Glossary of Terms

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Abandoned cycle

An IVF or ICSI abandoned cycle is a cycle cancelled before egg collection.


A band of scar tissue which can form following surgery, infection or injury and which causes pelvic or other organs to stick together.

Anti-sperm antibodies

Antibodies are produced by the immune system to fight off foreign substances, like bacteria. Anti-sperm antibodies may attach themselves to sperm and inhibit movement and their ability to fertilize. Professionals differ in their opinion as to the relevance of anti sperm antibodies and their impact on treatment.

Assisted reproduction

The name for treatments that enable people to conceive by means other than sexual intercourse. Assisted reproduction techniques include Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI), In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), sperm donation and egg donation.


Loss or reduction of motility of the sperms.


When a manís semen sample does not contain any sperm.


A procedure used to remove a small sample of tissue.

Blastocyst Culturing

Continued culturing of embryos from day 3 following egg collection and fertilisation to day 5 or 6. Each embryo will be monitored closely to assess the rate of cell division, fragmentation and characteristics of the outer shell of the embryo.

Body mass index (BMI)

The measurement used to define the range of healthy weight. Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared (that is, your height in metres multiplied by itself).


The lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb).


Chromosomes are thread-like bodies of DNA which contain the genetic code in genes. Half of the chromosomes will be inherited from the mother and the other half from the father.

Chlamydia trachomatis (Chlamydia)

A sexually transmitted infection which can damage a manís or womanís reproductive system if it is not diagnosed and treated. The person may be asymptomatic.


Cell division in early embryos necessary for development.

Congenital malformations

Malformations present at birth (birth defects) which can be genetic.


A support mechanism for those with fertility difficulties. Counseling may also help couples to understand the implications and consequences of treatment.


Embryos, sperm and oocytes can be frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen for use at a later date.

Day 3 Embryo Culture (cleavage stage embryos)

This is the number of days the embryos are nurtured for in the IVF laboratory before being transferred to the female partnerís uterus.

Day 5 Embryo Culture

This refers to Ďextendedí nurturing of embryos in the IVF laboratory for an additional two days to blastocyst stage before being transferred to the female partnerís uterus.

Diminishing Ovarian Reserve

This is the term used to describe the point where a womanís body starts to produce fewer eggs. Diminishing Ovarian Reserve (DOR) is usually age related.

Ectopic pregnancy

A complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tube.

Egg (oocyte)

The gamete produced in the ovary of a woman.

Egg donor

A female who donates her eggs for the treatment of others.


The release of seminal fluid at orgasm.


A fertilized egg that has begun cell division.

Embryo grading

In the laboratory embryos are Ďgradedí according to their appearance. The number, shape and symmetry of the cells and any fragmentation is assessed and compared to the expected stage of development; this gives an indication of embryo quality and the potential of an embryo to develop into a pregnancy.

Embryo transfer

Procedure of replacing embryo(s) in the uterus.


A condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) appear and grow outside the uterine cavity, most commonly on the membrane which lines the abdominal cavity.


The lining of the womb which develops each month ready to receive the implanting embryo.

Fallopian tubes

The fallopian tubes connect together the ovaries and the uterus.


When an egg and sperm meet successfully to form a zygote.


Small fluid filled sacs that develop on the ovaries and usually contain eggs.

FSH - Follicle Stimulating Hormone

A hormone produced by the Pituitary Gland in the brain that stimulates the production of eggs in the ovaries. Drugs containing FSH are prescribed during an IVF cycle to stimulate the production of more than one egg in a cycle.


A Gamete is the generic term used to describe the male and female sex cells i.e. the sperm and the egg.

HSG Ė Hysterosalpingogram

A diagnostic procedure used to assess whether the fallopian tubes are blocked or open. A dye is injected into the tubes, this dye is then seen on an x-ray and can confirm whether the fallopian tubes are patent (open).

Intracytosplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI is a procedure used in IVF treatment where a manís sperm sample is suboptimal and conventional IVF treatment may not be as effective for the couple. The ICSI procedure involves selecting the male partnerís best quality sperms and injecting one into each mature egg produced by the female partner.

In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

IVF is a type of fertility treatment where eggs are collected from the female partnerís uterus and placed in a culture dish with prepared sperm produced by the male partner or donor. The eggs and sperm are monitored in the IVF clinic laboratory for 24 hours for signs of fertilisation. If successful, the fertilised eggs will continue to be monitored for up to 5 days as they develop into embryos ready to be transferred into the female partnerís uterus. See also Day 3 Transfer and Blastocyst Culture.

Intra-uterine Insemination

IUI is a less invasive type of fertility treatment than IVF/ICSI. This treatment involves using a prepared semen sample from the male partner or donor and transferring the sperm into the female partnerís uterus at the time of ovulation in order to maximise the chance of a pregnancy.


A surgical procedure in which a telescopic camera (laparoscope) is inserted through a small incision in the navel to examine the pelvic cavity.


Used to describe the shape of sperm but can also be used to describe the appearance of the cells within an embryo.


A term used in semen analysis to describe the movement of sperm.

Multiple pregnancy

A pregnancy in which there is more than one fetus developing. Fertility treatment may result in a multiple pregnancy if more than one embryo is transferred or if more than one follicle develops during ovulation induction.


Human egg.


This term is used to describe low concentrations of sperm in a manís semen sample.

Ovarian Reserve

Unlike men who donít start to produce sperm until puberty, women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have. Ovarian reserve is the term used to describe the number of eggs a woman is likely to produce in a particular cycle or fertile period.


Ovulation is the point in a female menstrual cycle whereby a mature ovarian follicle (part of the ovary) discharges an egg (also known as an ovum, oocyte, or female gamete). It is during this process that the egg travels down the fallopian tube where it may be met by a sperm and become fertilised.

Ovulation Induction (OII) cycle monitoring

OII is a non-invasive type of fertility treatment where medication is used to stimulate a womanís ovaries into producing more eggs. The medication also controls the time of ovulation so that sexual intercourse can be planned to optimise the chance of pregnancy.

Oestradiol (Oetrogen)

The female sex hormone that is produced by the ovaries.

OHSS Ė Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

On occasion (though rarely) too many follicles and eggs are produced in an IVF treatment cycle. This is known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) and may lead to a cycle being abandoned until symptoms subside.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is particularly associated with injection of a hormone called human chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) which is used for oocyte maturation and to trigger oocyte release.

Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)

This is a type of sperm retrieval technique required where a man is azoospermic (his ejaculate does not contain any sperm). A minor procedure is carried out under sedation to retrieve sperm by inserting a needle directly into the epididymis gland (where sperm is stored after production) and aspirating sperm.

Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

PGD is a diagnostic procedure sometimes used with IVF treatment to detect genetic abnormalities in embryos. The use of PGD can prevent the transfer of genetic disorders from parents - who may suffer from or be a carrier of a disorder - onto their children by identifying whether or not an embryo is affected with a particular gene before the embryo is transferred.

PCOS Ė Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

A condition in which the ovaries produce small cysts or follicles which can cause a hormone imbalance and ovulatory problems.


Female hormone that prepares the lining of the womb for pregnancy. Progesterone levels fall if a pregnancy does not occur and the lining of the womb is shed.

Semen analysis

Used to assess the parameters in seminal fluid produced at the time of ejaculation.

Spermatozoa (sperm)

Male gamete produced in the testes.

Sperm donor

A man who donates his sperm for use in treatment by others.

Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)

An open biopsy where a small piece of testicular tissue is removed through a skin incision. The tissue is placed in culture media and separated into tiny pieces. Sperm are released from within the seminiferous tubules where they are produced and are then extracted from the surrounding testicular tissue. This procedure can be done using local anaesthetic of IV sedation. It is possible to get enough sperm to freeze for future use.


The male hormone responsible for the formation of secondary sex characteristics and for supporting the sex drive. Testosterone is also necessary for spermatogenesis.

Transvaginal scan

An ultrasound examination performed by means of inserting a probe into the vagina. This type of ultrasound is common for viewing follicle growth.

Ultrasound scan

Scan used to monitor the development of follicles during ovarian stimulation, and to Ďseeí the follicles during egg collection, as well as to confirm the presence of an early pregnancy.


The uterus or womb is the female organ which supports the growth of an embryo and eventually a baby.


This is a new type of rapid freezing technique which has been scientifically proven to improve the success rates of cryopreserved and thawed sperm and embryos when compared with conventional slow-rate freezing techniques.


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