Glossary

Abscess: A collection of pus due to infection that can occur in any part of the body.

Abstinence: The refusal to partake in sexual intercourse.

Adhesions: Scar tissue that forms within the body as a result of surgery, infection, or disease.

Amenorrhea: The lack of menstrual periods.

Androgen: Male hormones—for example, testosterone—produced by the testicles and responsible for male characteristics.

Anesthesia: The relief of pain and loss of sensation due to special medication or techniques.

Antibiotics: Medications that are used to treat and cure infections.

Antibody: A protein found in the bloodstream that has been produced by the immune system as a reaction to a foreign substance.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART): All treatments, procedures, and medical assistance that involve the handling of human eggs and sperm for the purpose of helping a woman become pregnant.

Autoimmune disease: A medical condition whereby the body attacks its own tissues.

Azoospermia: The complete absence of sperm during ejaculation.

Basal body temperature (BBT): The body temperature taken upon awakening first thing in the morning, prior to any activity.

Biopsy: A minor surgical procedure to remove a small piece of tissue, which is then taken to the laboratory, where it is examined and analyzed under a microscope.

Blighted ovum: An egg that does not develop properly and is typically miscarried.

Cervical mucus: The normal secretions formed by the glands within the cervix. They change in texture and consistency with the hormone fluctuations of the menstrual cycle.

Cervix: The lower and narrow end of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina and connects the uterus to the vagina.

Chlamydia: A sexually transmitted disease that can cause infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and various problems during pregnancy.

Chromosome: A tiny structure within the cell's center (nucleus) that contains the genetic material which determines a person's physical traits.

Cloning: An involved scientific technique that creates a duplicate copy of a cell.

Corpus luteum: After ovulation, the empty follicle that once encased the egg. This tiny structure produces hormones and typically has a life span of about two weeks, at which time the menstrual period begins. If a pregnancy occurs, this structure will continue to produce hormones for many weeks.

Cryopreservation: The process of freezing and storing (in liquid nitrogen) eggs, sperm, or embryos for future use.

Cytoplasm: The material within a cell that surrounds the nucleus and provides the cell with energy.

Cytoplasmic transfer: A technique that removes the cytoplasm from a donor egg and injects it into the intended mother's egg.

Diethylstilbestrol (DES): A synthetic estrogen used between 1940 and 1970 to prevent miscarriage. Its use was discontinued because it has been linked with causing certain birth defects in the offspring.

Dilation and curettage (D&C): A procedure in which the cervix is opened and the inner contents and lining of the uterus are scraped or suctioned.

Donor eggs: Eggs that are taken from the ovaries of a fertile woman and donated to another woman to be used for an ART procedure.

Dysmenorrhea: Painful or crampy menstrual period.

Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy that is growing outside of the uterus, such as in the fallopian tubes, the abdomen, the cervix, or an ovary.

Eggs: The female sex cells produced by the ovaries. When fertilized by sperm, they produce embryos.

Ejaculation: Semen that is emitted from the male's penis during sexual climax.

Embryo: The term for a developing fertilized egg during the first six to eight weeks of pregnancy. After this time, it is typically referred to as a fetus.

Endometriosis: A condition where the tissue that lines the uterus implants outside of the uterine cavity in such locations as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures. It can grow with hormonal stimulation, cause pain, scar tissue, and lead to infertility.

Endometrium: The inner lining of the uterus that grows and sheds according to hormonal stimulation during the menstrual cycle.

Epididymis: The long, thin, hollow duct system within the scrotum, where maturing sperm leave the testicles and continue to develop until they are ready to fertilize an egg.

Estrogen: A female hormone responsible for many female physical traits.

Fallopian tubes: A pair of tubes that retrieve and carry the eggs from the ovaries into the uterus. Fertilization typically occurs within the fallopian tubes.

Fertilization: The fusion of the male's sperm and the female's egg to form an embryo.

Fibroids: Noncancerous (benign) muscular growths that form on the inside or outside of the uterus. They may cause no symptoms but could potentially cause abnormal bleeding or pain.

Flow cytometer: A scientific instrument used to measure various traits of individual cells.

Follicle: The saclike structure within the ovary that holds the egg. It ruptures and empties upon release of the egg in the process known as ovulation.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A hormone that is made by the pituitary gland in the brain. It causes growth and development of eggs in women and sperm production in men.

Gamete: An egg or sperm cell.

Genes: The genetic material or DNA "blueprints" that code for specific traits, such as hair and eye color.

Genital herpes: A sexually transmitted disease caused by a virus that produces painful and very contagious sores around the external sex organs.

Gestational surrogate: A woman who is pregnant with an embryo that has been derived from the egg and sperm of people not related to her. Therefore, she has no genetic relationship with the baby.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): A hormone secreted by a part of the brain (called the hypothalamus) that stimulates the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH hormones.

Gonadotropins: The type of hormones (such as FSH and LH) that are made by the brain's pituitary gland and control reproductive function in both men and women.

Gonorrhea: A sexually transmitted disease that may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and arthritis.

Hirsutism: Extra hair on a woman's face, abdomen, or chest caused by extraordinary high levels of male hormone, usually testosterone.

Hormone: A chemical substance produced within the body to trigger a specific activity in another part of the body.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone produced by the placenta early in pregnancy, used as the basis of pregnancy tests. This hormone is also given to fertility patients to trigger ovulation.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV): A virus that attacks the body's immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Hypothalamus: A small area in the brain that works with the pituitary gland to regulate the producing and release of many hormones in the body

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): A test performed to evaluate the shape of the uterine cavity and to determine if the fallopian tubes are blocked. A fluid with dye is injected through the cervix and into the uterus; the fluid's pathway is tracked with x-ray

Hysteroscope: A telescope-like instrument that is passed through the cervix into the uterus, so the doctor can assess the cervix and inside of the uterus for defects or disease.

Infertility: A condition whereby a couple has been unable to become pregnant after 12 months of regular heterosexual intercourse without the use of any form of birth control.

Insemination: The insertion of sperm into a woman's body or into eggs in a laboratory to achieve a pregnancy.

Insulin: A hormone that lowers the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): The injection of a single sperm directly into an egg cell for the purpose of fertilization.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): A technique used to become pregnant, sperm sample is processed in the lab, inserted directly through the cervix and into the uterus using a thin catheter.

In vitro fertilization (IVF): A process in which eggs are removed from a woman's ovary and fertilized in a laboratory with a man's sperm, after which the resulting embryo is transferred to the woman's uterus for pregnancy or is cryopre-served for future use.

In vitro maturation: A process that allows eggs to mature in a laboratory instead of the usual method, within a woman's ovary.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a slender, telescope-like instrument is inserted into the abdomen and used to view abdominal and pelvic organs and perform surgery.

Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision is made into the abdomen for the purpose of surgery to the abdominal or pelvic organs.

Lupus: An autoimmune disease that causes changes in the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain.

Luteal phase: In the menstrual cycle, the time just after ovulation and until menstruation begins.

Luteinizing hormone (LH): A hormone that is made by the pituitary gland in the brain, which helps with ovulation in women and sperm production in men.

Menopause: The progression in a woman's life when her ovaries stop functioning and menstruation stops, marking the end of her natural fertility.

Menstrual cycle: A woman's process of bleeding, ovulating, and bleeding again. The average cycle occurs every 28 days, with ovulation usually occurring at the midpoint on day 14.

Miscarriage: The spontaneous loss of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside the uterus, usually occurring during the first trimester.

Molar pregnancy: The growth of abnormal placenta tissue within the uterus and usually the absence of a normal fetus.

Multiple pregnancy: A pregnancy in which there are twins, triplets, or more fetuses.

Neural tube defect: A serious birth defect that is due to the improper development of the brain, the spinal cord, or their coverings.

Nuclear transfer: A process in which the nucleus of an egg cell is removed and replaced with another nucleus from another cell.

Nucleus: The center part of the cell that contains the genetic material.

Oligospermia: A very low and inadequate amount of sperm in the semen sample.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): A potentially dangerous condition caused by overstimulating the ovaries with medication, leading to painful swelling of the ovaries and fluid collection within the abdomen and lungs.

Ovaries: Two glands located on either side of a woman's uterus. They produce hormones and also contain eggs that are released at ovulation.

Ovulation: The release of a mature egg from its follicle from the outer layer of the ovary, usually occurring around day 14 of a regular 28-day menstrual cycle.

Ovulation induction: A technique used often in fertility treatments whereby various medications are given to the woman for the purpose of stimulating the ovaries and causing ovulation to occur.

Pap test: A screening test performed in a doctor's office in which cells from the cervix are scraped away and examined under a microscope to evaluate for signs of cervical cancer.

Pelvic exam: An examination performed by a doctor or another health care provider where the examiner's hands are used to examine the woman's internal and external pelvic organs.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): A medical condition resulting from infection to the pelvic organs that can lead to blockage and scarring, especially of the fallopian tubes, leading to fertility problems.

Pituitary gland: The master endocrine gland that is located at the base of the brain, that together with the hypothalamus makes and regulates many hormones in the body.

Placenta: An important tissue of pregnancy that implants within the wall of the uterus and serves as an interface between mother and fetus, providing the fetus with nourishment and removing waste from the fetus.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A medical condition that occurs in a woman that involves increased levels of male hormones leading to cyst formation within the ovaries, lack of ovulation, and infertility.

Polyps: Small growths that develop and pouch outward from tissue. For example, uterine polyps grow from the tissue lining the uterus.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): A lab technique that uses DNA analysis to determine the genetic material with an embryo prior to embryo transfer.

Progesterone: A hormone that is produced in the ovaries and prepares the uterus for implantation and pregnancy. If pregnancy does not happen, the progesterone level drops off and menstrual bleeding occurs.

Prostate gland: A gland located near the male's bladder that contributes to ejaculation fluid. It is prone to infection that might affect his fertility.

Semen: A thick and cloudy fluid that usually contains sperm and is discharged from the male's penis during sexual climax.

Semen analysis: The microscopic assessment of semen to determine the number of sperm (sperm count), their shapes (morphology), and their ability to move (motility).

Septate uterus: An abnormality and birth defect of the uterus in which the uterus is divided into two distinct compartments.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD): One of several infectious diseases that are spread by sexual contact and include such ailments as chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of AIDS).

Sperm aspiration: A technique used to remove the sperm from part of the male's reproductive tract (for example, the epididymis, vas deferens, or testicle), usually for the purpose of fertility and reproduction.

Sperm washing: A laboratory method that separates the sperm from the seminal fluid.

Surrogacy: A situation where a woman carries a pregnancy and delivers a child for the intended parents. Surrogacy can be divided into gestational surrogacy, in which the surrogate does not contribute genetically to the baby, and traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate does contribute genetically to the baby by providing her own eggs.

Syphilis: A sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the organism Treponema pallidum. It can cause major health problems and, in the later stages, even result in death.

Test icular sperm aspiration (TESA): An outpatient procedure performed on a male where sperm are aspirated from his sperm duct for use in an assisted reproductive technology.

Test icular sperm extraction (TESE): An outpatient procedure performed on a male where small and thin biopsy specimens are removed from his testicles and sent to the laboratory, where sperm will be removed and used during an assisted reproductive technology.

Testosterone: A predominantly male sex hormone that is produced by the testicles and is responsible for sperm production and certain male physical characteristics, such as muscle mass and facial hair.

Traditional surrogate: A woman who is pregnant with an embryo that has been derived from her own egg and the sperm of the intended father in order to carry and deliver a child for the intended parents.

Transducer: A device typically used during an ultrasound procedure. It emits sound waves that are translated into electrical signals so that an image appears on the monitor screen.

Ultrasound: A test in which sound waves are used to evaluate internal structures of the body.

Umbilical cord: A cablelike structure that forms during a normal pregnancy between the placenta and the baby and provides nourishment to and removes waste from the baby.

Uterus: A female reproductive organ that is made of muscle and is located within the pelvis. Its purpose is to contain the fetus as it grows and develops during pregnancy.

Vagina: A muscular and tubelike passageway leading from the outside of the body to the uterus. It is sometimes referred to as the birth canal.

Var icocele: An abnormal enlargement of the vein (varicose vein) near the spermatic cord. It may be a cause of fertility problems in the man.

Vas deferens: A pair of tubelike structures that carry the sperm from the male's epididymis to his ejaculatory duct.

Vulva: The area that comprises the external female genital region.

X-bearing sperm: Sperm cell that carries the X (female) chromosome. If it fertilizes the egg, the resulting offspring will be a female.

Y-bearing sperm: Sperm cell that carries the Y (male) chromosome. If it fertilizes the egg, the resulting offspring will be a male.

Zygote: Another term for a very early developing embryo. It marks the time from fertilization until implantation within the uterus.

Pregnancy Guide

Pregnancy Guide

A Beginner's Guide to Healthy Pregnancy. If you suspect, or know, that you are pregnant, we ho pe you have already visited your doctor. Presuming that you have confirmed your suspicions and that this is your first child, or that you wish to take better care of yourself d uring pregnancy than you did during your other pregnancies; you have come to the right place.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment