Glossary: Common Terms

Adhesion: Scar tissue band attached to organ surfaces, capable of connecting, covering or distorting organs, such as tubes, ovaries, uterus, and bowel.

AMH: Anti Mullerian Hormone that indicates ovarian reserve.

Blastocyst: Multicell embryo that is seen five days after fertilization.

Cervix: The lower section of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina and dilates during labor to allow the passage of the infant.

Conceptus: A general term referring to the product of the union of the oocyte and the sperm cell.

Corpus Luteum: A special gland that forms on the surface of the ovary at the site of ovulation and produces progesterone during the second half of the cycle. It is necessary to prepare the uterine lining for implantation by the fertilized egg.

Cryopreservation (Embryo Freezing): A procedure used to preserve (by freezing) and store embryos or gametes (sperm and eggs).

Embryo: The developing individual from approximately the second week of gestation until approximately the end of the second month of pregnancy.

Embryo Transfer: Introduction of an embryo into a woman’s uterus after in vitro fertilization.

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

Endometrium: The lining of the uterus.

Estrogen: The primary female hormone produced mainly by the ovary from puberty to menopause.

Fallopian Tube: A pair of tubes that conduct the egg from the ovary to the uterus. Normal fertilization takes place within this structure.

Fimbria: Finger-like outer ends of the Fallopian tubes.

Follicle: The fluid-filled sac on the ovary that has nurtured the egg and from which the egg is released during ovulation or aspiration.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone produced and released from the pituitary that stimulates the ovary to ripen a follicle for ovulation.

Gamete: A generic term referring to either the male sperm or the female oocyte (egg).

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): An x-ray to visualize the inner Fallopian tubes and check for patency.

Implantation: The embedding of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus.

In Vitro Fertilization/Conceptus Transfer: A procedure in which an egg is removed transvaginally from an ovarian follicle and fertilized artificially and placed intrauterine through a specialized catheter for embryo transfer.

Laparoscopy: Abdominal surgical exploration using a laparoscope (optic system) to view the Fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus.

Oocyte: The egg produced in the ovaries each month. Also called the ovum (gamete).

Ovaries: The female sex glands with both a reproductive function (releasing eggs) and a hormone function (producing estrogen and progesterone).

Ovulation: The release of a mature egg from the surface of the ovary.

Pituitary Gland: A gland located at the base of the brain, below the hypothalamus, which controls almost every endocrine gland in the body and therefore, controls human growth, development and reproduction.

Progesterone: A hormone produced and released by the corpus luteum of the ovary during the second half of an ovulatory cycle. It is necessary for the preparation of the lining of the uterus for the implantation of the fertilized egg.

Semen: The sperm and seminal secretions ejaculated during orgasm by the male.

Sperm (Spermatozoa): Male reproductive cells (gamete).

Trans-Vaginal Aspiration: A method of obtaining eggs by needle aspiration through the vagina.

Tubal Patency: Unobstructed Fallopian tubes.

Uterus: The reproductive organ that houses, protects and nourishes the developing embryo/fetus.

Ultrasound: A technique for visualizing the follicles in the ovaries and the fetus in the uterus, allowing the estimation of size.

Vagina: A tubular passageway in the female connecting the external sex organs with the cervix and uterus.

Zygote: The cell resulting after fertilization of the oocyte by the sperm.