FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT INFERTILITY TERMINOLOGY & ABBREVIATIONS
What are the causes of infertility?
There are many possible causes of infertility. A single cause may not be linked to either the man or the woman. Often the problem stems from a combination of factors in either or both partners. You and your partner will be diagnosed as a couple to determine the best treatment for you.
Who needs to have a semen analysis?
Anyone who is having trouble conceiving should have a semen analysis done. In about 40% of infertile couples, the cause of the infertility lies with the males, and this could easily and quickly be diagnosed via a semen analysis.
What is a semen analysis?
What are the factors for male infertility?
Approximately 15% of all couples have difficulty achieving a pregnancy during their reproductive years. In approximately 50% of these couples, a male factor is involved, either alone or with a coinciding female factor. The spectrum of causes of male infertility is quite variable, as are the appropriate treatments.
What is ovulation induction?
Ovulation induction involves stimulating the ovary to produce one or more eggs. It may be accomplished with a number of different medications and may be helpful in a wide variety of clinical settings.
What is intrauterine insemination?
The objective of IUI is to introduce a quantity of sperm into the female partner's uterus, and thereby encourage fertilization.
What is assisted reproduction?
Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) encompass a wide range of techniques designed primarily to aid couples unable to conceive without medical intervention.
What is gender selection?
The process of gender selection increases the chance of having a female or male child, by separating sperm that bear the X chromosome (female) and those that have the Y chromosome (male), and inseminating with whichever sample is desired.
What is PGD?
Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a medical procedure which allows embryos to be tested for gender-related genetic conditions, prior to being placed in the womb, giving the best opportunity to select the gender of your baby. PGD involves tried and tested assisted conception techniques which are safe, reliable and ethically sound. In-vitro fertilization is now widely accepted and this forms the basis of our gender selection program.
Do you accept insurance?
No, at this time we do not accept insurance. However, we will provide you with a receipt so that you may file a claim with your insurance company for re-imbursement.
What are polycystic ovaries?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition in which women experience irregular or absent menstrual bleeding, increased hair growth, and difficulty becoming pregnant. In these women, the ovaries are slightly enlarged and contain multiple small cysts which have led to the descriptive term, polycystic ovaries.
Fertility Terminology & Abbreviations
Scar tissue that which form as a consequence of infections, inflammation, surgery, etc.
Sex hormones which are present in much higher concentrations in men than women.
An M.D./Ph.D. who specializes in the study of male reproduction.
The total absence of ovulation. Menses may still occur.
Antimullerian Hormone (AMH)
A hormone that can be measured to get insight into the number of eggs remaining in the ovary.
Antisperm Antibody Testing
Testing performed to determine if a man or a woman harbors substances (antibodies) that cause the sperm to clump together, lose motility, or impair the ability to fertilize an egg.
The process of making a small hole in the zona pellucida (gel-like covering of embryo) to facilitate implantation of the developing embryo in the uterine wall.
The absence of sperm in the seminal fluid. This may be due to a blockage or to an impairment of sperm production.
Basal Body Temperature
The body temperature of a person recorded immediately upon awakening, before any activity is undertaken. The temperature can be taken orally or rectally. The temperature is recorded daily on a graph, which can show evidence of ovulation when the temperature rises after ovulation and remains elevated for the rest of the menstrual cycle.
Beta HCG (hCG)
A hormone, beta human chorionic gonadotropin, produced by a pregnancy. Measurement of beta hCG is the blood test used to confirm a pregnancy and to follow its progression.
See Chemical Pregnancy.
An embryo that is 5-6 days old and is made up of hundreds of cells.
Blighted Ovum (Egg)
A general term used to describe the situation where an intrauterine pregnancy fails to develop a fetus with heartbeat. Same as an Empty Sac pregnancy.
An oral medication used to lower prolactin levels.
The change that sperm cells undergo as they travel through the woman's reproductive tract and that enables the sperm to penetrate the egg.
CBC (Complete Blood Count)
A routine preoperative blood test. This test gives information regarding infection and anemia.
Secretions produced by the cervix which vary in viscosity according to the phase of the menstrual cycle, and become penetrable by sperm in the days preceding ovulation. The cervical mucus is responsible for buffering the sperm against the natural acidity of the vaginal environment.
A pregnancy characterized by positive hCG level in the blood that does not lead to a clinical pregnancy. A very early miscarriage.
A microorganism that may be transmitted by sexual contact. Chlamydia can exist in the reproductive tract without symptoms and cause infertility. If present, both partners must be treated.
Clinical evidence of pregnancy including increasing hCG levels and clinical evidence of pregnancy such as an ultrasound examination, physical signs on examination, tissue confirming pregnancy or miscarriage.
Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid/Serophene)
A synthetic drug used to stimulate the body's own production of FSH and LH.
The follicle in the ovary at the site of the released egg that produces the hormone progesterone during the second half of the menstrual cycle. If pregnancy occurs, the corpus luteum persists and produces the progesterone necessary to support pregnancy.
Freezing of a cells for later use. In reproductive medicine, the freezing of sperm or excess eggs or embryos from an IVF cycle. The sperm, eggs and/ or embryos are preserved for future transfer by storing them at very low temperatures in liquid nitrogen.
Donor Egg(s), Donor Oocyte(s)
Eggs that are removed from the ovaries of one woman for use by another.
An embryo created previously in an IVF cycle which has been donated, either anonymously or in a directed manner, so that other couples with infertility may attempt pregnancy using that embryo.
Sperm that are collected from a man who is not the woman's partner to be used to artificially inseminate her. Usually this sperm is obtained in a frozen state from a commercial sperm bank.
An embryo implanting and developing outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube, rarely in an ovary, or in the abdominal area.
The term used to describe the early stages of fetal growth.
A procedure in which an embryo is placed into the uterus with the goal of implantation and pregnancy.
The presence of endometrial-like tissue (the normal uterine lining) in abnormal locations, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and abdominal cavity.
A small sample of tissue removed from the lining of the uterus for microscopic examination.
Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA)
Tests the endometrial “receptivity” on the day of would-be embryo transfer. The uterus is prepared with estrogen and progesterone (as with a Frozen Embryo Transfer/FET cycle) but, instead of an embryo transfer, a biopsy is performed with a small catheter. The tissue is sent for molecular analysis and the test result will indicate “receptive” or “not receptive".
A brand of the type estrogen (estradiol) that is primarily produced by the ovaries during the reproductive years.
The primary steroid hormone produced by the ovaries from puberty to menopause.
Estradiol Level (E-2 Level)
The principal form of estrogen in reproductive age women. Its level is measured in the blood to determine follicular maturation prior to ovulation.
Tube like organs that conduct eggs from the ovary to the uterus. Normal fertilization takes place within this structure. The Fallopian tubes are also responsible for transporting the developing embryo into the uterine cavity for implantation.
Penetration of an egg by a sperm.
The developing human organism after the embryo stage from the ninth week of pregnancy to the moment of birth.
A non-cancerous smooth muscle tumor found within the wall of the uterus. Also known as a myoma.
Fluid-filled structure on the ovary which contains the ripening egg and from which the egg is released at ovulation or retrieved during an IVF cycle. The follicle also produces estradiol and later progesterone.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
A hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the ovary to ripen a follicle for ovulation. In the male, FSH stimulates sperm production.
The portion of the menstrual cycle when ovarian follicle development takes place.
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)
Transfer of an embryo or embryos that were previously created and frozen and subsequently thawed in the IVF laboratory, into a woman's uterus.
A sperm or an egg.
Gamete Intrafallopian Tube Transfer (GIFT)
A procedure similar to IVF except that the sperm and eggs are placed inside a catheter, separated by an air bubble, and then transferred inside a woman's fallopian tube, where fertilization takes place. This can be done only in women with at least one normal tube and requires a laparoscopy. This procedure is no longer performed today.
Gonadotropin Release Hormone (GnRH)
A hormone released from the hypothalamus that controls the synthesis and release of the pituitary hormones FSH and LH.
A hormone capable of stimulating the testicles or the ovaries to produce sperm or an egg, respectively. FSH and LH are gonadotropins. Drugs which are gonadotropins include Gonal-F, Follistim, Bravelle, Menopur, Luveris, Repronex, Pergonal, Humegon, Metrodin and Fertinex.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
See beta hCG.
Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (HMG)
A natural product containing both human FSH and LH. The hormones are extracted from the urine of postmenopausal women. The drug is used to treat both male and female infertility and to stimulate the development of multiple oocytes.
A swelling in the scrotum containing fluid.
The constellation of symptoms that may result from overproduction of follicles and hormones from the ovaries, usually as a result of stimulation with injectable (or rarely oral) fertility medications; symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and dehydration.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG, Hysterogram)
An x-ray procedure during which dye is introduced into the uterus through the cervix and passed through the tubes to determine if they are open. This also shows the configuration of the uterus (any irregularities, fibroids, etc).
See Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.
Idiopathic Infertility (Unexplained Infertility)
The term used when no reason can be found to explain the cause of a couple's infertility.
The embedding of the fertilized egg, or embryo, in the lining of the uterus.
The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after one year of regular, unprotected intercourse.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Injection of a single sperm into the center of an egg with a very sharp microscopic glass needle. This technique of micromanipulation is very useful for cases of male factor infertility.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
The introduction of specially prepared sperm directly into the uterus through the cervix by means of a catheter.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
The procedure during which an egg is removed from a mature follicle and fertilized by a sperm outside the human body.
A surgical procedure where a telescope-like device is inserted through a small incision near the navel in order to visualize the pelvic cavity, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus.
A spontaneous release of large amounts of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) that precedes ovulation.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
A hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland. It is responsible for triggering ovulation; in the male, LH stimulates testosterone production.
A condition in which the number of motile sperm in a semen sample is abnormally low.
Infrequent (irregular) ovulation.
The egg cell produced in the ovaries. Also called the ovum or female gamete.
Release of a mature egg from the ovary.
Release of a mature egg from the ovary.
Papanicolaou Smear (Pap Test)
This is a screening test to evaluate the cells of the cervix to determine if they are normal. It is done by gently touching the cervix with a cotton swab, a wooden spatula or a special small brush and then examining the cells under a microscope.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A condition where ovulation is either abnormal or absent, and androgen (male hormone) levels are elevated. PCOS is associated with subfertility as well as an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
The process of sampling cells from a blastocyst and then analyzing those cells to determine if the embryo is a carrier of a certain genetic disease (i.e. Cystic Fibrosis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Sickle Cell Disease).
Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS)
The process of sampling cells from a blastocyst and then analyzing those cells to determine if the embryo has the appropriate number of chromosomes.
A hormone produced and released by the corpus luteum of the ovary during the second half of an ovulatory cycle. Progesterone is necessary to prepare the lining of the uterus for the implantation of the fertilized egg. During pregnancy, it is produced by the placenta. Supplemental support can be provided by injection or in vaginal or oral forms when indicated.
The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy after having successfully conceived and carried one or more pregnancies.
Semen Analysis (SA)
Freshly ejaculated semen is evaluated under a microscope to count the number of sperm (count), the percentage of moving sperm (motility), and to assess the size and shape of the sperm (morphology).
Antibodies against sperm cells which may attack and destroy them. These antibodies can be produced either by men against their own sperm or by women.
Technique for separating sperm from seminal fluid.
A method of collecting a semen specimen so that the first portion of the ejaculate is caught in one container and the rest in a second container. In most men, the first specimen will contain the vast majority of the sperm.
The two male sexual glands, contained in the scrotum. They produce the male hormone testosterone and produce the male reproductive cells, the sperm.
A small surgical excision of testicular tissue to determine the presence of normal sperm.
The most potent male sex hormone. It is produced in the testes, and to lesser amounts, in the ovaries.
Technique for visualizing the follicles in the ovaries or the fetus in the uterus. A baseline ultrasound shows the ovaries in their unstimulated state. A follicular ultrasound shows egg follicle maturation. A pregnancy ultrasound shows if a pregnancy is intrauterine or tubal and measures growth of the fetus.
Visualization of pelvic structures by projecting sound waves through a probe that is inserted into the vagina.
A collection of varicose veins in the scrotum. Varicoceles can cause pain. They were felt to affect sperm production and surgical correction was recommended for improvement. Today surgery has been abandoned largely unless there is pain.
An embryo in the early stages of development.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
The ovum is fertilized in vitro and then transferred to the fallopian tube surgically. This procedure has been largely abandoned.