Young woman researches reproductive health terminology

Terms and Definitions

Below are the most popular terms used in reproductive medicine, along with their definitions.

Terms and Definitions

An ectopic pregnancy happens when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. Sometimes, it can implant in other parts of the abdomen, like the omentum, which is tissue in the belly.

A benign (non-cancerous) growth of cells that usually does not invade adjacent tissue. A pituitary adenoma can lead to excessive prolactin production and disrupt ovulation/menstruation or sperm

When tissue from the lining of the uterus grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. It's not cancerous, but it can cause painful or heavy periods.

Bands of fibrous scar tissue that may bind the pelvic organs and/or loops of bowel together. Adhesions can result from previous infections, endometriosis, or previous surgeries.

Glands located above each kidney that secrete a large variety of hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and others) that help the body withstand stress and regulate metabolism. Altered function of these glands can disrupt menstruation, cause inappropriate hair growth, and affect blood pressure.

A condition where the adrenal glands produce too many male hormones, called androgens. This happens because of a genetic issue.

Absence of menstrual periods 

A nonprofit, professional medical organization of health care specialists interested in reproductive medicine. You can visit the ASRM website at

Amniocentesis is a procedure done around the 16th week of pregnancy where a small amount of amniotic fluid is taken out with a needle from the sac surrounding the baby. This fluid is checked for chromosomal issues that could affect how the baby grows.

The thin membrane that stretches around the growing baby in the womb. This membrane (sac) holds the amniotic fluid, which acts as a cushion to protect the developing baby.

In men, androgens are the “male” hormones produced by the testes which are responsible for encouraging masculine characteristics and supporting sperm production. In women, androgens are produced in small amounts by both the adrenal glands and ovaries. In women, excess amounts of androgens can lead to irregular menstrual periods, obesity, excessive growth of body hair (hirsutism), and infertility.

An androgenic hormone naturally made by the ovaries, testes, and adrenal glands. The body turns it into testosterone. Androstenedione sold as a “natural” supplement is made from plant chemicals and is not regulated by the FDA. It often is marketed as an enhancer of athletic performance and muscle strength, but its safety and effectiveness are controversial.

When there aren't enough red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen. This condition can make someone feel weak or tired. It often happens because of unusual bleeding.

Lack of ovulation

A hormone which is often measured in a woman to help determine her egg supply, or "ovarian reserve". It is secreted by small, growing follicles.

The number of small fluid-filled follicles (see the definition of follicle, ovarian below) in the ovaries observed using ultrasound

A condition where the appendix (a tubular structure attached to the large colon) becomes infected and inflamed and can be associated with the formation of adhesions near the fallopian tube.

A procedure where a part of the outer covering of the embryo, called the zona pellucida, is partially opened. Sometimes used to help the embryo attach better and increase the chances of pregnancy. 

The natural process by which eggs age and degenerate.

A catheter usually retained in the bladder by a balloon inflated with air or liquid; also retained in the uterus to prevent scar tissue formation following uterine surgery.

When a individual's pregnancy test is initially positive but becomes negative before a pregnancy is visible on ultrasound.

When a small piece of tissue is taken for examination under a microscope. The term also refers to the tissue that has been removed.

Also called oral contraceptives, birth control pills have synthetic estrogens and progesterone. When used correctly, they stop ovulation and reduce the production of hormones, like androgens, from the ovaries.

An embryo that has progressed and started to form the early placenta and a fluid-filled cavity, usually 5 to 6 days after ovulation or egg retrieval.

A drug used to suppress the production of prolactin by the pituitary gland.

Federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people at home and abroad, providing credible information to enhance health decisions, and promoting health through strong partnerships.

Placement of a nonabsorbable suture around an incompetent (weak) cervical opening in attempt to keep it closed and thus prevent miscarriage. Also known as a cervical stitch.

A condition that damages one or more parts of the brain, typically happening before, during, or shortly after birth. It affects motor function, like muscle control and coordination, causing difficulty in controlling movements. Other issues may include feeding problems, bladder and bowel control issues, breathing difficulties, skin problems, and learning disabilities.

The passageway leading from the vagina into the uterus.

The substance in the cervix through which sperm must swim to enter the uterus.

The lower, narrow end of the uterus that connects the uterine cavity to the vagina.

A procedure in which a small sample of cells is taken from the placenta early in pregnancy for chromosomal testing.

Condensed DNA. Humans typically have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 total). Two of the 46 are the sex chromosomes, the X and Y chromosomes. Usually, females have two X chromosomes, and males have one X and one Y chromosome.

A pregnancy confirmed by an increasing level of hCG and the presence of a gestational sac detected by ultrasound.

A test that measures the FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels in the blood on days 3 and 10 of the menstrual cycle. Additionally, clomiphene citrate is taken on days 5 through 9 of the cycle as part of the test.

A type of body imaging that generates a 3D picture of internal organs

A trait that is present at birth.

Treatment with certain fertility medications to cause more than one egg to develop. Previously called "superovulation" or "controlled ovarian hyperstimulation".

A fertility treatment where medication is used to increase the number of eggs released by the ovaries. It's combined with placing sperm directly into the uterus around the time of ovulation.

A "yellow body". A structure that forms in the ovary after a mature follicle releases its egg during ovulation. The corpus luteum produces estrogen and progesterone hormones, which help prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for a potential pregnancy.

A hormone made by the adrenal glands, found on top of the kidneys near the back's waistline. It helps regulate the body's energy levels, blood sugar, and response to stress.

The process of freezing and storing eggs, sperm, or embryos at extremely low temperatures to be used at a later date.

A weak synthetic male hormone that blocks ovulation and lowers estrogen levels; sometimes used to treat endometriosis.

A hormone naturally made by the adrenal glands. The body turns it into other hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. DHEA sold as a “natural” supplement is made from plant chemicals and is not regulated by the FDA. It often is marketed as an antiaging medication, but its safety and effectiveness are controversial.

A condition due to abnormal production of insulin resulting in abnormally elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels.

The insertion of a long, thin, lighted telescope-like instrument, called a laparoscope, through the navel into the abdomen in order to look for abnormalities of the internal pelvic organs, such as the outside of the uterus.

A medication that is used to lower blood pressure.

An artificial hormone that used to be administered during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage. However, women born from pregnancies treated with this hormone may have reproductive system abnormalities, including a higher chance of ectopic pregnancy.

A surgery where the cervix is opened, and the lining of the uterus is scraped. The tissue collected is usually examined under a microscope for any abnormalities or signs of pregnancy.

Instruments used to enlarge a small opening.

An agent that increases the loss of water from the body.

Di - two; zygote - fertilized egg. Two separate eggs fertilized by separate sperm in a single pregnancy. Fraternal twins.

An egg from a fertile individual is donated to an infertile individual to be used in an assisted reproductive technology procedure such as IVF. The individual receiving the egg will not be genetically related to the child but will be the birth mother.

Sperm given by a male (donor) who is not the recipient's partner.

A genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. Individuals with this condition often have intellectual disabilities, physical differences, and medical problems such as heart defects. 

Abnormal uterine bleeding with no evidence of mechanical or structural cause. The most common cause of DUB is deficient or excessive estrogen and/or progesterone production.

Painful menstrual cramps.

Pelvic or genital pain that can be experienced before, during, or after intercourse. Sometimes a symptom of endometriosis.

Also called premature ovarian failure. When menstrual periods stop before the age of 40 due to ovaries not working properly.

A pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This tube may rupture or bleed as the pregnancy grows and create or result in a serious medical situation.

A medication that helps inhibit hair growth, available in a facial cream to reduce the growth of unwanted facial hair.

A female reproductive cell, commonly known as an "egg", produced and released by the ovaries. When fertilized by sperm, it forms an embryo.

A process where a woman donates her eggs to help another person or couple conceive. The donated eggs are fertilized by sperm outside the body. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the recipient's uterus with the aim of achieving pregnancy.

A process where an individual donates their eggs to help another person or couple get pregnant. The donated eggs are fertilized by sperm outside of the body to create an embryo. The embryos are then transferred to the recipient's uterus with the aim of achieving pregnancy.

Procedure where an electrical shock is used on the prostate to help stimulate a man to ejaculate.

The early stage of development after an egg, fertilized by sperm, begins dividing and growing.

Growth and monitoring of embryos, formed by fertilizing eggs with sperm, in a specialized incubator outside the body. These incubators can support embryos’ development for up to 7 days, after which embryos can be transferred to the uterus or frozen for future use.

Placement of an embryo into the uterus.

A physician who specializes in endocrinology, which is the medical specialty concerned with hormones and their actions.

A medical procedure that removes the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. Usually performed with electricity, a balloon, or hot fluid, this procedure is often used to reduce or stop heavy bleeding and is not recommended in those who desire to carry a pregnancy.

The removal of a small piece of tissue from the endometrium (uterus lining) for microscopic examination. The results may indicate whether or not the endometrium is at the appropriate stage for successfully implanting a fertilized egg (embryo) and/or if it is inflamed or diseased.

A cyst in the ovary filled with blood and endometrial tissue that occurs in some individuals with endometriosis.

A disease in which tissue resembling endometrium (the inside lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus. It may cause pelvic pain and is often associated with infertility.

An inflammation of the endometrium caused by bacterial invasion.

The inside lining of the uterus that is shed each month during a period.

The duct between the testicles and vas deferens where sperm are stored and mature.

The predominant estrogen (hormone) is produced by the follicular cells of the ovary.

Female sex hormones made by the ovaries, which help develop female sex traits. During the menstrual cycle, estrogens help the lining of the uterus grow. Estrogens also play a role in keeping bones healthy and overall female well-being. Males also produce a bit of these hormones when testosterone changes into estrogen. 

Period of “watchful waiting” without active treatment. 

A pair of hollow tubes is attached one on each side of the uterus through which the egg travels from the ovary to the uterus. Fertilization usually occurs in the fallopian tube. The fallopian tube is the most common site of ectopic pregnancy.

Drugs that stimulate the ovaries to produce and mature eggs so that they can be released at ovulation.

The fusion of sperm and egg.

A developing baby while inside the uterus. During a pregnancy, initially the egg and sperm unite to create an embryo. The embryo continues to develop inside the uterus and becomes a fetus and remains one until birth.

Benign (non-cancerous) growths of the uterine muscle wall that can cause abnormal uterine bleeding. They are also known as leiomyomas or myomas.

The flared (finger-like) end of the fallopian tube sweeps over the ovary's surface and helps direct the egg into the tube. 

A medication that blocks the change of testosterone to other active forms. May be prescribed for an enlarged prostate and to reduce male pattern balding.

A tubular sheath surrounding the lower part of the hair shaft. It provides nourishment to the growing hair and supports the growth of new hairs.

A fluid-filled sphere located just beneath the surface of the ovary containing an egg (oocyte) and cells that produce hormones. The sphere increases in size and volume during the first half of the menstrual cycle and at ovulation the follicle matures and ruptures, releasing the egg. As the follicle matures, it can be visualized by ultrasound.

Hormone made by the pituitary gland. In females, it is responsible for stimulating follicles containing eggs inside the ovary to grow and helps produce of the female hormone estrogen. In males, this hormone helps the testes to develop sperm. 

The first half of the menstrual cycle (beginning on day one of bleeding) during which the dominant follicle secretes increasing amounts of estrogen.

Referring to inherited conditions, usually due to the genes located on the chromosomes.

A female who agrees to have a couple’s fertilized egg (embryo) implanted in her uterus. The gestational carrier carries the pregnancy for the couple, who usually has to adopt the child. The carrier does not provide the egg and is therefore not biologically (genetically) related to the child.

Elevated blood sugar levels in a pregnant individual. During pregnancy, the placenta typically produces hormones that counteract insulin, leading to insulin resistance. In a multiple pregnancy, higher levels of these hormones are produced, which can further increase the mother's blood sugar levels.

The fluid-filled sac surrounding an embryo that develops within the uterine cavity. Ultrasound can detect the sac in the uterus at a very early stage of pregnancy.

A GnRH agonist is a medication that initially triggers the pituitary gland to release LH and FSH, but then has a delayed suppressive effect. These agonists are also used to help promote follicle growth when they are started at the beginning of an IVF cycle.

A long-acting medication that inhibits the release of hormones, preventing ovulation and reducing the body's production of estrogen. Prolonged use of GnRH analogs leads to decreased hormone production and estrogen levels similar to those during menopause. Some brand names for GnRH analogs include Lupron®, Depo Lupron®, Synarel®, and Zoladex®.

Synthetic hormones that mimic the naturally occurring gonadotropin-releasing hormone. They are used to prevent premature ovulation. There are two types of GnRH analogs: GnRH agonists and GnRH antagonists.

Naturally occurring hormones include FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), and hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). These hormones are normally made in the human body, but are also available as injection medications. When used for medication in females, they can be used to help induce ovulation or produce multiple eggs. When used for medication in males, they can sometimes be used to help increase sperm numbers

Hormone secreted by the hypothalamus, a control center in the brain, which prompts the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH into the bloodstream.

A genetic disorder associated with very high circulating levels of insulin and male sex hormones.

Localized collections of blood which seep from the blood vessels into tissue, like a large bruise.

Viruses that can spread through sexual contact or contact with blood and other body fluids. They can infect the liver and lead to symptoms like yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and liver problems.

The growth of hair on the face, chest, upper arms, OR upper legs of people with ovaries. Hirsutism may be due to excess levels of male sex hormones.

Substances secreted by certain organs of the body that act as messengers to manage important functions in the body like growth, metabolism, and reproduction

HCG is a hormone that is produced during pregnancy. It can also be used as a medication to induce ovulation.

An ovulation drug that contains follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) derived from the urine of postmenopausal women. hMG is used to stimulate the growth of multiple follicles.

A blocked, dilated, fluid-filled fallopian tube.

Hyperandrogenism: A condition in which people with ovaries have increased levels of androgens (male hormones).

When there are high levels of the hormone prolactin in the bloodstream.

A small area in the brain that releases hormones responsible for regulating many important bodily functions like temperature, hunger and thirst, and sleep.

A surgery where the uterus is removed from the female body. It can be done in different ways, like through an incision in the abdomen, through the vagina, or using laparoscopy. Sometimes, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also taken out during this surgery. 

An x-ray test where a special dye containing iodine is injected through the cervix into the uterus. It helps to show the shape of the inside of the uterus and whether the fallopian tubes are open or not.

A slender tool with a light and camera at the end, which can be inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to see the inside of the uterus.

The insertion of a hysteroscope (a long, thin instrument with a light and a camera on the end) through the vagina, cervix, and into the uterus that allows the provider to see the inside of the uterus. This procedure can be used to diagnose or treat certain uterine conditions.

When a fertilized egg (embryo) attaches into the lining of the uterus to obtain nutrition and oxygen. Sometimes an embryo will implant in an area other than the uterus, such as in a fallopian tube. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy.

Endometriosis Implants - Small, flat patches of cells, similar to cells found in the uterine lining, growing outside their normal location.

A method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. If the egg fertilizes and begins cell division, the resulting embryo is transferred into the uterus, which hopefully will implant in the uterine lining and further develop. IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes and is usually the treatment choice for individuals with badly damaged or absent tubes.

A procedure in which eggs are fertilized in a laboratory and one or more embryo(s) are placed into the uterus.

Inabliity to achieve a successful pregnancy based on a patient’s medical, sexual, and reproductive history, age, physical findings, diagnostic testing, or any combination of those factors.

Placement of sperm via a syringe into a female’s uterus or cervix for the purpose of producing a pregnancy.

Special process used in the IVF lab, where a single sperm is put directly into an egg to help the sperm penetrate the egg. It's often used when the sperm are low quality 

A small device placed inside of the uterus that prevents pregnancy. Some IUDs contain hormones and some do not. Hormonal IUDs can be used to treat certain conditions like heavy menstrual bleeding.

An office procedure in which prepared sperm are placed into the uterus.

A special fluid into which sperm, eggs, and embryos are placed when outside the human body.

A small, lighted tool that looks like a telescope and is often put into the abdomen through a small cut in the belly button. It's used to view the inside the pelvic and abdominal areas.

A surgical procedure that allows viewing of the internal pelvic organs. During the procedure, a long, narrow, fiber optic instrument, called a laparoscope, is inserted through a small cut in the belly button of the abdomen.

Major abdominal surgery through an incision in the abdominal wall.

A growth, or an area of abnormal tissue somewhere in the body. Examples include scar tissue, polyps, and uterine fibroids.

The release of large amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland, which triggers ovulation to occur.

Sexual drive and desire.

The second half of the ovarian cycle when the corpus luteum produces large amounts of progesterone. This progesterone is important in preparing the endometrium to receive a fertilized egg (embryo) for implantation.

A shorter than normal luteal phase or one with lesser progesterone secretion despite a normal duration.

In females, the pituitary hormone that triggers ovulation and tells the ovary's corpus luteum to make progesterone and other hormones in the second part of the menstrual cycle. In males, the he hormone that tells the testes to make the male hormone testosterone.

A diagnostic procedure that absorbs energy from specific high-frequency radio waves. The picture produced by measuring these waves can be used to form precise images of internal organs without X-ray techniques. No radiation exposure occurs.

When there's a male issue preventing a pregnancy from happening, possibly because he can't release sperm properly or he doesn't have enough.

Cessation of ovarian function and menstruation usually occurs naturally but can also result from surgery. Menopause can occur between the ages of 42 and 56 but usually occurs around the age of 51 when the ovaries stop producing eggs and estrogen levels decline.

Regular but heavy menstrual bleeding is excessive in either amount (greater than 80 cc – approximately five tablespoons) or duration (greater than seven days).

The normal, cyclic shedding of the endometrial lining (lining of the uterus), which appears as a bloody discharge from the uterus.

Medication used for treating ectopic pregnancy, or non-viable pregnancies of unknown location. It works by slowing down and stopping the growth of pregnancy-related cells, allowing the body to naturally absorb them over time.

Minor surgery to collect sperm from the epididymis for men who have a blockage in their reproductive tubes, like after a vasectomy or if they're missing a certain part. Collected sperm are used in a process to help women get pregnant called in vitro fertilization.

A process done in the IVF lab where either the egg or the embryo are held in place using special instruments and then procedures like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), assisted hatching, or embryo biopsy are performed.

A specialized surgery technique that involves using magnification, careful techniques, and very small sutures to achieve very precise surgical results. Microsurgery is particularly important for specific types of tubal surgery in women and for reversing vasectomy in men.

A medication used to lower blood pressure that was also found to promote hair growth.

The naturally occurring expulsion of a nonviable fetus and placenta from the uterus; also known as spontaneous abortion or pregnancy loss.

The shape and structure of sperm; it is not unusual for many sperm in a sample to have mild abnormalities in shape

In reference to sperm indicating that they are moving.

A measure of whether sperm are moving or not and how well they are moving.

Also known as selective reduction. A procedure to reduce the number of fetuses in the uterus. This procedure is sometimes performed on women who are pregnant with multiple fetuses and who are at an increased risk of late miscarriage or premature labor. These risks increase with the number of fetuses.

Benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the uterine muscle wall can cause abnormal uterine bleeding and miscarriage. Also, see fibroids.

The surgical removal of myomas (fibroids) from the uterus.

Clusters of endometriosis that deeply penetrate into tissue, forming knot-like structures.

An inherited disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the hormone cortisol and overproduce androgens. Symptoms related to androgen excess include irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, acne, hirsutism (excessive hair growth)

A female reproductive cell, commonly known as an "egg", produced and released by the ovaries. When fertilized by sperm, it forms an embryo.

A medical procedure where a thin, lighted tube called a hysteroscope, which has a camera attached to it, is inserted through the vagina into the uterus. It helps doctors look inside the uterus to diagnose problems like abnormal bleeding, polyps, fibroids, or other conditions. This procedure is often done in a doctor's office or outpatient setting.

A type of surgery that uses a small camera to address problems such as cysts, endometriosis, or blocked fallopian tubes. Instead of large incisions used in traditional open surgeries, laparoscopy involves making small cuts, leading to faster recovery and less scarring.

fluid-filled sacs inside the ovaries, with different types caused by various reasons. Their management depends on the specific type. While most are harmless and can be observed, some may need medical attention.

A minimally invasive surgery where small holes are made in the ovaries using heat or laser. The goal is to reduce male hormone producing cells, and assist regular ovulation in females with PCOS, which can help achieve pregnancy.

A condition that may occur during fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF). It happens when the ovaries become swollen and painful due to simultaneous growth of a large number of egg follicles. This can lead to symptoms like bloating, nausea, and discomfort. While most cases are mild, severe OHSS can be serious, and medical attention may be needed to manage symptoms and prevent complications.

Total number of immature eggs in the ovaries. This declines as a female ages, which can lower chances of having a baby.

See Ovulation induction.

The two female sex glands in the pelvis located on each side of the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs and hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and androgens.

The release of a mature egg from its developing follicle in the outer layer of the ovary. This usually occurs 14 days before the next menstrual period (the 14th day of a 28-day cycle).

A medical treatment aimed at assisting the ovaries to release an egg. It involves taking medications to help the egg develop and be released. This can be beneficial for individuals trying to get pregnant, especially when natural ovulation is irregular or not happening.

A surgery where the part of the fallopian tube containing an ectopic pregnancy is taken out. The aim is to save most of the tube for later reattachment using microsurgery, with the hope of restoring fertility in the future.

Process where a special vibrating tool is used on the penis to make it release sperm, also called ejaculation.

Minor procedure where a needle is used to get sperm from the epididymis, the part that carries sperm from the testicle to the vas deferens. The collected sperm are used in a process to help women get pregnant called in vitro fertilization.

A clear tissue that lines the pelvic and abdominal cavity.

An anti-seizure medication.

A small gland located just below the hypothalamus in the brain that controls the ovaries, thyroid, and adrenal glands. It regulates ovarian function by releasing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Problems with this gland can cause irregular or absent ovulation in females and abnormal or absent sperm production in males.

A disk-shaped vascular organ attached to the wall of the uterus and to the fetus by the umbilical cord. It provides nourishment to the fetus and carries away waste.

Lung inflammation.

A condition where the ovaries have many follicles, leading to chronic lack of ovulation and high levels of male hormones. The cystic-appearing follicles remain because ovulation does not occur and eggs aren't released. Symptoms can include irregular periods, excess body hair growth (hirsutism), and difficulty getting pregnant. PCOS can also be linked to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes; Formerly called Stein-Leventhal syndrome.

A general term that describes any mass of tissue which bulges or projects outward or upward from the average surface level.

A disorder occurring during pregnancy that affects both the mother and the fetus. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure, swelling, and protein found in the urine. This disorder, also know as toxemia, can restrict the flow of blood to the placenta.

A test that involves taking a few cells from the embryo and testing them for specific inherited genetic conditions.

Cessation of menstrual periods due to failure of the ovaries before age 40. They are also known as early menopause.

Pain associated with menstrual periods that decreases with age.

A female hormone is usually secreted by the corpus luteum after ovulation during the second half of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase). It prepares the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for implantation of a fertilized egg and also allows for complete shedding of the endometrium at the time of menstruation. In the event of pregnancy, the progesterone level remains stable beginning a week or so after conception.

A synthetic hormone that has an action similar to progesterone. Synonymous with progestational hormones.

A hormone normally secreted by the pituitary gland into the bloodstream to maintain milk production during lactation. When secreted in excessive amounts, it may lead to irregular or absent menstrual periods and produce a milk-like discharge from the breasts.

The nuclei of the male and female gametes (sperm and egg) seen in the one-cell embryo (zygote).

Hormone-like chemicals are produced in large amounts by endometrial cells. They stimulate the uterine muscles to contract and are largely responsible for menstrual cramps.

A hormonal state created by taking medication and characterized by low estrogen levels similar to those found at menopause.

A lung disease that affects premature infants and causes increasing difficulty in breathing.

A uterus that is tilted backwards. This is found in approximately 10% of normal women.

A hormonal state in which estrogen levels fall to menopause levels; ovulation and menstruation do not occur. Reversible menopause is created by taking GnRH analogs.

A less invasive surgical technique where a surgeon operates robotic arms using a computer console.

The last vertebrae of the spinal column; the base of the spine.

An operation in which one or both of the fallopian tubes are removed.

Removal of a fallopian tube and ovary together.

A surgical procedure in which the wall of the fallopian tube is opened and the ectopic pregnancy is removed. The tubal incision heals spontaneously.

Pain associated with menstrual periods that begins later in a person’s reproductive life span. It may be due to an abnormal condition such as endometriosis or infection.

The fluid that a man releases from his body during ejaculation.

A very close look at semen, the liquid a man releases during ejaculation. It is checked for how much there is (volume), how many sperm it has (count), how well they can move (motility), and what they look like (morphology) in addition to other things.

A band of fibrous tissue from birth forms a wall within the uterine cavity. A septum may increase the risk of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.

An infection, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea that is transmitted by sexual activity. In female, some STIs can cause pelvic infections and lead to infertility by damaging the fallopian tubes and increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy. In the male, STIs can cause blockage of the ductal system that transports sperm.

Offspring (child) born singly.

A group linked with the ASRM, consisting of representatives from assisted reproductive technology programs that have proven their capability to conduct IVF.

The cells made by the testicles that can start a baby by joining with an egg. The sperm is made up of a head that carries genetic material, a middle part that makes energy, and a long tail that wiggles to help the sperm move.

A birth defect of the spinal column. Spina bifida is the failure of the spine to close properly during development.

A steroid hormone that directly blocks the effect of androgens on the skin. It initially was used as a diuretic or water pill to increase urine output. A brand name is Aldactone®.

Hormones that are derived from cholesterol. Categories of steroids include sex steroids (estrogens, androgens, progestogens), glucocorticoids (hormones that closely resemble cortisol), and mineralocorticoids (hormones related to aldosterone and involved in fluid and electrolyte control). Man-made steroids closely resemble cortisol, a hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands. Steroids decrease inflammation, reduce immune system activity, and are used to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases and conditions.

A procedure to facilitate fertilization. The woman is given ovulation-inducing drugs, which cause her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. When the eggs are ready to be released, the woman is inseminated with her partner’s sperm or donated sperm.

A surrogate is a type of gestational carrier who both provides the egg and carries the pregnancy. The surrogate is genetically related to the child.

Thread used to close an incision made during surgery. It is generally absorbable.

The long, coarse, thick hairs that normally grow in the scalp, pubic, and armpit areas of men and women and the face, chest, abdomen, upper arms, and upper thighs of men.

The two oval-shaped organs in the scrotum that make sperm and the hormone testosterone.

Minor surgery where some tissue is removed from the testicles to get live sperm. Collected sperm are used in a process called in vitro fertilization to start a pregnancy.

The main male hormone which is made in the testicles. It helps make sperm, create male physical features, and generate sexual desire. The ovaries also make very small amounts of testosterone.

A large, two-lobed endocrine gland located in front of and on either side of the trachea (windpipe) in the neck secretes the hormone thyroxin into the bloodstream. Thyroxin maintains average body growth and metabolism.

Medications that may slow or stop premature labor.

See Preeclampsia.

A woman who carries a pregnancy intended for an infertile couple. The surrogate's egg is fertilized with sperm from the male partner of the infertile couple.

An imaging method where a smooth, cylindrical probe is inserted into the vagina. It uses sound waves to create images of organs displayed on a video screen.

A procedure using a thin ultrasound probe through the vagina, along with a needle, to guide the collection of eggs from the ovaries.

A surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are clamped, clipped, or cut to prevent pregnancy.

A lesion (sore) on the surface of the skin or on a mucous surface, usually inflamed. As an occasional side effect of methotrexate therapy, temporary ulcers may form in the mouth.

An image of internal organs created using high-frequency sound waves and displayed on a video screen. It's used to track the growth of ovarian follicles or a fetus and to collect eggs. Ultrasound can be done on the abdomen or through the vagina.

Tubes connecting each kidney to the bladder.

Inability to spontaneously empty the bladder.

Abnormal masses of smooth muscle tissue that grow within the uterine wall. Also called myomas or leiomyomas.

A congenital abnormality caused by a band of tissue in the midsection of the uterus that divides the normal uterine cavity.

Ligaments that attach to the lowest part of the uterus and the cervix to the sacrum.

The hollow, muscular female reproductive organ in the pelvis is where an embryo implants and grows during pregnancy. The lining of the uterus, the endometrium, produces the monthly menstrual blood flow when there is no pregnancy.

The canal in the female that leads to the cervix, which leads to the uterus.

The two muscle-lined tubes that move sperm from a part called the epididymis to the urethra.

The soft, fine, usually short hairs that appear on the face, chest, and back of women, giving the impression of “hairless” skin.

Presence of a blood clot in the vein.

A super-fast freezing method for eggs and embryos, which might have some benefits over traditional freezing techniques

The egg’s outer layer that a sperm must penetrate in order to fertilize the egg.

A fertilized egg before cell division (cleavage) begins.

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