Glossary

Advanced Embryo Selection (PGT-A)

A Preimplantation genetic test that screens all chromosomes in a developing embryo allowing selection and fresh transfer of the embryo with the best chance of success.

Anti sperm antibodies

Antibodies developed in the bodies of either men or women that block the movement or function of the sperm

ART (Assisted Reproductive Treatment)

A collective term for fertility treatments.

Assisted Hatching

The procedure in which the outer layer of the embryo [called the zona] is thinned by a laser to help the embryo implant more easily.

Blastocyst

The term for the development of an embryo five days after fertilisation which consists of an inner cell mass, an internal cavity and an outer layer of cells.

Cervix

The neck of the womb.The embryo transfer procedure normally involves passing a small soft catheter through the cervix.

Curettage [D&C]

Having the contents or the lining of the uterus removed under anaesthetic, either by abrading it with an instrument [called a curette] or by suctioning out with a soft plastic tube.

Donor insemination

A form of treatment whereby frozen-thawed donated sperm is placed through the cervix at ovulation.

Ectopic pregnancy

A pregnancy that occurs outside the womb (uterus), most commonly in the fallopian tube, where the baby cannot survive.

Egg collection

The stage of an IVF treatment cycle where the woman’s eggs are collected under vaginal ultrasound.

Embryo

Once the sperm has penetrated the egg and fertilises the egg, an embryo
is formed.

Embryo Transfer

The stage of an IVF treatment cycle where the embryo is transferred back to the woman’s uterus via a fine catheter.

Endometriosis

The presence of the normal lining of the uterus called the endometrium
found in abnormal locations in the body such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and
peritoneal cavity.

Endometrium

The membrane lining the inside of the uterus.

Fallopian Tube

The fallopian tube runs from the ovary to the uterus. The egg normally
travels along the fallopian tube and this is where the egg and sperm normally meet
and the sperm penetrates the egg.

Follicle

The sac of fluid that surrounds the egg and which can usually be seen on the ultrasound scan.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

A hormone produced and released from the pituitary gland, to stimulate the follicle [and thus the egg] to grow.

Follicular Phase

The first half of a woman’s ovarian cycle following menstruation and during which the follicles grow.

Gamete

A word that describes both the male and female reproductive cells i.e. the sperm and egg.

hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin)

The hormone that is produced by the embryo and is measured in a pregnancy test. Injections of hCG can be used to trigger maturation of the egg followed by ovulation. Injections of hCG may also be used to maintain hormone levels in the second half (luteal phase) of the cycle.

HyCoSy / Sonar levovist

An ultrasound procedure to test whether or not the fallopian tubes are blocked. It involves the injection of a dye through the cervix and into the uterus.

Hypothalamus

An area of the brain that produces hormones that control body temperature, appetite and the release of hormones from the endocrine glands.

Hysterosalpingogram

A specialised x-ray procedure to test whether or not the fallopian tubes are blocked. It also involves the injection of a dye through the cervix and into the uterus.

Hysteroscopy

A procedure normally carried out under anaesthetic where the cervix is dilated to allow a small camera to pass through the cervix into the lower end of the uterus to give a clear view of the lining of the uterus.

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)

The fertility technique where a single sperm is selected and directly injected into an egg.

Implantation

The embedding of the embryo in the lining of the uterus 6-7 days after fertilisation.

IUI (Intra-uterine Insemination)

Treatment that involves inserting the partner’s concentrated semen through the neck of the womb into the uterus itself close to the time of ovulation.

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation)

The procedure by which an egg and sperm are placed in a dish and sperm penetrates the egg to form an embryo. The embryo is grown in a protected environment for some days before being placed (transferred) into the uterus.

Laparoscopy

Keyhole surgery that involves inserting a small telescope (laparoscope) through the abdominal wall so that the pelvic organs can clearly be visualised.

LH (Luteinising Hormone)

A hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland. It is responsible for triggering ovulation.

Luteal Phase

The last 14 days of a menstrual cycle after ovulation.

Oestrogen (or Estrogen)

The primary female hormone produced mainly from the ovary from puberty until the menopause.

Oocyte

The fully mature egg produced from the ovary each month.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

A condition where women over-respond to the fertility drugs and can develop severe fluid retention and abdominal swelling.

Ovaries

The female sex glands which produce eggs.

Pituitary Gland

The gland located at the base of the brain, which controls most hormone functions in the human.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common female endocrine disorders. PCOS is a complex, heterogeneous disorder of uncertain etiology, but there is strong evidence that it can to a large degree be classified as a genetic disease.

Pre-implantation Genetic Testing (PGT)

Testing the genetic makeup of the embryo before it is transferred back into the woman.

Progesterone

The hormone produced by the ovary after ovulation to maintain the pregnancy.

Semen

The ejaculated fluid comprising sperm and other secretions of the sex glands of the male.

Sonohysterogram

A sonohysterogram (ultrasound) or hysterosalpingogram (HSG) are diagnostic tests used to discover abnormalities in the uterine cavity and test the patency of the fallopian tubes.

Spermatozoa (sperm)

The male reproductive cells (gametes).

Stimulated Cycle

The use of super-physiological doses of FSH to allow many follicles to grow to maturity rather than the single follicle of the natural cycle.

Ultrasound (scan)

A modified form of radar used to visualise the follicles in the ovary and pregnancy in the uterus. This may be performed either through the abdomen or (more usual in IVF) through the vagina.

Uterus (womb)

The female reproductive organ that supports the developing fetus. It is the source of a woman’s menstruation.

Vas Deferens

The tube that transports the sperm from the testes.