adhesions: Scar tissue that stops the fallopian tubes from moving freely.
amenorrhea: Absence of periods.
andrologist: A doctor specialising in the male reproductive organs.
aneuploiy: Having an abnormal number of chromosomes.
anovulation: When ovulation doesn't occur.
antisperm antibodies: Antibodies that 'attack' sperm and make them clump together so that they're unable to fertilise the egg. Also known as sperm antibodies.
artificial cycle: A cycle in which you take medication to mimic the hormones produced by your ovaries in a normal menstrual cycle, in preparation for the transfer of frozen embryos.
artificial insemination: Placing washed sperm in the uterus to help a woman to conceive.
assisted hatching: A technique whereby the embryologist makes a small hole in the zona pellucida to help the embryo hatch.
asthenospermia: Not enough sperm swimming forward.
asthenoteratospermia: Not enough sperm swimming forward and too many with abnormal shape.
azoospermia: No sperm.
beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (P-hCG): A pregnancy hormone that's measured in your blood after embryo transfer.
blastocyst: A five- to six-day old embryo.
blastocyst transfer: Transfer of embryos that have reached the blastocyst stage.
blastomeres: The individual cells in an embryo.
blighted ovum: A pregnancy without a foetus.
cervix: The neck of the womb.
chromosome: A DNA structure that contains the genes and is found in every cell of the body. Normal cells have 46 chromosomes: 23 inherited from the mother and 23 inherited from the father.
cleavage stage embryo: An embryo in its first stages of development.
clinical pregnancy: A pregnancy where clinical signs such as a gestational sack or a foetus are evident.
clomiphene citrate (CC): A drug in tablet form that stimulates follicle growth.
commissioning couple: A couple who enter an agreement with a woman to carry a pregnancy for them.
culture medium: Fluid containing all the nutrients essential for embryo development.
cycle: The time from the start of one period to the start of the next.
cycle day (cd): Each day of the menstrual cycle; the first day of the period is cd 1.
day two to three transfer: Transfer of embryos two or three days after egg collection.
donor-conceived child: A child born as a result of egg, sperm or embryo donation.
donor conception: A pregnancy conceived using donor eggs, sperm or embryos.
donor embryos: Embryos formed from the eggs and sperm of one couple and subsequently donated to another infertile couple.
donor gametes: Donor eggs or donor sperm.
ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy that implants and starts to grow outside the uterus, often in one of the fallopian tubes.
egg collection/retrieval/pick-up: An ultrasound-guided procedure whereby eggs are removed from the ovaries for the purpose of IVF treatment.
eggs: The female germ cells.
embryo: The developing human from the time of implantation to eight weeks' gestation.
embryo biopsy: The removal of one or two cells from an embryo to check whether the embryo is normal.
embryo cryopreservation: Embryo freezing.
embryo transfer: When embryos are placed in the uterus.
embryologists: Highly trained scientists who specialise in embryo culture.
embryonic stem cell research: Research to determine whether embryonic stem cells, which are cells that have the potential to develop into any type of cell in the body, can cure chronic illnesses.
endometriosis: A condition whereby the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (the endometrium) finds its way to other places in the body.
endometrium: The lining of the uterus.
estradiol valerate (EV): Synthetic oestrogen in tablet form.
fallopian tubes: The two tubes that at ovulation transport eggs from the ovary to the uterus.
female factor infertility: Couple infertility due to a female problem.
fertilise: When the sperm penetrates the egg.
flare protocol: A short hormone stimulation protocol for the simultaneous growth and maturation of multiple eggs.
foetus: The developing human from eight weeks' gestation until birth.
folic acid: A B vitamin that helps develop healthy cells.
follicles: Fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries where the eggs develop and mature.
follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): One of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland in the brain that regulates the menstrual cycle.
follicular phase: The first part of the menstrual cycle from the start of a period until ovulation.
fragmentation: Disintegration of one or more cells in an embryo.
gamete: Egg or sperm.
gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): A
procedure whereby eggs and sperm are placed in one of the fallopian tubes to help a woman to conceive.
gene: The basic hereditary unit made up of DNA and located in the chromosomes.
genetic condition: A health condition caused by 'faulty' genes.
gestational carrier: A woman who carries a pregnancy for another man and woman (the commissioning couple), who then raise the child. Also known as surrogate.
gestational surrogacy: A pregnancy carried by a woman who agrees to hand the baby to the commissioning couple after birth. Also known as surrogacy.
gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH): A hormone produced in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, responsible for the release of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone, two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
hormone: A chemical released in one part of the body that affects cells in another part of the body.
human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG):
A hormone produced by a growing pregnancy that is used in IVF to mature eggs because it has the same effect as luteinising hormone, which initiates oocyte (or egg) maturation and ovulation in the menstrual cycle.
hydrosalpinx: A blocked fluid-filled fallopian tube.
hysterosalpingogram: An X-ray of the uterus and the fallopian tubes.
hysteroscopy: Examination of the inside of the uterus.
idiopathic infertility: Infertility that has no apparent cause.
incubator: A container for developing embryos in the lab where a constant temperature and oxygen concentration are maintained.
infertility: The inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse.
A procedure used for male factor infertility where a single sperm is injected into an egg-
in-vitro fertilisation (IVF): Literally 'fertilisation in glass'; refers to fertilisation occurring in a lab rather than in the body.
in-vitro maturation (TVM): Immature eggs maturing in the lab.
IVF counsellor: A mental health professional specialising in the psychosocial aspects of infertility and IVF treatment.
IVF doctor: A doctor specialising in infertility and IVF treatment.
IVF nurse: A nurse specialising in the treatment of infertile couples having IVF treatment.
laparoscopy: A minor surgical procedure that allows the doctor to thoroughly examine a woman's fallopian tubes and uterus.
lifestyle modification programs: Programs aimed at improving general health to increase a couple's chance of pregnancy.
long protocol: A long hormone stimulation protocol for the simultaneous growth and maturation of multiple eggs.
luteal phase: The second part of the menstrual cycle, from ovulation until the next period.
luteinising hormone (LH): One of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland in the brain that regulates the menstrual cycle; its most important job is to trigger maturation and release of the egg (ovulation).
male factor infertility: Couple infertility due to a male problem.
menarche: A young woman's first period.
menopause: The time of a woman's life when her ovaries stop producing eggs.
micromanipulator: A specialised piece of equipment with joysticks that allows embryologists to perform precision work such as ICSI and PGD under the microscope.
microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA): Withdrawal of sperm from the top part of the testicle.
miscarriage: Pregnancy loss before 20 weeks of gestation.
oestrogen: A hormone produced in the ovaries, primarily before ovulation.
oligoasthenoteratospermia: Too few sperm, too many with abnormal shape and not enough swimming forward.
oligomenorrhea: Irregular and infrequent periods.
oligospermia: Fewer sperm than normal.
oligoteratospermia: Too few sperm and too many with abnormal shape.
ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): A potentially dangerous over-response to hormone stimulation.
ovarian reserve: The potential capacity of the ovaries to produce eggs.
ovarian stimulation protocol: A
combination of drugs used to stimulate the simultaneous growth and maturation of multiple eggs.
ovaries: The part of the female reproductive organ where eggs are stored.
ovulation: The release of an egg from the ovaries.
pathologist: A doctor specialising in the analysis and measurement of components in body fluid and tissue.
percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA): Withdrawal of sperm from the top part of the testicle.
A hormone imbalance that affects many bodily functions, including ovulation.
polycystic ovaries (PCO): Large numbers of small follicles in the ovaries.
pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD):
A technique whereby a cell is removed from an embryo to check the number of chromosomes and whether it's affected by genetic problems, so that only healthy embryos can be transferred.
premature ovarian failure: When the ovaries stop producing eggs in women under the age of 40.
primary infertility: Couples who have never conceived.
progesterone: A hormone produced in the ovaries, primarily in the second phase of the menstrual cycle after ovulation.
pronuclei (PN): Structures seen in eggs after fertilisation. If an egg has fertilised normally, two PN are seen the day after egg collection — one containing the genetic material from the egg and the other containing material from the sperm.
secondary infertility: Couples who are unable to conceive again after having one child or more.
short protocol: A short hormone stimulation protocol for the simultaneous growth and maturation of multiple eggs.
'slow freeze' method: An embryo cryopreservation technique whereby the temperature of the embryos is decreased over a period of some hours before they are placed in liquid nitrogen to avoid ice forming inside the cells.
sperm: The male germ cells.
sperm antibodies: Antibodies that 'attack' sperm and make them clump together, so that they're unable to fertilise the egg. Also known as antisperm antibodies.
stimulation response: The number of eggs produced in response to hormone stimulation.
success rate: The chance of having a baby with IVF.
supernumerary embryos: Embryos that a couple doesn't want or need.
surrogacy: A pregnancy carried by a woman who agrees to hand the baby to the commissioning couple after birth. Also known as gestational surrogacy.
surrogate: A woman who carries a pregnancy for another man and woman (the commissioning couple), who raise the child. Also known as gestational carrier.
teratospermia: Too many sperm with abnormal shapes.
testicular biopsy: Removal of small pieces of tissue from the testicles.
testicular sperm aspiration (TESA):
Withdrawal of sperm from the testicles.
testicular sperm extraction (TESE):
Withdrawal of sperm from the testicles.
ultrasonographer: An expert at interpretation of ultrasound imaging.
ultrasound: A non-invasive method using soundwaves to produce images of organs in the body, including a growing pregnancy.
uterus: The womb where the fertilised embryo implants and grows.
vasectomy: A minor surgical procedure whereby the tubes that carry the sperm from the testicles to the penis are tied, rendering the man sterile.
vitrification: A quick cryopreservation technique whereby embryos are placed in a droplet of a particular solution and then immediately placed in a special container that's cooled by liquid nitrogen.
zona pellucida: The layer of specialised cells surrounding the egg (the 'egg shell').
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Prior to planning pregnancy, you should learn more about the things involved in getting pregnant. It involves carrying a baby inside you for nine months, caring for a child for a number of years, and many more. Consider these things, so that you can properly assess if you are ready for pregnancy. Get all these very important tips about pregnancy that you need to know.