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      Glossary of Terms

      A

      Amenorrhea

      When menstruation is absent for more than six months.

      American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)

      A group of reproductive and fertility specialists that teach, research and advocate for reproductive medicine.

      Anovulation

      A lack of ovulation that can occur with or without menstruation.

      Antibodies

      Substances that attack foreign matter in the body and fight infection. This also can sometimes cause infertility.

      Artificial Insemination (AI)

      Injecting a sperm directly into a female’s vagina, cervix or uterus to fertilize an egg.

      Asherman’s Syndrome

      A condition in which scar tissue forms in the uterus, leading to an irregular menstrual cycle or possibly infertility.

      Aspiration

      When fluid or tissue is suctioned from the body with a tube or needle.

      Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

      Fertility treatments that involve both the egg and sperm, including IUI, IVF, GIFT, and ZIFT.

      B

      Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

      When a temperature is taken first thing in the morning after waking up that rises and falls because of changes in hormone levels in a menstrual cycle.

      Beta hCG Test

      A blood test measuring hCG levels in early pregnancy.

      Bromocriptine (Parlodel)

      A medication treating pituitary tumors and reduces levels of prolactin.

      C

      Canceled cycle

      When an ART cycle is stopped due to issues with follicle development, lack of fertilization, or other problems.

      Cervical mucus

      Mucus found in the cervix that changes consistency during the menstrual cycle.

      Cervical smear

      A cellular sample taken from the cervix to screen for abnormalities and cancer.

      Cervix

      A one inch canal located above the vagina at the lower end of the uterus through which sperm travels into to reach the fallopian tubes, and the baby passes through during birth.

      Chromosome

      Our genetic material held in a structure.

      Cilia

      Hair-like structures that move the egg into the fallopian tubes.

      Clomiphene citrate

      A medication that creates a surge of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland and boosts fertility by stimulating ovulation.

      Corpus luteum

      Endocrine tissue secreting progesterone when ovulation is over and pregnancy occurs to boost implantation.

      Cryopreservation

      Using a freezing environment to preserve eggs, embryos and sperm for fertility treatment and ART.

      Cycle

      A round of fertility that typically takes a month from start to finish.

      Cyst

      A sac surrounded by a membrane that may lead to health problems.

      D

      Donor egg

      Donated eggs by healthy young women that are implanted into infertile women to get pregnant.

      Donor sperm

      Donated sperm by healthy men who are screened for illnesses, ethnicity, build and other traits; typically is frozen and held for 6+ months before being used in artificial insemination or ART.

      E

      Egg

      Female sex cell/female gamete that is fertilized by sperm during reproduction (also called ovum).

      Egg retrieval

      When egg is removed from the ovarian follicles using a thin needle for ICSI, IVF or other procedures.

      Embryo transfer

      When a fertilized egg (embryo) is placed into the uterus using a catheter after IVF and other ART procedures.

      Embryo

      The human fetus in early stage, between implantation and 8 weeks of pregnancy.

      Endocrinology

      The study of hormones, glands, hormonal systems, and how they correlate together.

      Endometrial biopsy

      A sample taken from the uterine lining (endometrium) to screen for abnormalities.

      Endometriosis

      A condition in which endometrial tissue is present in abnormal locations, like fallopian tubes, ovaries, and peritoneal cavity, which often causes painful menstruation and infertility.

      Endometrium

      The uterus lining.

      Endorphins

      Substances in the body that create opiate like feeling, such as pain relief.

      Estradiol

      An hormone containing estrogen secreted by the ovaries.

      Estrogen

      A hormone that stimulates the development of female sex characteristics.

      F

      Fallopian tube

      Tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus where the egg is released during ovulation and then becomes fertilized by the sperm.

      Fertility preservation

      Ways to cryofreeze today’s eggs or embryos for use at a later date.  Also known as oocyte preservation.

      Fertility specialist

      Doctors treat infertility, like a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

      Fertilization

      When an egg and sperm join to create a pregnancy.

      Fetus

      The name for the embryo from 8 weeks after implantation until birth.

      Fibroid

      A benign tumor found in the uterine wall made of muscle cells and other tissues. (also called a myoma).

      Follicle

      The please where a woman’s egg grows and develops monthly in the ovary. The follicle releases the egg into the fallopian tube during ovulation.

      Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)

      A hormone that stimulates ovarian follicles to grow from the pituitary gland.

      Follicular phase

      The first phase of the menstrual cycle, when bleeding begins and ovarian follicles develop at day 1.

      Follicular fluid

      Fluid where the egg lives inside of the ovarian follicles.

      Follistim

      A medication that helps recruit eggs during an egg freezing, IVF or an intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle.

      G

      Gonad

      Reproductive glands that produce hormones and sex cells (eggs and sperm); in women, the ovaries, and in males, the testes.

      Gonadotropin

      Hormones that encourage follicular and egg development used during ovulation induction.

      Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

      The hypothalamus secretes this hormone, helping release gonadotropins (LH and FSH), which stimulate the testicles or ovaries.

      Gonal-F

      A medication prescribed to recruit eggs during an egg freezing, IVF or an intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle.

      H

      Hirsutism

      A condition in which women have excess body and facial hair, due to high levels of androgens; this often occurs with PCOS.

      Hormonal assay

      A test that checks for levels of hormones like FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), DHEA S (dehydroepiandresterone), prolactin and progesterone.

      Hormone

      A chemical produced in one organ that regulates activities of other organs in the body.

      Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)

      A hormone helps to maintain progesterone levels in early pregnancy that is sometimes used to trigger ovulation.

      Human menopausal gonadotropin (HMG)

      A hormone made of LH and FSH that is used to stimulate ovulation.

      Hyperprolactinemia

      High amounts of prolactin in the blood that can suppress LH and FSH production; this often affects male and female fertility.

      Hyperstimulation (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome “OHSS”)

      A serious complication during medically induced ovulation where the ovaries swell, causing mild to severe side effects.

      Hyperthyroidism

      A condition in which the thyroid has excessive activity that can affect female ovulation and fertility.

      Hypoestrogenic

      When estrogen levels are lower than normal.

      Hypothalamus

      The part of the brain that secretes GnRH, enabling the release of LH and FSH to stimulate the ovaries and testes.

      Hypothyroidism

      A condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to a slow metabolism and fatigue, and possibly impaired fertility.

      Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

      An x-ray exam in which a special dye is injected into the uterus to observe the uterus and fallopian tubes.

      Hysteroscope

      A device, similar to a laparoscope that examines the interior of the cervix and uterus.

      I

      Implantation

      When the egg embeds into the uterine lining after fertilization and starts to develop as an embryo.

      In vitro fertilization (IVF)

      A procedure in which one or more eggs, each removed from a ripe follicle, is fertilized by a sperm outside the human body.

      Injectables

      Fertility medications that are injected into the body, usually for artificial insemination.

      Insemination

      When a sperm is introduced into a woman’s body for fertilization.

      L


      Laparoscope

      A telescopic instrument that is used for viewing of the pelvis, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes by inserting into a small incision in the abdomen.

      Luteinizing hormone (LH)

      A hormone that stimulates the ovary to release an egg during ovulation in females and stimulates testosterone production in males.

      LH surge

      A surge of LH after an egg is released from a follicle in the ovaries.

      Luteal phase

      The final phase of the menstrual cycle after ovulation that ends with pregnancy or menses, lasting between 12-14 days.

      M

      Menopur

      A medication that helps recruit and mature eggs during an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle.

      Menorrhagia

      A very heavy menstrual flow, or menses that lasts longer than usual.

      Menstruation

      The monthly cycle of bleeding when the uterine lining is shed after a woman does not get pregnant (also called menses, menstrual cycle).

      Metrorrhagia

      An appearance of bleeding or spotting in the middle of menstruation.

      Mittleschmerz

      A slight pain or cramping low in the abdomen that happens in women during ovulation.

      Myomectomy

      The surgical procedure that removes benign fibroid tumors from the uterine wall.

      O


      Oligmenorrhea

      Menstrual periods occurring less frequently than normal.

      Oocyte

      The female sex cell produced in the ovaries (also see egg, ovum, gamete).

      Oocyte retrieval

      A surgical procedure extract eggs in which a needle is inserted into the ovarian follicles.

      Ovarian failure

      When levels of FSH in the blood are elevated, usually showing a lack of ovarian response to FSH stimulation.

      Ovarian cyst

      A fluid filled sac in the ovary that can can be benign or problematic; it may cause pain and can be an indicator of PCOS if there are multiple cysts.

      Ovarian Torsion

      A condition that may cause lower abdominal pain in women. This is typically caused by further complications, such as an internal hemorrhage, hyperstimulation, or a mass.

      Ovary

      Female sex glands that produce eggs (ova) and female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).

      Ovulation

      When the ovary releases a mature egg in the middle of the menstrual cycle, often around day 14.

      Ovulation induction

      Use of a group of medications (fertility drugs) to improve hormone levels and/or boost the development and release of eggs during fertility treatment.

      Ovulatory failure (anovulation)

      Lack of ovulation during the menstrual cycle (no egg is released for fertilization).

      Ovulatory phase

      Occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle; the release of the egg for fertilization.

      Ovum

      Female sex cell that contains genetic material for the embryo (also called egg, gamete).

      P


      Pap test

      A test that helps detect abnormal cells in the cervix that may be cancerous.

      Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

      An infection within the pelvis that may cause fever, pain and possibly infertility; this can also lead to scar tissue and/or tubal problems.

      Pituitary gland

      Also know as the “master gland of the endocrine system”, this gland is located at the base of the brain, and releases and regulates the body’s hormones.

      Premature ovarian failure (POF)

      A condition associated with high levels of gonadotropins and low levels of estrogen, usually causing menstruation to end before age 40.

      Progesterone

      A hormone produced by the corpus luteum in the ovary that prepares the uterus for pregnancy after ovulation.

      Prolactin

      A hormone that helps women to make breastmilk after giving birth; in women that are not nursing, abnormal levels of this hormone can hinder ovulation, possibly causing infertility.

      R


      Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI)

      A doctor that is trained in obstetrics and gynecology, and also board certified in reproductive endocrinology; the study of fertility, glands and hormones.

      S


      Sonogram (ultrasound)

      High frequency sound waves used to monitor pregnancy and observe images of internal body parts to detect any irregularities.

      Sperm

      Sex cell in men carried in semen that holds male genetic information (also called gamete).

      Sperm Bank

      A place where sperm are stored frozen in liquid nitrate to be thawed for later use in insemination and ART procedures.

      Sterility

      A condition when one is unable to conceive.

      Superovulation

      Using fertility drugs to stimulate a woman to release multiple eggs (also known as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation or COH).

      Surrogate mother

      A woman who gets pregnant and gives birth for a couple who cannot get pregnant on their own.

      T


      Tubal Ligation

      A permanent form of female birth control where the fallopian tubes are cut or tied, making the woman sterile.

      U



      Ultrasound

      High frequency sound waves used to monitor pregnancy and observe images of internal body parts to detect any abnormalities (also called sonogram).

      Unicornuate uterus

      An abnormal uterus characterized by a smaller size and a single horn shape that can cause discomfort and infertility.

      Uterine tube

      One of two tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus where the egg is released during ovulation, waiting to be fertilized (also called fallopian tube).

      Uterus

      A muscular organ that contains, protects and nourishes the embryo and fetus during pregnancy (also known as the womb).

      V


      Vaginal ultrasound

      The process of placing a probe into the vagina and using sound waves to view follicles, ovaries, eggs, fetus, and other internal organs.

      Vaginitis

      A fungal or bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the vagina which may lead to irritation and discharge.

      Venereal disease

      Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and others that can lead to illness and infertility.

      Z


      Zygote

      The early stage of the fertilized egg before division occurs.

      Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

      An ART procedure in which a fertilized egg is transferred into the fallopian tube 1 day after fertilization.