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Anovulation. Failure or absence of ovulation.

Basal body temperature (BBT.) The body temperature at rest. It is taken orally each morning immediately upon awakening and recorded on a BBT chart. The readings are studied to help identify when ovulation occurs, which is approximately the same time as the rise in BBT.

Cervix. The narrow, lower part of the uterus that opens into the vagina. The cervical canal runs through the cervix and connects the vagina with the uterine cavity. The cervix produces mucus that sperm must swim through before entering the uterine cavity and then the fallopian tubes.

Conception. The name given to the time when a sperm fertilizes an egg.

Corpus luteum. Tissue formed in the ovary from a mature follicle that has released its egg at ovulation. The corpus luteum secretes progesterone and estrogen during the second half of a normal menstrual cycle. The secreted progesterone prepares the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to support a pregnancy.

Embryo. The earliest stage of fetal growth after the egg has been fertilized by the sperm. It describes the fertilized egg until about the eighth week of pregnancy.

Donor embryo transfer. The transfer of an embryo derived from the egg of a volunteer donor to an infertile recipient.

Endometrial biopsy. The extraction of a small piece of tissue from the endometrium (lining of the uterus) for microscopic examination. The results indicate whether or not the endometrium is at the appropriate stage for implantation of a fertilized egg.

Endometriosis. A condition where patches of endometrial-like tissue (the tissue that lines the uterus) develop outside of the uterine cavity in abnormal locations such as the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and abdominal cavity. Endometriosis can grow with hormonal stimulation causing pelvic pain, inflammation, and scar tissue. It also may be associated with infertility.

Endometrium. The inner lining of the uterus.

Estrogen. The primary female sex hormone responsible for a woman’s physical development and maturity. Estrogen, together with progesterone, prepares the endometrium for the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Fallopian tubes. The pair of narrow tubes that carries the egg from the ovaries into the uterus. The sperm normally fertilizes the egg in the fallopian tubes.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). A hormone produced by the anterior pituitary gland that stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles.

Fertilization. The penetration of the egg by the sperm.

Follicle. A fluid-filled sac located just beneath the ovary’s surface that contains the immature egg (oocyte.)

Follicular phase. The phase of a woman’s cycle that begins on the first day of menstruation and continues until ovulation.

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT.) A method of assisted reproduction that involves surgically removing eggs from the woman’s ovary, combining them with sperm, and immediately injecting the eggs and sperm into the fallopian tube. Fertilization takes place inside the fallopian tube.

GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone.) A hormone, produced by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, that causes the anterior (front) pituitary gland to produce follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH.)

GnRH agonist/antagonist. Prescribed by your doctor during the down-regulation phase of infertility therapy. They prevent the natural production and release of FSH and LH from the anterior (front) pituitary gland. This allows your doctor to tightly regulate the amount of these gonadotropins that are released during the time you take fertility drugs.

Gonadotropins. Hormones, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH), that are normally secreted by the anterior pituitary gland to regulate reproduction.

hCG. Human chorionic gonadotropin, the hormone that works to release the mature eggs from their follicles. This is called ovulation.

Hysteroscopy. A diagnostic procedure in which a lighted scope (hysteroscope) is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to enable the physician to view the inside of the uterus.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG.) An x-ray procedure in which a special media (dye) is injected into the uterus to show the inner contour of the uterus and degree of openness (patency) of the fallopian tubes.

Implantation. The embedding of the embryo in the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium,) where it grows and is nourished during pregnancy.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI.) A micromanipulation technique used in conjunction with IVF that involves injecting a sperm directly into an egg in order to facilitate fertilization.

Intramuscular (IM) needle. A needle designed to administer medication deep into the muscle. IM injections are usually given in the upper buttock area and therefore usually need to be administered by the patient’s partner or a friend.

In vitro fertilization (IVF). A method of assisted reproduction that involves surgically removing eggs from the woman’s ovaries, combining them with sperm in the laboratory and, if fertilized, replacing the resulting embryo into the woman’s uterus. For more information on this topic, please visit our In vitro fertilization (IFV) page.

Laparoscope. A narrow, lighted viewing instrument with a telescopic lens.

Laparoscopy. A diagnostic procedure in which a surgeon inserts a laparoscope through a small incision below the navel and visually inspects the uterus, uterine ligaments, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and abdominal organs. Other incisions may also be made through which additional instruments can be inserted and manipulated to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of pelvic disease.

Luteal phase. The phase of the woman’s cycle that begins after ovulation and continues until the first day of menstruation.

Luteal phase defect. A condition present when the lining of the uterus does not mature properly in response to progesterone secretion by the ovary after ovulation.

Luteinizing hormone (LH.) The hormone that triggers ovulation and stimulates the corpus luteum to secrete progesterone.

Menstruation. The shedding of the uterine lining, a normal event that occurs once a month in the absence of pregnancy.

Oocyte. The clinical term for an egg cell, produced in a woman’s ovaries, before it is fertilized by a sperm cell. The plural of oocyte is “ova.”

Ovaries. The two female sex glands that produce eggs and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Ovulation. The release of a ripened egg from its follicle in the outer layer of the ovary. Ovulation usually occurs on day 14 or 15 of a 28-day cycle or 14 days prior to the first day of the next period.

Ovulatory dysfunction. Any set of conditions where a mature egg is not released from the follicle.

Ovum. The reproductive cell (egg) or oocyte that contains the DNA from the female partner.

Pituitary gland. Called the “master gland,” it is located in the brain and controls many important body functions including the secretion of important hormones like FSH and LH.

Progesterone. The hormone produced by the corpus luteum that helps thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Peritoneum. The lining of the abdominal cavity.

Postcoital test (PCT.) The microscopic analysis of a sample of cervical mucus, usually collected within 18 hours after intercourse. This test determines the ripeness of cervical mucus and the ability of sperm to enter and penetrate the mucus.

Progesterone. A female hormone secreted by the ovary during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg.

Semen analysis. The microscopic examination of the ejaculate to determine the number of sperm, their shapes, and their ability to move.

Sperm. The reproductive cell that contains the DNA from the male partner.

Subcutaneous (SC.) needle A needle designed to administer medication just below the surface of the skin, into the fatty tissue. SC injections can be self-administered by the patient.

Uterus. The hollow muscular organ in the pelvis where the embryo is implanted and the fetus grows during pregnancy. The uterus is sometimes called the womb.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT.) Eggs are collected and fertilized, and the resulting zygote is then transferred to the fallopian tube.

The information attributed to:
Published by The American Society for Reproductive Medicine under the direction of the Patient Education Committee and the Publications Committee. No portion herein may be reproduced in any form without written permission. This information is in no way intended to replace, dictate, or fully define evaluation and treatment by a qualified physician. It is intended solely as an aid for patients seeking general information on issues in reproductive medicine.

Additional Clinical Terms

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a common, simple treatment for many sperm problems. The results can be very positive. When sperm counts are low, swim poorly or antibodies exist, this process concentrates the sperm and places them directly into the uterus. A greater number of sperm arrive in Fallopian tubes to fertilize the egg.

Ovulation Testing helps pinpoint one of the frequent causes of infertility and miscarriages: ovulation problems. Ultrasound and hormone testing are critical to understanding how to use the best medications to correct these problems, maximizing your chances of success each month.

Ovulation Therapy is used when more aggressive treatment is necessary. Natural hormones (FSH) that stimulate the ovaries are given in exaggerated amounts, producing several eggs plus an ideal implantation site.

Sperm Testing is best done at true infertility centers such as our on-site andrology lab. Accurate testing will then lead to the best available treatment.