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Glossary of Fertility Terms


Infertility: Typically defined as an inability to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A laboratory procedure in which sperm and eggs are retrieved from both partners. A single sperm is injected directly into an egg, then the fertilized egg is implanted into the woman's uterus.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): An artificial insemination technique in which sperm are put directly into a woman's uterus.

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

Laparoscopy: A procedure that involves insertion of a narrow, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen.

Luteinizing Hormone: A hormone that triggers ovulation.

Luteal Phase: The second half of the menstrual cycle.

Male Factor Infertility: When the cause of a couple's infertility is due to problems in the man or when it contributes to existing fertility problems in the woman.

Morphology: The size and shape of sperm.

Motility: The ability of sperm to move by themselves.

Oligospermia: When a man has too few sperm to fertilize an egg normally.

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

Ovum: An egg.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries due to infection; a cause of infertility in some women.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A common hormonal condition in which an imbalance in the sex hormones may cause menstrual abnormalities, skin and hair changes, obesity, infertility and other long-term health problems. The name comes from the multiple small cysts which line the ovaries of most women with the disorder.

Postcoital Test: A standard fertility test in which a sample of cervical mucus is taken after intercourse to check the number and behavior of the sperm.

Premature Ovarian Failure: A condition in which a woman enters menopause before age 40 as a result of the ovaries ceasing ovulation and the production of estrogen.

Retrograde Ejaculation: A condition in which semen enters the bladder during ejaculation instead of leaving the penis.

Round Spermatid Nucleus Injection (ROSNI): An experimental fertilization technique in which immature sperm cells are removed from the testicle and the genetic material is injected into an egg.

Semen Analysis: A standard test of a man's semen to check the number and shape of his sperm.

Sonogram: The use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of structures inside the body.

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

Superovulation: Stimulation of the ovaries, usually done with hormones, that causes them to produce multiple eggs instead of one.

Tubal Ligation: A surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are surgically closed to prevent pregnancy.

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