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Midwest Reproductive Center





Active follicles:

Sacks of fluid in the ovary that contain the egg for that month


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


The absence of menstruation.

Antral follicle count:

A count of the number of active follicles forming in a woman’s ovaries in any given month; can be used as an indicator of fertility, or ovarian reserve.

Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH)

A screening test that will tell us the status of the woman’s ovarian reserve.


Primarily a male sex hormone that is present in smaller amounts in females.


The total absence of ovulation. A menstrual cycle where ovulation does not occur.


A blind-ended tube connected to the intestine. It serves no purpose in digestion and is thought to be “vestigial” or to have lost its original function

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.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART):

ART includes all fertility treatments in which both eggs and sperm are handled. In general, ART procedures involve surgically removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries, combining them with sperm in the laboratory, and returning them to the woman’s body or donating them to another woman. They do not include treatments in which only sperm are handled (e.g., intrauterine—or artificial—insemination) or procedures in which a woman takes medicine only to stimulate egg production without the intention of having eggs retrieved.


A complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate. Sperm may still be produced but they are not being delivered to the semen.


Decreased sperm motility.

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Basal Body Temperature (BBT) test:

The temperature of a woman taken every morning during a cycle. It is done to help determine if ovulation has taken place.

Baseline Ultrasound:

An ultrasound conducted before starting therapy to determine the general position and condition of the ovaries and the uterus.

Blastocyst Transfer:

An embryo that is allowed to grow for 5 days prior to placing it back into the uterus

Body mass index (BMI):

A measurement which compares weight and height



Cervical Mucus:

Mucus produced by the cervix that permits passage of sperm into the uterus at the time of ovulation.


Lower section of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina, through which the sperm pass to reach the uterus.

Chemical Pregnancy:

A pregnancy that can only be determined by measuring hormones but is too early to be seen on a sonogram. A chemical pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants into the uterine wall but stops growing shortly. If a pregnancy test is taken just at the right time it will be positive, however, when a repeat test is taken several days later it will be negative. Thus a chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage.


Fertilization; when the sperm meets and penetrates the egg.

Congenital abnormalities:

Birth defects are also called “congenital anomalies” or “congenital abnormalities.” The word “congenital” means “present at birth.” The words “anomalies” and “abnormalities” mean that there is a problem present in a baby.

Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation:

Stimulation of the ovaries with various hormonal medications in order to develop multiple follicles, as well as to control the timing of ovulation.

Corpus Luteum:

A structure that forms In the ovary after it releases an egg. The corpus luteum releases some estrogen and mostly progesterone, two hormones necessary for maintaining a pregnancy. If pregnancy occurs, the corpus luteum functions for three to four months. If pregnancy does not occur, it stops functioning.


Storage of organs or tissues at very low temperatures. Embryos that are not used in an ART cycle can be cryopreserved for future use (e.g. “egg freezing” or “embryo freezing”).

Chromosomal abnormality:

Chromosomal abnormalities usually result from an error that occurs when an egg or sperm cell develops or as the genetic material of the egg and sperm combined. Example: Down’s syndrome is a miss-division of the genetic material resulting in 3 copies of chromosome #21


Hair-like projections that line the fallopian tube to pick up and transport the egg through the fallopian tube.

Culture medium:

A growth medium or culture medium is a liquid or gel designed to support the growth of cells. With embryo culture media it mimics the fluids found in the fallopian tubes and uterus.


A closed sac of fluid usually found in the ovary. Once formed, a cyst may go away on its own or may have to be removed through surgery or needle-aspiration

Cystic fibrosis:

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of both children and adults. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that can clog the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and can obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.



D&C procedure:

A procedure usually done after a miscarriage to remove tissue remaining behind that is attached to the uterine wall.

Day 3 testing:

Blood work done to detect levels of FSH in the body. A high FSH level on Day 3 of the menstrual cycle can be a predictor of a poor prognosis for pregnancy and diminished ovarian reserve.

Diabetes, type 2

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, as well as the older segments of the population. This is found much more commonly in women who have polycystic ovaries and is associated with anovulation.

Distal fallopian tube:

The portion of the fallopian tube farthest from the uterus; closest to the ovary

Dominant follicle:

The largest follicle in the ovary in any given cycle; this follicle will mature to ovulate the oocyte


Cramping and pain around the time of menstruation.


Poor quality or inadequate cervical mucus that can prohibit sperm passage.


Pain with intercourse



Ectopic Pregnancy:

Implantation of an embryo in a place other than the uterus.

Egg maturation:

Process where an oocyte growing in a follicle will be prepared for ovulation and fertilization.

Egg Retrieval:
A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for use in in vitro fertilization. The procedure is performed by using a needle and ultrasound to aspirate the contents of the follicle in the ovary.


As a noun, it refers to the mixture of sperm and seminal fluid that comes out of a man’s penis during sexual stimulation. As a verb, it refers to the passing of this material.


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.

Endometrial Biopsy:

The removal of a sample of the lining of the uterus for examination.


A disease whereby cells lining the uterus (or endometrium) get outside of the uterus and stick to other organs, causing pain. This is one of the most common causes of infertility and is treatable.


Endometrial Lining: The lining of the uterus.


The organ in a man where sperm are stored, nourished and mature after production.


The most potent naturally occurring estrogen in humans, which is released from the ovary.


Hormone that stimulates secondary female sexual characteristics and controls the course of the menstrual cycle. Also produced in low quantities in males.


One of the relatively weak estrogens, which is produced in large amounts in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) patients.



Fallopian Tubes:

The duct or tube through which the eggs travel to the uterus after being released from the follicle. Sperm normally meet the egg in the fallopian tube, and this is where fertilization takes place.

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), controlled ovarian stimulation, and microsurgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes. The goal of fertility treatment is to help couples have a child.


The combining of the genetic material carried by sperm and egg to create an embryo. Normally occurs inside the fallopian tube (in vivo) but may also occur in a Petri dish (in vitro). (See also In Vitro Fertilization.)


Benign (not malignant or life-threatening) tumor of fibrous tissue that can occur in the uterine wall. Fibroids may be totally without symptoms or may cause abnormal menstrual patterns and infertility.


The finger-like extensions on the fallopian tubes that sweep the egg into the fallopian tube.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH):

A pituitary hormone that stimulates follicular development and spermatogenesis (sperm development). In a woman, FSH stimulates the growth of the ovarian follicle. In a man, FSH stimulates the Sertoli cells in the testicles and supports sperm production. Elevated FSH levels are associated with gonadal failure in both men and women.


Fluid-filled sacs in the ovary which contain the egg which will be released at ovulation. Each month an egg develops within the follicle in the ovary.



Follicular phase:

The first 14 days of a woman menstrual cycle when the egg is developing prior to ovulation.

Folic acid:

A B vitamin necessary for the formation of normal brain and spinal cord tissue in a growing fetus


A reproductive cell: sperm in men, the egg in women.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT):

After egg retrieval, the eggs are mixed with sperm and then placed—using laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure—into a woman’s fallopian tubes for in vivo fertilization.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH):

A substance secreted every 90 minutes or so by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. This hormone enables the pituitary to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulate the gonads.


Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland that control reproductive function, such as luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).


Glands that make the gametes (testicles and ovaries).




Excessive hair growth on the face or chest

High cholesterol:

Total Cholesterol less than 200

High blood pressure:

BP less than 130/85

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG):

The hormone produced in early pregnancy, released by the placenta after implantation, which keeps the corpus luteum producing estradiol and progesterone and thus prevents menstruation and miscarriage. 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.


Inadequate ovarian or testicular function as shown by low sperm production or lack of follicle production, as well as low or absent levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism/Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadal (HH):

Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH) is a rare condition in which impaired activity of the hypothalamus or pituitary results in below-normal function of the gonads and in abnormally low luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) serum levels and consequential negligible estrogen levels. (The gonads are the ovaries and testes. The hormones they normally produce include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.)


The gland at the base of the brain that controls the release of hormones from the pituitary glands.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG):

An X-ray procedure in which a liquid dye (contrast) is injected through the cervix into the uterine cavity to illustrate the inner shape of the uterus and degree of openness of the fallopian tubes. If the tubes are open, the liquid will spill out the ends of the tubes. If the tubes are blocked, the liquid is trapped.


A visual examination of the uterus using an instrument called a hysteroscope, which enables the doctor to see inside the uterus by entering through the cervix.



Idiopathic Infertility:

The medical term for unexplained infertility, meaning no obvious diagnosis can be found.

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):

Retrieving eggs produced by administering fertility drugs and fertilizing them with 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).
Inheritable Disease

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):

A micromanipulation procedure that occurs under a microscope in which a single sperm is injected directly into the egg to enable fertilization with very low sperm counts or with non-motile sperm (sperm that don’t swim effectively toward the egg). The embryo is then transferred to the uterus.

Intramuscular (IM) Needle:

A needle designed to administer medication deep into the muscle. Injections of this type are usually given in the thigh or upper buttock area.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI):

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


A hormone secreted by the pancreases to regulates the uptake of Glucose (sugar) into the cells of the body.




A telescope with a camera attached is inserted into a small incision in the umbilicus. The surgeon operates from outside the body and removes endometriosis, adhesions, ovarian cysts and other abnormalities.


Open abdominal surgery: A surgeon makes a 5-inch to 7-inch incision either up and down or side to side across the belly. Reconstructive or corrective surgery on the pelvic organs, such as the uterus and the ovaries or removing fibroids can be completed.

Luteal Phase:

The second half or menstrual cycle after ovulation when progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH):

A pituitary hormone that stimulates the gonads. In a man, LH is necessary for spermatogenesis and for the production of testosterone. In a woman, LH is necessary for the production of estrogen.

Luteinizing Hormone Surge (LH SURGE):

The release of luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes the release of a mature egg from the follicle.



Natural aging process:

The gradual decrease in the production of eggs in a woman’s body as she grows older.


A total absence of moving sperm.


A natural biologic event, which represents the permanent cessation of menses resulting from loss of ovarian follicular function.


First period


Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding, which (in the absence of pregnancy) normally occurs about once a month in the mature female.


A variety of techniques that can be performed in a laboratory under a microscope. An embryologist manipulates egg and sperm to improve the chances of pregnancy. (See also Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, ICSI.)


Spontaneous loss of a viable embryo or fetus in the womb.
The physical structure, size and shape of the sperm.


The ability of sperm to swim. Poor motility means the sperm have a difficult time swimming toward the egg.


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




A condition that will not result in cancer


Having a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 30 kg/m2.


Infrequent ovulation.


Irregular menstrual periods.


Low number of sperm in the ejaculate of the male.


The egg.

Ovarian Failure:

The failure of the ovary to respond to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulation from the pituitary because the ovary has no more viable follicles or eggs. Chronic illnesses or autoimmune disease can cause this or sometimes it is inherited. Diagnosed by elevated FSH in the blood.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS):

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. When they are over stimulated they start to leak body fluid into the abdomen. This caused the blood to become more concentrated and increases the risks of blood clots and possibly even strokes.


The two sexual glands of the female where the eggs are stored. The ovaries also produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone.


The release of the egg (ovum) from the ovarian follicle.

Ovulation Induction (OI):

Medical treatment performed to initiate ovulation.

Ovulatory Dysfunction:

A problem with the ovary where the egg is not matured or released properly or the horomes estrogen or progesterone is abnormally low.


The egg and the largest cell in the body.



PAP smear:

A test where a sample of cells taken from a woman’s cervix. The test is used to look for changes in the cells of the cervix that show cervical cancer or conditions that may develop into cancer.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID):

Inflammatory disease of the pelvis (usually caused by infection) that can lead to scarring and infertility.\

Pituitary Gland:

The gland located at the base of the brain that secretes a number of important hormones that regulate fertility, as well as normal growth and development of the body.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):

This syndrome is where the ovary makes to muchtestosterone. This elevated testosterone causes: Anovulation, hirsutism, acne and weight gain. The Multiple cysts seen on the ovary are follicles that Started to develop but never grew far enough to Ovulate.


Post-Coital Test (PCT):

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


The hormone produced by the corpus luteum during the second half of a woman’s cycle. It prepares the lining of the uterus to accept implantation of a fertilized egg and maintains the pregnancy

Proximal tube:

The portion of the fallopian tube closest to the uterus and farthest from the ovary


The gland in the male that supplies some of the seminal fluid, and prepares the urethra for the passage of sperm.



Recombinant Human DNA (r-hDNA) Technology:

DNA that has been modified so that it contains genes from two different sources. Recombinant technology is often used to produce medications with a higher degree of purity and higher quality control.

Retrograde ejaculation:

Occurs when impairment of the muscles or nerves of the bladder neck prohibit it from closing during ejaculation. It may result from bladder surgery, a congenital defect in the urethra or bladder, or disease that affects the nervous system.

Reproductive Endocrinologist:

A highly trained and qualified physician who treats reproductive disorders that affect women, children and men.

Robot-assisted laparoscopy:

This procedure is similar to laparoscopy, but the surgeon controls a sophisticated robotic system of surgical tools from outside the body. Advanced technology allows the surgeon to use natural wrist movements and view the surgery on a three-dimensional screen




A sterile solution of sodium chloride (NaCl, more commonly known as salt).


The pouch at the base of the penis that contains the testicles.

Secondary infertility:

The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after the birth of one or more children.

Seminal Vesicles:

The pair of pouch-like glands around the prostate that produce the milky fluid that mixes with the sperm prior to ejaculation.

Sexually Transmitted Disease:

An infection or disease passed from person to person through sexual contact.

Sperm (spermatozoa):

The microscopic cell that carries the male’s genetic information to the female’s egg. The male reproductive cell. The male gamete.

Sperm Count:

The number of sperm in an ejaculate. Also called sperm concentration and given as the number of sperm per milliliter.


The production of sperm.


A condition that prevents conception.

Subcutaneous (SC) Injection:

Administration of medication with a fine small needle just below the surface of the skin, into fatty tissue.

Subcutaneous (SC) Needle:

A needle designed to administer medication just below the surface of the skin, into the fatty tissue.



Term Pregnancy:

A pregnancy that is present in the uterus for 40 weeks.


The two male sexual glands that produce sperm as well as the male hormone testosterone.


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


Obstruction of a blood vessel with material carried by the blood stream from the site of origin to plug another vessel.
serious blood clots (thrombosis)

Tubal Pregnancy:

The development and attachment of a fertilized egg in a fallopian tube. Also called and ectopic pregnancy.




A test used instead of X-rays to visualize the reproductive organs; for example, to monitor follicular development.


Hollow muscular organ where the fetus grows until birth.

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Muscular opening in a woman extending from the vulva to the cervix of the uterus.


Varicose veins in the testicle that can cause sperm abnormalities.

Vas Deferens:

The pair of tubes in the male that lead from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct in the prostate.



Vasectomy reversal:

Surgical re-connection of the Vas Deferens, the tubes that carry sperm from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct in the prostate. after sterilization.


Capable of supporting life.

Zona pellucida:

The hard shell or protective coating surrounding an unfertilized egg.