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Fertility Terms and Definitions

Asthenozoospermia – poor motility and/or forward progression of the sperm cells.

Azoospermia, asospermia, or aspermia – no sperm at all is found in the semen.

Cervical Dysplasia – a premalignant lesion associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection which, over time, can turn cancerous.

Crohn’s Disease & Colitis – a chronic inflammatory disorder that usually affects the lower small intestine (the ileum) or the colon, but can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy is performed on a woman’s cervix after a biopsy confirms cervical dysplasia or condyloma. It is performed on an outpatient basis and takes approximately ten minutes.

During cryotherapy, a probe is placed on the cervix and cooled to a temperature below freezing. The probe is then warmed and the process is repeated. Once the freezing of the cervix is done, the probe is removed from the cervix.

Dilatation and curettage – commonly known as D&C is a process in which the cervix is dilated and the uterus is cleaned. Today D&Cs are often performed using suction (as opposed to the more aggressive method of scraping the uterus).

One of the main reasons a D&C is performed is when excess tissue needs to be removed from the uterus, e.g., after an incomplete miscarriage where not all the tissue associated with the pregnancy was expelled naturally.

Donor Insemination – Intrauterine insemination (IUI) using donor sperm. Also known as AID – Artificial Insemination, Donor (as opposed to AIH – Artificial Insemination, Husband)

Ectopic pregnancy – a pregnancy that develops outside of the uterus.

Egg Donation – The process by which a woman uses another woman’s eggs in order to conceive. This process is always combined with IVF and may also be combined with surrogacy. (See our egg donation topic to learn more.)

Endometriosis – Growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. The tissue may attach itself to the reproductive organs or to other organs in the abdominal cavity. Each month the endometrial tissue inbreeds with the onset of menses. The resultant irritation causes adhesions in the abdominal cavity and in the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis may also interfere with ovulation and with the implantation of the embryo. (see source)

FET – Frozen embryo transfer – The transfer to the uterus of remaining embryos resulting from IVF / ICSI that were frozen for future use. (See our FET topic for more information.)

Gestational Surrogacy – Eggs are retrieved from the IM – intended mother are fertilized and implanted into a surrogate mother who will carry a baby (who is not biologically related to her) for the IPs – intended parents. Also known as GS.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – Contrast dye is injected into the uterus, through the cervix. X-rays are taken to determine if there are any abnormalities or in the uterus or fallopian tubes. Also known as a uterine x-ray.

Hysteroscopy – a procedure in which the doctor looks into the cavity of the uterus with a small “scope”. Hysteroscopy can be performed either as an office or an outpatient hospital procedure. It is mainly used as a diagnostic tool to help evaluate patients suffering infertility, recurrent miscarriage, or abnormal bleeding.

ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, a single sperm cell is injected into each egg. This procedure is performed as part of IVF – in vitro fertilization when a small number of sperm is available. It enables fertilization of an egg even if only a single viable sperm cell is available. (See our ICSI topic to learn more.)

IUI – Intra Uterine Insemination – Washed sperm is inserted into the woman’s uterus. (See our IUI topic to learn more.)

IVF – In Vitro Fertilization – The process of creating an embryo outside of the uterus. (See our IVF topic to learn more about the process.)

MESA – microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration. A process used to retrieve viable sperm from men with sperm duct blockage or the absence of sperm in the semen. Usually combined with ICSI.

Necrozoospermia – no live sperm was found in the semen.

Oligospermia or oligozoospermia– low sperm count. Very few sperm were found in the semen.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – A potentially life-threatening condition in which the ovaries are over-stimulated during preparation for an IVF cycle. Early warning signs include severe pelvic pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight gain.

PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS – A common condition that affects the ovaries and the hormonal balance. Also known as PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) and as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome. (See our PCOS page for more information.)

Surrogacy – One woman carries a baby for another. (See our surrogacy page for more information.)

Teratozoospermia – A low percentage of morphologically normal sperm was found in the semen.

TESE – testicular sperm extraction. A process used to retrieve viable sperm from men with sperm duct blockage or the absence of sperm in the semen. Usually combined with ICSI.

Traditional Surrogacy – A surrogate mother goes through a process of AI (artificial insemination) using the intended father’s sperm. In this case, the surrogate mother is biologically the mother of the baby that she is carrying for another couple.

Vas deferens – muscular tubes through which the sperm is propelled during ejaculation.

Vasovagal response – A condition in which the person experiences a slow pulse, a fall in blood pressure, and sometimes fainting or convulsions. It thought to be caused by a sudden stimulation of the vagus nerve.

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