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GLOSSARY OF TERMS

We have tried to make this information easy to understand but some terms are frequently used and if you are uncertain of their meaning please use the glossary.

ADHESION
In infertility, scar tissue which connects ovaries, tubes, uterus, bowel and abdominal lining.  May follow pelvic surgery, tubal infections or endometriosis which would normally not be present.  Adhesions may occur after sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia or gonorrhoea, endometriosis, pelvic surgery or perforation of the bowel or appendix.

AGONIST
An abbreviated term used by people working in assisted reproduction to refer to GnRH agonist.

ANDROGEN
Male sex hormones, such as testosterone, also present in the female.

ANOVULATION
The state of not ovulating.

ANTAGONIST
An abbreviated term used by people working in assisted reproduction to refer to GnRH antagonist.

ANTIBODY
In infertility, a compound in the blood, mucus or semen which interferes with normal function.

ASSISTED HATCHING
A process in which a small hole is made in the shell of the egg (zona) with the intention of improving pregnancy.  It is rarely performed as there is no evidence of benefit and recent evidence suggests it may be detrimental.

AZOOSPERMIA
Absence of sperm in the ejaculate.

BIOCHEMICAL PREGNANCY
Is a positive pregnancy test (HCG) which either falls in level or is followed by a period before an ultrasound can demonstrate a sac (a sac is generally seen at 6 weeks or 2 weeks after the first positive pregnancy test).

BLASTOCYST
The stage of embryo development reached at 5 - 6 days after fertilisation.  A blastocyst has a cavity of fluid and a small area of cells called the inner cell mass which will become the baby.

CATHETER
A fine tube developed for the transfer of sperm or embryos into the woman’s uterus.

CERVICAL MUCUS
Secretions produced by the cervix that, at the time of ovulation, assist the passage of sperm through the reproductive system of the female.

CERVIX
The lower part of the uterus that connects with the vagina.

CETROTIDE
A type of GnRH agonist.

CHROMOSOME
A long strand of genetic material (DNA).  Humans have 46 pairs of chromosomes and a single pair of sex chromosomes – XX (female) or XY (male).

CLINICAL PREGNANCY
A pregnancy which has advanced to 6 weeks gestation at which time a sac can be seen in the uterus on vaginal ultrasound.

CLINICAL PREGNANCY – VIABLE
A pregnancy with the presence of a foetal heart beat at ultrasound.

CLOMIPHEHE CITRATE
A drug taken by mouth to stimulate the ovary to produce several follicles.  Also called Clomid™ or Seraphene™.

CRINONE GEL™
A vaginal gel containing progesterone that is used as an alternative to progesterone vaginal pessaries.

CRYOPRESERVATION
Freezing eggs, ovarian tissue, embryos or sperm for thawing at a later time.

CRYOSTORAGE
Freezing eggs, ovarian tissue, embryos or sperm for thawing at a later time.

CULTURE MEDIUM / MEDIA
The fluid in which eggs, sperm and embryos are grown.

CYST
- A fluid filled sac or cavity.
- It may or may not contain an egg
- Not all cysts are follicles.

CYSTIC FIBROSIS
A serious inherited disease which is associated with tenacious mucous secretion (giving bronchitis and chest disease) and infertility.  One in twenty-two people carry the gene for this disease and therefore people donating sperm or eggs are screened for carrier status.

DONOR EGG (OOCYTE)
Eggs taken from one woman and donated to another (the recipient).

DONOR SPERM
Sperm donated by a man who is not the woman’s partner.

DOWN REGULATION
A term used in infertility to refer to switching off  the messages from the pituitary gland (pea-sized gland located behind the eyes) to the ovary to prevent early ovulation or release of the eggs.  It is usually achieved by taking GnRH agonist for greater than a week.

ECTOPIC PREGNANCY
A pregnancy in which the fertilised egg implants anywhere but in the uterine cavity;  usually in the fallopian tubes, or rarely the ovary or the abdominal cavity.

EJACULATE
Semen ejected from the penis.

EMBRYO
The cells resulting from fertilisation of the egg by the sperm, which have the potential to become a baby.

EMBRYO CYROPRESERVATION OR CRYOSTORAGE
The freezing of embryos for later thawing and transfer.

EMBRYO TRANSFER (ET)
The placement of embryos into the uterus using a fine catheter,

ENDOMETRIOSIS
The presence of endometrial tissue (the normal uterine lining) in abnormal locations such as the tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity (abdomen).

ENDOMETRIUM
The lining of the uterus, which grows and is shed each menstrual cycle.

FALLOPIAN TUBES
The narrow tubes that carry the egg from the ovary to the body of the uterus.

FERTILISATION
The penetration of the egg by the sperm.

FIBROIDS
A benign tumour of muscular and fibrous tissue within the uterine wall (also called myomas).

FIMBRIATED ENDS
The feathery outer ends of the fallopian tubes that collect the ovulated egg from the ovary.

FOETUS
The developing human after embryo stage from the 9th week of pregnancy to birth.

FOLLICLE
The cyst (fluid filled cavity) in which the egg (oocyte) develops.

FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE (FSH)
A hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which stimulates growth of eggs in the woman and sperm in the man.

FOLLICULAR PHASE
The first half of the menstrual cycle when ovarian follicular development occurs.  (eggs develop).

GAMETE
The male or female reproductive cells, the sperm or the egg.

GAMETE INTRA-FALLOPIAN TRANSFER (GIFT)
The placement of eggs from the female partner and washed sperm into a normal fallopian tube using a fine sterile plastic tube.  This is very rarely performed nowadays and antedated IVF.

GnRH
Gonadotrophin releasing hormone, a hormone released by the brain which causes the pituitary gland to release the correct amount of FSH and/or LH.

GnRH AGONIST
A nasal spray or injection given daily during an IVF cycle to block the release of the egg.  The two types used are nafarelin (Synarel ™) and leuprolide (Lucrin ™), also called GnRH agonist. 

GnRH ANTAGONIST
An injection given midway through the FSH injections of an IVF cycle to block release of the eggs.  Two types called cetrorelix (Cetrotide?) and ganirelix (Orgalutran?, also called GnRH antagonist


GONADOTROPHIN
A hormone that is capable of stimulating the testicles or ovaries to produce sperm or egg respectively.  Refers to FSH and LH.

HIV (HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS) ANTIBODIES
Test done on male and female patients to test for exposure to the AIDS virus.  A positive test often means that exposure to AIDS has occurred.  The antibodies take three months to develop after exposure to the virus.

HORMONE
A chemical that circulates in the blood, produced by a gland in the body.  A hormone has widespread action throughout the body.

HORMONE ASSAY
The measurement of the amount of a specific hormone.

HUMAN CHORIONIC GONADOTROPHIN (hCG)
A hormone secreted by the placenta in pregnancy that preserves the pregnancy.  The hormone is responsible for  pregnancy tests being positive.  It is often given after embryo transfer or insemination to maximise the chance of pregnancy occurring.  It is often given to induce ovulation (release of the eggs) prior to insemination.

HYDROSALPINX
A distended fallopian tube resulting from blockage of the fimbrial ends by scar tissue. The distension is due to fluid accumulation within the tube.

ICSI (INTRACYTOPLASMIC SPERM INJECTION)
The microinjection procedure is used when the number of normal sperm is very low or after a cycle with poor fertilisation.  It refers to the process by which a single sperm is injected into the egg.

IMPLANTATION
The embedding of an embryo into the lining of the uterus.

INFERTILITY
The inability to conceive or carry a baby to term after twelve months of unprotected sexual intercourse though some authorities define infertility as occurring after 24 months of unprotected sexual intercourse in women younger than 34 yrs.

INSEMINATION
A shortened term to refer to intrauterine insemination.

INTRAUTERINE INSEMINATION
The placement of prepared sperm into the uterus using a fine tube.

IN VITRO FERTILISATION (IVF)
IVF is the procedure by which the egg from a female partner and the sperm from a male partner are mixed in the laboratory.

KARYOTYPE
A test performed on blood which counts the number of chromosomes a person has.

LAPAROSCOPY
A surgical procedure during which a telescope-like instrument in inserted through the belly button to have a look at the pelvic organs.

LH SURGE
The release of large amounts of luteinising hormone (LH) that triggers ovulation within 24 hours in a female.

LUCRIN
Trade name for leuprolide, an injectable GnRH agonist.

LUTEAL PHASE
The days of a menstrual cycle following ovulation up to menstruation.

LUTEINISING HORMONE (LH)
A hormone secreted by the pituitary in both men and women.  Its main function is to mature and release the egg (LH surge) in women and in the men to stimulate the production of testosterone.

MALE FACTOR
When the male sperm is abnormal and thought to be contributing to infertility.

MEDIUM / MEDIA
See culture medium / media.

MISSED ABORTION
A miscarriage in which a sac develops within the uterus but has no foetus (baby). Also called a blighted ovum.  The sac tissue produces HCG and so the pregnancy test is positive.

NAFARELIN
A GnRH agonist.

OESTROGEN
A hormone produced by the cells around the developing egg in the ovary.  It stimulates thickening of the lining of the uterus and has many other roles.

OHSS
See ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

OLIGOSPERMIA
An abnormally low number of sperm in the ejaculate.

OOCYTE
The egg cell produced in the ovary, also called ovum, egg or gamete.

ORGALUTRAN
Trade name for ganerilex.  An injectable medication given to prevent spontaneous ovulation.  Also known as a GnRH antagonist.

OVARIAN HYPERSTIMULATION SYNDROME (abbreviated OHSS)
A serious complication of using FSH injections in which too many eggs develop in the ovary and if hCG or LH is given, the ovaries become extremely large and fluid accumulates within the abdomen and lungs.  This is a life threatening complication.

OVULATION
The release of a mature egg from the ovary.

OVULATION INDUCTION
The use of medication to promote ovulation in women who do not ovulate.

PAPANICOLAOU SMEAR (Pap smear)
An important screening test for cancer of the cervix.   This painless test is recommended every two years for all women who have been sexually active.

PICK UP
A procedure performed through the vagina during which ripe eggs are collected from the ovary for IVF.

PITUITARY
A gland located behind the eyes at the base of the human brain that secretes a number of important hormones related to normal growth, development and reproduction.

POLYCYSTIC OVARIES
A defined appearance of the ovaries on ultrasound, present in one in four women,  which predicts a sensitivity to FSH and increased risk of OHSS.  A condition characterised by two of three features:
1. State of not ovulating.
2. High androgen levels in the blood.
3. Ultrasound evidence of polycystic ovaries.
It predicts a high risk of diabetes mellitus in later life, particularly if associated with obesity and other conditions known collectively as the metabolic syndrome.

PREGNANCY RATE
A term used to express the number of pregnancies resulting from a number of treatment cycles.  See separate information sheet.

PROGESTERONE
Hormone produced by follicle after ovulation and by the placenta during pregnancy.  Progesterone is important for its role in preparing the lining of the uterus for implantation of the fertilised egg.

PROGESTERONE PESSARIES
A wax capsule containing progesterone which is inserted into the vagina to supplement the body’s naturally produced progesterone.  These pessaries are usually prescribed during IVF/GIFT treatment.

SEMEN
Fluid issued from the penis during ejaculation, which contains sperm and other substances.

SYNAREL
Trade name for nafarelin acetate, a type of GnRH agonist.  Synarel is an artificially produced hormone similar to that which is naturally produced by the body which initially stimulates and then suppresses the pituitary gland.  It is used in IVF for down regulation treatment.

TESTICLE
The male sex gland that produces testosterone and sperm.

TESTICULAR BIOPSY
Open – The removal of testicular tissue (0.5millilitre) from men with very poor sperm production and the isolation of sperm for ICSI.  This procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic.
Fine Needle – This is performed under a local anaesthetic and involves the insertion of a needle into the testis to remove a small fragment of sperm tubule in cases of obstruction.  In this setting, an adequate number of sperm can be obtained for use in ICSI.

UTERUS
Womb of the female, the pelvic organ connected to the vagina from which menstrual flow occurs and in which the baby develops.

VAGINAL ULTRASOUND
Technique used to visualise the female reproductive system using sound waves, which is painless and without harm.

ZONA  (A term for zona pellucida)
The shell or outer covering of the egg which is breached by fertilisation, microinjection or embryo biopsy.

 

 

 
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Greenslopes Private Hospital
Newdegate Street Greenslopes QLD 4120