When you are undergoing infertility appointments and treatments, you may encounter a lot of unfamiliar terminology. The following is a glossary of commonly used terms.
Assisted hatching – a small cut is made in the shell around the embryo just before transfer into the uterus.
Assisted reproductive technology – provides medical therapy for achieving pregnancy. This could include ovulation induction, intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization.
Baseline FSH and estradiol – this is a blood test to check egg quality and the outcome of treatment.
Blastocyst culture – extended growth of embryos in the laboratory to select the best and fewer embryos for transfer.
Chromosomes – structures that are located inside each cell in the body. These contain the genes that determine a person’s physical makeup.
Cryopreservation – freezing at a very low temperature. Sperm and embryos can be frozen for use at a later time. Cryopreservation of eggs is still considered experimental.
Ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy that implants and grows outside of the uterus. Most often in the fallopian tube.
Embryo – the earliest stage of development. It occurs after the sperm and egg have united.
Embryo transfer – placement of embryos into the uterus through the cervix after in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Egg retrieval (oocyte retrieval) – a procedure to collect the eggs from the ovaries. This is done with a needle through the vagina under anesthesia.
Endometrial biopsy – this test checks the response of the uterus to the hormones produced by the ovary and the effects of embryo implantation.
Endometriosis – a condition in which tissue very like to that which normally lines the uterus is found outside the uterus. It grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and other places in the pelvis.
Estrogen – the female sex hormone produced by the ovaries. It is responsible for development of female sex characteristics. It also stimulates the lining of the uterus to thicken during the first half of the cycle to prepare for a possible pregnancy.
Fallopian tubes – a pair of tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus.
Fibroids – benign (noncancerous) tumors of the uterine muscle wall. Can cause abnormal uterine bleeding and, in some cases, interfere with fertility.
Follicle – a fluid filled sac within the ovary that contains the egg. Follicles are visible on ultrasound exam. The egg is microscopic.
Hormone – a substance produced by the body that controls the functions of various organs.
Hydrosalpinx – a blocked, dilated, fluid filled fallopian tube.
Hysteroscopy – surgery to check the inside of the uterus.
Implantation – the process where an embryo embeds in the uterine lining in order to get nutrients and oxygen. This process is needed for the pregnancy to continue to grow.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – a procedure performed in an IVF cycle that injects a single sperm into an egg to achieve fertilization. Used when sperm is of poor quality.
Intra Uterine Insemination – a treatment in which semen is placed into a woman’s uterus to aid conception.
Laparoscopy – surgery to check the pelvic anatomy.
Miscarriage – the loss of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside of the uterus.
Ovaries – pair of glands located on either side of the uterus. They produce eggs and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Ovulation – the release of an egg from one of the ovaries.
Ovulation Inducing Therapy or Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation – the use of drugs to stimulate the ovaries to develop many eggs.
Ovarian Monitoring – the use of ultrasound and blood or urine tests to check ovarian follicle development and hormone production.
Post-coital Test – this is a test to check to check the cervical mucous and to assess the interaction with sperm.
Progesterone – a female hormone secreted by the corpus luteum in the ovary. It is produced in the second half of the cycle after ovulation. The hormone prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg.
Prolactin and TSH – these are blood tests that measure hormones needed for conception.
Semen Analysis – a microscopic evaluation of the semen (the ejaculate) to find the volume, the number of sperm (sperm count), their shapes (morphology) and their movement (motility).
Sonohysterogram (SHG) or Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – these tests involve the use of sterile water (SHG) or dye (HSG) to look at the anatomy of your uterus and fallopian tubes.
Testes – the two male reproductive glands located in the scrotum that produce testosterone and sperm.
Ultrasound – a test in which sound waves are used to examine internal organs.