.
Motility: Term used to describe mobility, or swimming movements, of sperm.
Myomectomy: Surgery performed to remove fibroid tumors.
Oocyte Donation: An ART procedure performed with third-party oocytes.
Ovulation: When the ovaries release a mature egg that is ready for fertilization.
Ovulation induction: The stimulation of the ovaries by fertility drugs to release one or more eggs.
PreImplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): Screening of cells from preimplantation embryos for the detection of genetic and/or chromosomal disorders before embryo transfer.
Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS). Embryo biopsies specifically for aneuploidy screening .
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