Glossary of Terms

Abortion, Spontaneous: Also called a miscarriage, this is a naturally occurring event in which a pregnancy is lost before 20 weeks gestation.

Amniocentesis: A medical procedure that can give doctors information about any abnormalities or infections in your baby before it is born.

Artificial Insemination: A procedure in which sperm is introduced into a female’s uterus or cervix in order to achieve pregnancy.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): Any technology used to achieve pregnancy in procedures such as fertility medication, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy.

Cervix: The lower section of the uterus.

Clinical Pregnancy: A pregnancy that has reached a stage where the baby can be seen on ultrasound.

Cryopreservation: Storage of sperm and embryos at low temperatures for extended periods.

Donor Eggs: Eggs that are taken from a fertile woman and implanted in another woman.

Ectopic Pregnancy: When an embryo implants outside the uterus.

Egg retrieval: A procedure in which the eggs are removed from the ovary after stimulation with fertility drugs.

Embryo: Fertilized egg.

Endometriosis: An often painful condition in which tissue from the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus.

Endometrium: The tissue lining the inside of the uterus.

Fallopian Tubes: Two hollow tubes on either side of the uterus where the egg and sperm meet to begin the process of fertilization.

Follicle: A group of cells found in the ovary where the egg grows before it’s released during ovulation.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone released by the pituitary gland. Drugs that contain FSH can be used in fertility to stimulate a follicle to develop and mature.

Infertility: The inability to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse for most people and at six months in certain cases.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): An artificial insemination technique that uses a catheter to place sperm directly into a woman’s uterus.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): An assisted reproductive technique that involves removing sperm and eggs, manually fertilizing them in a laboratory and then transferring a fertilized egg in the uterus.

Luteal Phase: The second half of the menstrual cycle.

Luteinizing Hormone: A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that helps a woman’s egg mature and develop.

Male Factor Infertility: When the cause of a couple’s infertility is due to problems in the man, including problems with the production and maturation of sperm.

Menorrhagia: Heavy or prolonged menstruation.

Ovulation: When the ovaries release a mature egg that is ready for fertilization.

Ovum: An egg.

Ovarian Cyst: A fluid-filled sac inside the ovary.

Ovaries: A pair of tiny glands in the female pelvic cavity that make hormones, including estrogen, which trigger menstruation.

Ovulation: The release of the egg from the ovarian follicle.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): An infection of a woman’s reproductive organs often caused by STDs.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A common hormonal condition in women of reproductive age in which an imbalance in the sex hormones may cause menstrual abnormalities, skin and hair changes, obesity, infertility and other long-term health problems.

Progesterone: Hormone produced during the second half of a woman’s cycle that thickens the linking of the uterus to prepare it to accept the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Reproductive endocrinologist: An obstetrician-gynecologist with advanced education, research and skills in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Semen Analysis: A standard test of that measures the amount of semen a man produces and determines the number and shape of his sperm.

Sonogram: A procedure that scans a woman’s abdomen and pelvic area using high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of the baby and placenta.

Sperm: The main agents of male reproduction, which are produced in the testes and released into the semen.

Sperm count: The number of sperm in ejaculate, given as the number of sperm per milliliter.

Sperm washing: A procedure done to remove components other than sperm from a semen sample prior to being used for intrauterine insemination.

Testes: Two small organs that are located at the base of the male’s penis where sperm are produced.

Testosterone: The male hormone responsible for the formation of sperm secondary sex characteristics and for supporting the sex drive.

Unexplained Infertility: Infertility for which the cause cannot be determined.

Uterine Fibroids: Abnormal, noncancerous growths of muscle within the wall of a woman’s uterus.

Uterine Polyps: Abnormal, noncancerous growths attached to a short stalk that protrudes from the inner surface of a woman’s uterus.

Uterus: The womb, the main female reproductive organ.

Zygote: An early stage in the development of a fertilized egg.