Abortion Spontaneous

A pregnancy loss during the first twenty weeks of gestation

Abortion threatened

Spotting or bleeding that occurs early in the pregnancy. May progress to spontaneous abortion.


Organelle/ vesicle that contains Enzymes in the head of the sperm that allow the sperm to penetrate through the zona pellucida of the egg and undertake fertilisation of the egg.

Acrosome reaction

The chemical change within the spermatozoa following binding to the zona pellucida, that leads to the release of acrosomal enzymatic contents. These enzymes degrade the zona pellucida and allow a spermatozoa to penetrate an oocyte


Scar tissue occurring in the abdominal cavity, fallopian tubes or inside the uterus. Adhesions can interfere with transport of the egg and implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

Adrenal Gland

A small gland above each kidney that secretes hormones that affect reproduction.


Compound that has stimulating properties (a GnRH agonist first stimulates before it suppresses the reproductive system


Assisted hatching


The cessation of the menstrual periods for six months or more at a time.


Prenatal test. Withdrawal of a sample of fluid contained in the pregnancy sac for genetic testing


Compound that is similar to another chemically


Specialist in male reproductive function


The study of fertility treatment in men


The failure to ovulate, ovulatory failure.


Compound that suppresses the reproductive system


Proteins made by the body’s immune system to fight and destroy foreign substances and prevent infection. Some antibodies may attack sperm, causing infertility.

Antiphospholipid antibodies

Antibodies to cell components which can inhibit placental development or cause clotting in the blood vessels supplying the implanting embryo/fetus

Antisperm Antibodies

Antibodies are produced by the immune system to fight off foreign substances, like bacteria. Antisperm antibodies attach themselves to sperm and inhibit movement and their ability to fertilise.


Assisted reproductive technology 


The absence of semen and sperm in an ejaculate. This differs from azoospermia which is the absence of sperm in semen.

Assisted Hatching

“Assisted hatching” (AH) is an IVF technique that involves creating a small opening in the zona pellucida surrounding the fertilised egg. Assisted hatching is performed to weaken the wall of the embryo and thus improve the likelihood of successful hatching and embryo implantation.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Several procedures employed to bring about conception without sexual intercourse, including IVF and ICSI


Low percentage of progressively motile spermatozoa


Semen containing no sperm, either because the testicles cannot make sperm or because of blockage in the reproductive tract.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Your body temperature when taken at its lowest point, usually in the morning before getting out of bed. Charting BBT is used to predict ovulation.


Basal body temperature

Beta HCG Test

A blood test used to detect very early pregnancies and to evaluate embryonic development.

Biochemical pregnancy 

A positive blood test for HCG but without ultrasound evidence of pregnancy


Embryo stage following development of a fluid-filled cavity within the embryo; during this stage cells become specialised to form placental cells (trophectoderm) and the embryo itself (inner cell mass)

Blastocyst Transfer 

A blastocyst is an embryo at an advanced stage of physiologic development when there are two cell types present: one group of cells that form the placenta, and another group of cells that form the fetus. Blastocyst transfer : see embryo transfer. Blast is replaced on Day 5 of development into the uterus


The changes that a sperm goes through to be capable of penetrating the zona pellucida layers covering the egg.

Cervical Mucus

A viscous fluid plugging the opening of the cervix. Most of the time this thick mucus plug prevents sperm and bacteria from entering the womb. However, at midcycle, under the influence of estrogen, the mucus becomes thin, watery and stringy to allow sperm to pass into the womb.


The opening between the uterus and vagina. The Cervical Mucus plugs the cervical canal and normally prevents foreign materials from entering the reproductive tract. The cervix remains closed during pregnancy and dilates during labour and delivery to allow the baby to be born.


An organism, generally sexually transmitted, that can cause tubal damage


A chromosome is a long, stringy collection of genes that carries heredity information in a cell

Cleaved Embryo

A fertilised egg, which has undergone cell division.

Clinical pregnancy 

Evidence of pregnancy by ultrasound, passage of pregnancy tissue in a miscarriage, or delivery of a fetus or baby

Clomid / Fertomed (brand name we use)

Brand name of clomiphene citrate – an oral medication that stimulates ovulation

Clomid or Clomiphene

A fertility drug used to induce ovulation. It stimulates the pituitary gland to release follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which causes follicles containing eggs to be developed and released. It may be used in the preparation of the female partner for ovum production IUI/mini-ivf


Staining procedure done on as part of semen analysis  to test sperm DNA compaction and maturity. Significantly increased immature DNA packaging; resulting in incomplete decondensation of the DNA in the sperm head and poor quality embryos.            


Stopping the gonadotropins and continuing the Lupron in an ART patient in danger of hyperstimulation so the estrogen level may be allowed to fall into the acceptable range.


The developing zygote, pre-embryo, or embryo resulting from the joining of the sperm and egg at any stage of development from fertilisation until birth, including extraembryonic membranes as well as the embryo or fetus. 

Corpus Luteum

The yellow-pigmented glandular structure that forms from the ovarian follicle following ovulation. The gland produces progesterone, which is responsible for preparing and supporting the uterine lining for implantation. Progesterone also causes the half-degree basal temperature elevation noted at midcycle during an ovulatory cycle. If the corpus luteum functions poorly, the uterine lining may not support a pregnancy. If the egg is fertilised, a corpus luteum of pregnancy forms to maintain the endometrial bed and support the implanted embryo. A deficiency in the amount of progesterone produced (or length of time it is produced) by the corpus luteum can mean that the endometrium is unable to sustain a pregnancy. This is called a Luteal Phase Defect (LPD).


The freezing and storage of living cells at minus 196 ͦ  C.. Allow survival and growth of cells after thawing.

Culture Media

A specially formulated solution used in the laboratory to promote growth and division of a fertilised egg until the embryo transfer takes place.

Culture Medium

The fluid in which eggs and embryos are grown in the laboratory.


The expanded clear mucus-like tissue/cells surrounding the egg


A fluid-filled structure that can be seen in the ovary. It can be of a large range of sises and there can be more than one.


The jelly-like substance that surrounds the nucleus of a cell.

Donor Insemination

Artificial insemination with a donor’s sperm.

Donor Treatment

A treatment where either eggs, sperm or embryos are donated.


Painful menstruation. This may be a sign of endometriosis.


Painful intercourse for either the man or the woman.

Ectopic Pregnancy

A pregnancy that develops outside a woman’s womb; typically in the fallopian tubes.

Egg Donation

In egg donation IVF, the donor of eggs may be anonymous, or the egg donor may be a sister, close friend or relative of the infertile woman. The egg donor is given fertility medications to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Hormone replacement is used to synchronise the recipient to the egg donor cycle.

Egg Freezing

Oocyte cryopreservation or “egg freezing” is an up and coming technology, which is starting to be offered by IVF clinics worldwide. The concept of freezing eggs has been around for decades with little success until recently.

Egg retrieval 

Aspiration of eggs from the ovary


The semen and sperm-containing fluid produced on ejaculation.


A procedure using electrical stimulation to induce ejaculation in a man with damage to the nerves that control ejaculation. Commonly used in men with spinal cord injury in order to obtain sperm to use for artificial insemination.


When the woman’s egg is fertilised by the man’s sperm an embryo is formed. The embryo develops into the fetus.

Embryo Transfer

The transfer of embryo(s) into the uterus.


A specialist in embryo development.


The study of hormones.

Endometrial biopsy

A test to check for a Luteal Phase Defect. A procedure during which a sample of the uterine lining is collected for a microscopic analysis. The biopsy results will confirm ovulation and the proper preparation of the endometrium by estrogen and progesterone stimulation.


A cyst within the ovary caused by endometriosis and containing a dark-brown chocolatelike fluid


A condition where endometrial tissue is located outside the womb. The tissue may attach itself to the reproductive organs or to other organs in the abdominal cavity. Each month the endometrial tissue bleeds with the onset of menstruation. The resultant irritation causes adhesions in the abdominal cavity and in the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis may also interfere with ovulation and with the implantation of the embryo.


The lining of the uterus, which grows and sheds in response to estrogen and progesterone stimulation, the bed of tissue designed to nourish the implanted embryo.


The organ that stores sperm as they develop and pass from the testicles to the vas deferens.

ER (embryo replacement) 

Placement of an embryo into the reproductive tract


The female hormone produced in the ovary. Responsible for formation of the female secondary sex characteristics such as growth of the breasts, supports the growth of the follicle and the development of the uterine lining.


Female sex hormones of which estradiol is an example.

ET (embryo transfer) 

Embryo replacement into the uterus or fallopian tube ( TET tubal embryo transfer)

Fallopian Tubes

Ducts through which eggs travel to the uterus once released from the follicle. Sperm normally meets the egg in the fallopian tubes, the site at which fertilisation usually occurs.

Fertility treatment

Any method or procedure used to enhance fertility or increase the likelihood of pregnancy, such as ovulation induction treatment and microsurgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes.

Fertility Workup

The initial medical examinations and tests performed to diagnose or narrow down the cause of fertility problems.


The process that results when an egg and sperm combine to create a zygote (which later divides to become an embryo). With natural conception, fertilisation occurs in the fallopian tubes. With in vitro fertilisation, it occurs in a laboratory dish. With intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) it occurs after the injection of the sperm into the egg.


The developing baby from the second month of pregnancy until birth.


A benign muscle growth in the wall of the womb.


Delicate fingerlike tissue at the end of the fallopian tube that picks up the egg from the ovary


Fluorescence in situ hybridization. FISH uses fluorescent probes that bind to  parts of the chromosome making them visible under fluorescent light. This technique is used for genetic tests on sperm aswell as  PGS/PGT on embryos.


Each month an egg develops inside the ovary in a fluid filled pocket called a follicle. This follicle grows to about 2 cm before it is ready to ovulate.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

Gonadotropic hormone released from the pituitary gland and functioning to stimulate ovarian follicular growth and development. The same hormone plays an essential role in male sperm production.

Follicular Phase

The pre-ovulatory portion of a woman’s cycle during which a follicle grows and high levels of estrogen cause the lining of the uterus to proliferate. This normally takes between 12 and 14 days.


Follicle stimulation hormone – a hormone produced in the body by the pituitary gland that stimulates the growth of egg follicles.


Milklike discharge from the breasts


Reproductive cell; sperm in the male, ova in the female

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

A technique that may be used for women who have normal fallopian tubes. After the eggs are aspirated from the ovaries and mixed with the husband’s sperm they are injected through the fimbria into the woman’s fallopian tubes for in vivo fertilisation. This procedure is done at the time of a laparoscopy. Disadvantage that fertilisation and embryo development were not confirmed – not done much these days.


Male and female sex cells (sperm and eggs, respectively).

Gestational Sac

The fluid-filled sac in which the fetus develops. In early pregnancy ultrasound, this is seen first.


Gonadotropin releasing hormone

GnRH agonist 

GnRH analogue with stimulating property

GnRH analogue 

Compound that is almost identical chemically with GnRH

GnRH antagonist 

Compound that suppresses the reproductive system

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

A hormone that signals the pituitary gland to release the gonadtropins LH and FSH.


Male (testes) and female (ovaries) organs which produce sex cells.


Hyaluronan Binding assay. Sperm with normal maturity and physiological function has a HBA score of ≥ 80% binding .


Human chorionic gonadotrophin is a hormone produced in pregnancy that helps to maintain high progesterone output, thus helping the uterus accept the embryo. During IVF treatment, HCG is injected (ovulation trigger  injection) to mature the egg follicles and help prepare the uterus for embryo replacement. In an early pregnancy test it is levels of HCG that are detected in the blood in a positive test.

HMG (Human Menopausal Gonadotrophin)

This is the general name for the drug used in IVF treatment to stimulate the growth of egg follicles. There are many different trade names (eg Puregon, Menopur, Gonal-F). They contain FSH alone or FSH and LH (luteinising hormone).


A natural protein produced in one body tissue and carried via the bloodstream to initiate a response in another tissue.

Hostile mucus

Cervical Mucus that prevents the natural progress of sperm through the cervical canal.



Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) 

Hormone produced by the conceptus and later the placenta that can be measured to diagnose pregnancy.  Hormone used to mature eggs/ ovum pick up or aspiration is usually done 36 hours after trigger injection.

Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (HMG)

Gonadotropin (FSH and LH) preparations obtained from urine of post-menopausal women and commonly used in the treatment of infertility.


Dilated fluid-filled, obstructed fallopian tube


A major control center within the brain. Among many functions, it regulates the secretion of gonadotropins (FSH and LH) by the pituitary.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

An X-ray using dye to view the shape of the uterus and the fallopian tubes. If the dye passes freely from the uterus through the fallopian tubes, the fallopian tubes are considered open.


A procedure in which the doctor checks for uterine abnormalities by inserting a fibreoptic device through the cervix during a light anaesthesia. Surgical procedures can be executed during a hysteroscopy.


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a laboratory procedure developed to help infertile couples undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) due to severe male factor infertility. ICSI involves the insertion of a single sperm directly into the cytoplasm of a mature egg (oocyte) using a microinjection pipette (glass needle).


The embedding of the embryo in the lining of the womb.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

 Literally means “in glass”. Fertilisation takes place outside the body in a small test tube.


The inability of a couple to achieve pregnancy through frequent natural intercourse after 6-12 months of trying. It can also be applied to the inability of the woman to carry a pregnancy to term.


A molecule in the endometrium which is a marker for uterine receptivity

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) 

A variation of IVF in which fertilisation is achieved by direct injection of a single sperm into the egg, utilised in couples when the male partner has a problem with his sperm

Intrauterine device (IUD) 

Device worn inside the uterine cavity to prevent pregnancy

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) 

Placement of sperm, usually washed, into the uterine cavity

Intravenous immunoglobulin 

A preparation of immunoglobulin (antibodies) which is given intravenously and acts to suppress a hyperactive immune system


A Latin word, meaning “in glass”, referring to the ‘test tube’ in which fertility treatments originally took place.


Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility procedure in which sperm are washed, concentrated, and injected directly into a woman’s uterus. In natural intercourse, only a fraction of the sperm makes it up the woman’s genital tract. IUI increases the number of sperm in the fallopian tubes, where fertilisation takes place.


ART is a term used to describe advanced infertility therapies, most commonly IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) and GIFT (Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer), but it also includes other techniques such as ZIFT (Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer) and FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer).


In vitro fertilisation/embryo replacement


In vitro fertilisation/embryo transfer


Intravenous immunoglobulin


Examination of the pelvic region by using a small telescope called a laparoscope. The laparoscope is inserted through a 1 cm incision in the belly button during a light general anaesthetic.


Luteinising hormone, a hormone produced naturally in the body by the pituitary gland that controls ovulation. The ‘LH surge’ indicates that ovulation will occur in about 36 hours. The LH surge is stimulated by the increase in oestrogen in the blood created by the growing egg follicle.


Luteal-phase defect / see luteal-phase


Luteinised unruptured follicle

Lupron (leuprolide) 

Medication similar to GnRH, used to suppress the pituitary and, in turn, the ovaries

Luteal Phase

Post-ovulatory phase of a woman’s cycle. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which causes the uterine lining to thicken to support the implantation and growth of the embryo.

luteinised unruptured follicle (LUF) 

Failure of the follicle to rupture and release the egg

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

A Pituitary hormone that stimulates the ovaries. The LH is necessary for release of the egg from a follicle.

Luteinizing Hormone Surge (LH Surge)

The release of luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes the release of a mature egg from the follicle. Ovulation test kits detect the sudden increase of LH, signalling that ovulation is about to occur (usually within 24-36 hours).


Luveris in association with a Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) preparation is recommended for the stimulation of follicular development

Male factor 

A term for infertility originating in the male partner

Male Infertility

The old saying that “it takes two to Tango” is especially true for couples trying to conceive. The importance of a complete and thorough evaluation of both partners in the relationship cannot be overestimated. After a complete diagnostic evaluation of both partners, the incidence of male factors accounts for 30-50% of the problems identified.

Maturation Arrest

A condition in which sperm production stops before mature sperm are developed.


The cessation of a woman’s reproductive ability, the opposite of menarche. Menopause is usually a natural change; it typically occurs in women in midlife, during their late 40s or early 50s, signalling the end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life.


Stimulation drugs containing FSH and LH. (Stimulate the growth of egg follicles).


Heavy or prolonged menstrual flow.


The cyclical shedding of the uterine lining in response to stimulation from estrogen and progesterone.


Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration


Menstrual spotting during the middle of the cycle.

Microarray -CGH

Comparative genomic hybridization is a genetic test able to detect unbalanced chromosomal abnormalities.CGH does, however, allow for the exploration of all 46 human chromosomes in single test and the discovery of deletions and duplications

Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA) 

an advanced technique for aspirating sperm from the ductal system to use in ICSI


Spontaneous loss of an embryo or foetus from the womb.


The discomfort felt on the side of the lower abdomen at the time of ovulation.

Monthly conception rate 

The chance of a couple conceiving within the woman’s one-month cycle


Categorisation of sperm by their shape

Morula embryo 

Stage wherein numerous cells are packed together inside the zona but before the blastocyst cavity has formed


The percentage of sperm moving in a sample of semen

Multiple Gestation

Multiple gestation refers to a pregnancy in which two or more fetuses are present in the womb.


An organism that can colonise the reproductive tract and may cause miscarriage


Low sperm count with a high percentage of slow moving and abnormal sperm.


Infrequent menstrual periods.


Abnormally low numbers of sperm in the ejaculate of the male.


A sperm count below 10 million per millilitre. A sperm count low enough to cause a fertility problem.


The female sex cell (eggs) ovulated at the end of each reproductive cycle.

Ovarian Cyst

A fluid-filled sac inside the ovary. An ovarian cyst may be found in conjunction with ovulation disorders, tumours of the ovary and endometriosis.

Ovarian failure

The failure of the ovary to respond to FSH stimulation from the pituitary due to the absence of oocytes in the ovary. Diagnosed by raised FSH in the blood.

Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

A potentially serious complication when fertility drugs are used and too many follicles develop in the ovaries. The symptoms include lower abdominal pain, swelling of the abdomen, nausea, vomiting and sometimes shortness of breath. Treatment involves bed rest with increased fluid intake and in rare cases hospitalisation and intravenous fluids.


The female gonad containing the eggs (one egg per ovarian follicle). This structure also provides the chief source of estrogens and progesterone.


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

Ovulation induction

Medical treatment performed to initiate ovulation.


The egg; the reproductive cell from the ovary; the female gamete; the sex cell that contains the woman’s genetic information.


Polycystic ovarian disease. See polycystic ovaries


Post coital test. A Post-coital test checks a woman’s cervical mucus after sex to see whether sperm are present and moving normally.

Pelvic adhesions 

Scar-tissue capable of covering or holding together organs; most commonly affect fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bowel

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) 

A general term for pelvic infections resulting from sexually transmitted diseases.


Synonym for laparoscopy, although often used to indicate operative laparoscopy


The male organ of sexual intercourse.

percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA) 

An advanced technique for aspirating sperm from the ductal system to use in ICSI using a needle


Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration


Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm (PICSI) is a scientific technique used in Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). Mature and structurally sound sperm will bind to hyaluronan. Selecting a bound sperm ensures that the sperm selected is the optimal sperm for injection.


Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is a technique that can be used during in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures to test embryos for genetic disorders prior to their transfer to the uterus. PGD makes it possible for couples with serious inherited disorders to decrease the risk of having a child who is affected by the same problem.

PGS (Screening) or PGT (testing)

PGS generally refers to the screening of chromosomes for aneuploidy (an abnormal number of chromosomes). Screening test for the most common abnormalities like Downs syndrome

PGD is generally the diagnosis of a single gene defect in the embryo for couples that have a single gene mutation and want to ensure that their offspring won’t carry the disease

Microarray -CGH

Comparative genomic hybridization is a genetic test able to detect unbalanced chromosomal abnormalities.CGH does, however, allow for the exploration of all 46 human chromosomes in single test and the discovery of deletions and duplications


Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pituitary gland

A hormone-producing gland lying under the base of the brain that controls the function of the adrenals, thyroid, ovaries, and testicles

Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD /PCOS) 

Condition characterised by hormonal imbalance and lack of ovulation. PCOS polycystic ovarian syndrome – ovaries often enlarged and containing numerous small cysts located along the outer edge of each ovary (polycystic appearance)

Polycystic Ovaries

A condition found in women who do not ovulate, characterised by excessive production of male sex hormones and the presence of cysts in the ovaries. Polycystic ovaries can be without symptoms; some include excessive weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth and amenorrhoea.


A benign growth of the lining of the womb (endometrium). If large, could potentially affect the chances of implantation of the embryo.


fertilisation of the egg by more than one sperm

Post Coital Test

A microscopic examination of the cervical mucus best performed between 2 and 6 hours after intercourse to determine compatibility between the woman’s mucus and the man’s semen , a test used to detect sperm-mucus interaction problems, the presence of sperm antibodies, and the quality of the cervical mucus.

Premature ovarian failure 

Cessation of normal ovarian function before the usual age of menopause, generally before forty


The hormone produced by the corpus luteum during the second half of a woman’s cycle. It thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare it to accept implantation of a fertilised egg.


The hormone that stimulates the production of milk in breastfeeding women. Excessive prolactin levels when not breastfeeding may result in infertility.


The male and female nuclei that are visible 14-18 hours after combining sperm with an egg. The presence of two pronuclei in the egg are checked in the lab – these are the signs that fertilisation has occurred.


A group of hormone-like chemicals that have various effects on reproductive organs.

Retrograde ejaculation 

Passage of semen back into the bladder during ejaculation

Retrograde menstrual flow 

Flow of menses back through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity


Surgical removal of the fallopian tube.


Inflammation (infection) of the fallopian tubes


Opening into the fallopian tube


The sac containing the testicles, epididymis, and vas deferens.

Secondary Infertility

A couple who has one biological child but is unable to conceive another.

Selective termination (reduction) 

A procedure that aborts one or more fetuses of a multiple pregnancy, usually quadruplets or more semen the combination of sperm and glandular fluid released from the penis when a man reaches sexual climax

Semen Analysis

A laboratory test used to assess semen quality: sperm quantity, concentration, morphology (form), and motility (movement). In addition, it measures semen (fluid) volume and whether or not white blood cells are presenting, indicating an infection.

Semen Viscosity

The liquid flow or consistency of the semen.


Semen consists of sperm and seminal plasma. The semen plasma provides nourishment and protection for the sperm and a medium in which sperm can travel to the woman’s vagina.

Seminal vesicles 

Glands that add fluid to the semen to assist sperm deposition

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) 

Diseases caused by organisms that are transmitted by sexual contact and activity


Sperm penetration assay. Designed to evaluate sperm’s ability to swim through cervical mucus as well as penetrate an egg.


The male reproductive cells that carry genetic information to the female’s egg.

Sperm Antibodies

Antibodies that attack the sperm. May be formed by either the man against his own sperm or by the woman against her husband’s sperm.

Sperm Bank

A place where sperm are kept frozen in liquid nitrogen for later use in artificial insemination.

Sperm Morphology

A semen analysis factor that indicates the number or percentage of sperm in the sample that appear to have been formed normally. Abnormal morphology includes sperm with kinked, doubled, or coiled tails.

Sperm Motility

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

Sperm Retrieval

Men with no sperm at all in their ejaculate can now have their own child, because sperm can be retrieved from their testicle or epididymis and injected into their partner’s eggs via intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The highest pregnancy rates with this approach and the least pain and discomfort to the male require that these sperm retrieval procedures be performed microsurgically.

Sperm Wash

A technique that separates the sperm from the seminal fluid. It allows the isolation of the “best” sperm to be used for intrauterine insemination.


The process of sperm production (within the testis).


An agent that kills sperm. Some condoms come with spermicide in their lubricant.


Sexually transmitted disease


Synonym for infertility implying that the ability to conceive is less than normal


The release of several eggs from the ovary as a result of fertility treatment.


Once the surrogate has been selected and surrogacy screening has been completed, the cycles of the surrogate and surrogate mother will be synchronised. The surrogate mother undergoes the treatment for a routine IVF cycle while the surrogate’s uterus is being prepared to receive the embryos.


High levels of abnormal sperm.


Testicular sperm extraction.  An advanced technique for obtaining sperm for use in ICSI utilising testicular biopsy


The male gonad, functioning to produce mature sperm as well as the hormone testosterone.


Male sex organ that produces sperm and hormones

Testicular Failure

A condition in which the testes do not produce sperm or testosterone. This condition may have existed at birth or develop later in life or be caused by trauma or damage to the testicles. It may lead to male infertility.


The male hormone needed for the production of sperm.


A test used instead of X-rays to visualise the reproductive organs; for example, to monitor follicular development and to examine the tubes and uterus. The instrument works by bouncing sound waves off the organs. A picture displayed on a TV screen shows the internal organs.

Unexplained Infertility

Infertility where all test results are found to be normal.


Type of mycoplasma implicated in male infertility and miscarriage


The urinating channel leading from the bladder to the outside through the penis


A specialist dealing with urological and male reproduction disorders.


The womb – the part of a woan’s reproductive system in which the embryo grows.


A tubular structure leading from the vulva to the cervix


Yeast, bacterial infection or trichomonas infections of the vagina. Frequent vaginitis may be associated with the presence of pelvic adhesions and tubal blockage from other infections, such as chlamydia. Vaginitis may interfere with sperm penetration of the cervical mucus, and the symptoms may interfere with the ability and desire to have intercourse.


A common condition in which the veins that carry blood out of the scrotum become dilated. When blood pools in these veins, the temperature in the scrotum increases. This may be a cause of male infertility.


Operation for repair of varicocele vas deferens muscular tube that carries sperm from the epididymis to the urethra

Vas deferens

The tube connecting the testis (via the epididymis) to the urethra.

Vas Deferens

The tube that carries sperm from the testicles (epididymis) to the penis.


Surgical sterilisation of a man by cutting, burning or crushing their vas deferens.

Vasectomy Reversal

Surgical repair of a previous vasectomy for a man who wants to regain his fertility.


operation for reversal of male sterilisation (vasectomy)

Veneral Disease

Any infection that can be sexually transmitted, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, ureaplasma and syphilis. Many of these diseases will interfere with fertility and some will cause severe illness.


The thickness of the semen, evaluated after a period of time following ejaculation


Zygote intrafallopian transfer

Zona drilling 

The making of a hole in the shell (zona) that surrounds the egg

Zona pellucida

The shell that surrounds the egg and protects it during early embryo development. Consists of four types of zona pellucida glycoproteins  which have different roles in fertilisation and binding of sperm.


A fertilised egg which has not yet divided.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) 

Transfer of fertilised egg(s) to the fallopian tube 


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