Glossary of Terms

There is another language to learn when you deal with infertility. I am going to assume you know the basics about male and female anatomy, so I won’t provide definitions for those. Here are some other words and definitions that might clear things up and help you out a bit…


The scar tissue that forms around reproductive organs following a previous injury, infection or surgery.

Artificial Insemination (AI):

The depositing of sperm in the vagina near the cervix or directly into the uterus, with the use of a catheter instead of by sexual intercourse. This technique is used to overcome sexual performance problems, to avoid sperm-mucus interaction problems, to maximize the potential of poor semen, and for using donor sperm. Also know as IUI or Intrauterine Insemination.

Egg retrieval:

A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for use in In-vitro fertilization. The procedure may be performed during laparoscopy or through the vagina by using a needle and ultrasound to locate the follicle in the ovary.


Term used to describe the early stages of fetal growth, from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.

Embryo transfer:

Placing an egg fertilized outside the womb into a woman’s uterus or fallopian tube.

Fertility Specialist:

A physician specializing in the practice of fertility. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology certifies a subspecialty for OB-GYNs who receive extra training in reproductive endocrinology (the study of hormones) and infertility.

Fertility treatment:

Any method or procedure used to enhance fertility or increase the likelihood of pregnancy, such as Ovulation Induction (OI) treatment, varicocele repair (repair of varicose veins in the scrotal sac), and microsurgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes. The goal of fertility treatment is to help couples have a child.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG):

The hormone produced in early pregnancy, released by the placenta after implantation, that keeps the corpus luteum producing estradiol and progesterone and thus prevent menstruation. Also used via injection to trigger ovulation after some fertility treatments, and used in men to stimulate testosterone production.


Blocked, dilated, fluid-filled fallopian tube.

Implantation (Embryo):

The embedding of the embryo into tissue so it can establish contact with the mother’s blood supply for nourishment. Implantation usually occurs in the lining of the uterus; however, in an ectopic pregnancy it may occur elsewhere in the body.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):

Eggs produced by administering fertility drugs are retrieved from a woman’s body and fertilized by sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are transferred by catheter to the uterus.


The inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse (six months if a woman is over age 35).

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

A procedure in which a doctor places sperm directly into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter.


Examination of the pelvic region by using a small telescope called a laparoscope.


The physical structure and configuration of sperm cells.


A procedure in which uterine fibroids are surgically removed from the uterus.


Low number of sperm in the ejaculate of the male.

Ovarian Failure:

The failure of the ovary to respond to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulation from the pituitary because of damage to or malformation of the ovary, or a chronic disease such as autoimmune disease. Diagnosed by elevated FSH in the blood.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS):

Sudden ovarian enlargement accompanied by fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. This may occur with or without pain, and with or without accumulation of fluid in the lungs. OHSS is caused when the ovaries become over stimulated by the various hormones that cause follicular development.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrowm (PCOS):

The formation of cysts in the ovaries that occurs when the follicle stops developing. This is due to a hormonal imbalance in the ovary.

Post-Coital Test:

A test to determine whether the sperm can move properly through the cervical mucus.

Reproductive Endocrinologist:

An Obstetrician-Gynecologist with advanced education, research and professional skills in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility. These highly trained and qualified physicians treat reproductive disorders that affect children, women, men, the mature woman, and infertility in both men and women.


Varicose veins in the testicle that can cause sperm abnormalities.

Source: You will find even more terms and definitions at this website listed.

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