The A-Z of fertility terms
The world of fertility and conception seems to have its own language. This glossary of reproductive and medical terms will help you make sense of the jargon.:
Amenorrhea:Absence of menstrual cycles, or periods.
Andrology:The branch of medicine concerned with men’s health, particularly male infertility and sexual dysfunction.
Anovulatory:When ovulation doesn’t occur.
Artifical insemination:Involves inserting sperm into the female’s cervix in order to improve the chances of pregnancy.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):Treatments and procedures involving the handling of eggs and sperm to establish a pregnancy. Types of ART include in vitro fertilisation (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and embryo cryopreservation.
Azoospermia:The absence of sperm in the ejaculate.
Basal body temperature (BBT):The lowest temperature attained by the body during rest. During ovulation, the BBT rises by 1/4 - 1/2°C.
Blastocyst:A thin-walled hollow structure in early embryonic stage that contains a cluster of cells called the inner cell mass from which the embryo (foetus) arises.
Cervical mucus:A fluid produced which either allows or stops sperm from entering the cervix and heading on towards the egg. Understanding the types of mucus produced throughout a cycle can help couples know the best time to conceive.
Clomid:Also known as clomiphene citrate, it is a medication taken by women to stimulate the release of hormones to bring on ovulation.
Donor egg (oocyte):Eggs collected from one woman and donated to another.
Donor sperm:Sperm produced from a man who is not the woman’s partner to be used for artificial insemination or IVF.
Egg collection:Surgical collection of eggs from the follicles in the ovary.
Egg timer test:A blood test and pelvic ultrasound scan to detect approximately how many eggs are left in a woman’s ovaries.
Ejaculate:Semen ejected from the penis.
Embryo:The organism in the early stages of development. After about eight weeks, it is referred to as a foetus.
Embryo cryopreservation:The deep-freezing of extra embryos made during an IVF cycle for future use.
Embryo transfer (ET):The placement of embryos into the uterus using a fine catheter.
Fibroids:A benign tumour of fibrous tissue that can occur in the uterine wall. They rarely cause infertility.
Foetus:The developing human after embryo stage from the ninth week of pregnancy to birth.
Follicle:The cells surrounding a developing egg in the ovary.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH):A hormone naturally produced by the pituitary gland in the brain which is essential for the growth of ovarian follicles in the woman and sperm production in the man.
Gamete:The male or female reproductive cells, the sperm or the egg.
GIFT:Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer is where sperm and an egg are placed into the fallopian tube to allow natural fertilisation. Rarely used today.
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG):A hormone produced by the placenta of a pregnant woman. It is detectable in the blood and urine within 10 days of fertilisation and forms the basis of all pregnancy tests.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI):This is the direct injection of a single sperm into the substance of the egg to produce fertilisation. This technique is used when there are very few sperm in the ejaculate, when the sperm show poor motility or abnormal structure, have been obtained from the testis or have previously failed to fertilise in conventional IVF treatments.
Implantation:The embedding of an embryo in the endometrium of the uterus.
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI):This fertility treatment is used when the woman’s fallopian tubes are healthy and more complex treatments are not appropriate and involves inserting the male partner’s concentrated semen through the neck of the womb and into the uterus close to the time of ovulation.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF):The procedure by which the egg from a female partner and the sperm from a male partner are mixed in the laboratory to achieve fertilisation. Healthy embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus.
Laparoscopy:A surgical investigation using a telescope-like instrument to have a look at the abdominal pelvic organs.
Luteinising hormone (LH):A hormone secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary (in the brain). Its main function is to mature and release the egg.
Oestrogen:A hormone produced by the ovary in increasing amounts prior to ovulation and by the placenta during pregnancy.
Oligospermia:An abnormally low number of sperm in the seminal fluid.
Oocyte:The egg cell produced in the ovary, also called ovum, egg or gamete.
Ovulation chart:Many women trying to conceive will make up this chart which records their body temperature, mucus consistency and menstrual dates.
Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS):The process of taking cells from an embryo to check the number of chromosomes or to test for a specific genetic abnormality.
Progesterone:Progesterone is an important hormone for its role in preparing and maintaining the lining of the uterus for implantation of the fertilised egg.
Sperm motility:The ability of sperm to move properly, or “swim”, towards an egg.
Unexplained infertility:This is when a couple cannot conceive but no cause has been found despite the routine testing of both the man and woman.
Related fertility and conception articles
- 7 surprising fertility facts
- Age and fertility
- Egg timer fertility test
- Fertility myths
- Ovulation monitoring
- Ovulation: Everything you need to know
- Ovulation - all you need to know
- Top baby-making sex tips
- Top conception tips
This article was written by Fiona Baker for Kidspot,New Zealand's best conception and pregnancy resource.
- 1. Assisted deliveries: Getting help when you need it
- 2. Important pregnancy decisions: Choosing the right birth partner
- 3. How to choose the perfect maternity bra for you
- 4. Choosing the best place to give birth
- 5. The truth about pregnancy skin
- 6. Exercise reduces C sections
- 7. What your partner needs to know about pregnancy
- 8. 10 ways to keep him interested in your pregnancy
- 9. Bonding with your bump: Ways to communicate with your baby
- 10. Car safety tips for pregnant drivers