Infertility Glossary


Adhesions:  Scar tissue in or around the pelvic organs that may or may not interfere with fertility.

Amenorrhea:  A condition in which a woman does not have menstrual periods.

Anovulation:  A condition in which a woman does not ovulate regularly.

Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH):  Blood test measuring ovarian reserve.

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 the egg meet sperm.

Azoospermia:  Absence of sperm from the seminal fluid.


Beta hCG Test:  A blood test used to detect pregnancy early in the first trimester and to evaluate embryonic development.

Bicornuate Uterus:  A congenital malformation of the uterus where the upper portion (horn) is duplicated.

Blastocyst:  An embryo that has progressed in development for a period of 5 days  and which clearly displays an inner cell mass and trophectoderm layer upon visual observation.


Clinical Embryologist:  A laboratory technologist that is specially trained to handle and practice micromanipulation procedures on human eggs, sperm and embryos.

Clomid:  A fertility drug or ovulation induction medication prescribed to women to stimulate ovulation.

CO2 Laser laparoscopy:  Allows for minimal post-operative adhesion formation.  Used endoscopically, the CO2 laser offers advantages over other operative techniques for endometriosis and adhesions.

Cryopreservation:   The process of freezing and storing eggs, sperm, and embryos for future use.



Donor Eggs: Eggs that are taken from a fertile woman and, once fertilized in the laboratory, 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.  This 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 an egg travels to the uterus once released from the ovary.   Sperm normally meet the egg in the fallopian tube, the site at which fertilization usually occurs.

Femara:  A fertility drug or ovulation induction medication prescribed to women to stimulate ovulation.

Fibroid (Myoma):  A benign tumor of the uterine muscle and connective tissue.

Follicle:  A group of cells forming a cavity in the ovary where the egg grows before it is released during ovulation.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates egg maturation in the ovaries.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET):  Process in which previously frozen embryos are thawed and transferred into the uterus.


Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG):   A hormone that can be used to trigger ovulation.

Hysterosalpinogram (HSG):  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 retrieved eggs following a stimulation cycle which are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory.  Once the fertilized egg has progressed over a period of days,  it is then transferred to 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 at peak fertility.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):  A micromanipulation procedure, done in the laboratory,  where a single sperm is injected into the egg to enable fertilization.  Often a technique used to overcome partners with very low sperm counts or with non-motile sperm.


Laparoscope:  A small surgical telescope that can be inserted through a small incision in the abdominal wall for viewing the internal organs. Used to diagnose and treat a number of fertility problems including endometriosis and abdominal adhesions. 

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.



Morphology:  The size and shape of the sperm.

Motility:  Term used to describe mobility, or swimming movements, of sperm.

Myomectomy:  Surgical procedure performed to remove fibroid tumors of the uterus.



Ovulation:  The release of a mature ovum (egg) from the ovary that is ready for fertilization.

Ovulation induction: The stimulation of the ovaries by fertility drugs to release one or more eggs.




Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A common hormonal condition in which an imbalance in the sex hormones may cause cycle abnormalities, skin and hair changes, obesity, infertility and other long-term health problems.  The name comes from the multiple small cysts which line the ovaries of most women with this disorder.

Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD):  Screening of cells from pre-implantation embryos for the detection of genetic and/or chromosomal disorders before embryo transfer.

Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening (PGS):   Embryo biopsies specifically for aneuploidy screening(embryos with an abnormal number of chromosomes).



Semen Analysis:  An analysis of the health and viability of a man's sperm. 



Varicocele:  A varicose vein in the scrotum that may impact the quality and the production of sperm.

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