As you navigate your way through the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process, you may find that there are many new terms that you are not familiar with. We hope the partial dictionary provided below will offer some insight on these terms and what they mean. If you ever have any questions about a term or step within this process that you would like further clarification on, please do not hesitate to let us know.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART):
Treatment and procedures involving the handling of human oocytes, sperm or embryos, with the intent of establishing a pregnancy. This includes IVF +/- ICSI and excludes artificial insemination and ovulation induction.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM):
A professional medical society whose members are interested in reproductive medicine.
Assisted Hatching (AH):
The early embryo has a protein shell surrounding it called the zona pellucida. The embryo must break out of this shell (hatch) before attaching itself to the uterine wall. Assisted hatching involves creating a gap in this outer shell (either chemically or mechanically) to potentially aid in attachment.
A blastocyst is an embryo that has developed to the point of having two different cell components and a fluid cavity. The embryo usually reaches this stage five days after fertilization.
Congenital Bilateral Absence of the Vas Deferens (CBAVD):
The vas deferens is the tube which transports the sperm from the testicle during ejaculation. Occasionally, this is absent. This can be found in patients who carry the gene for cystic fibrosis.
Thin tube of varying lengths and sizes, which is used to insert embryos or sperm into the uterine cavity.
Canal which runs through the center of the cervix connecting the vaginal vault on one side to the uterine cavity on the other side.
The freezing of viable sperm, eggs, or embryos that may be used in subsequent fertility treatment.
Process of inserting a needle into ovarian follicles to withdraw eggs.
Placement of the embryo into the uterine cavity.
One of the hormones responsible for the development and thickening of the endometrial lining within the uterus.
A form of estrogen that can be measured in blood. The level rises with normal oocyte growth.
A tube through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus. Normal anatomy includes a left and right fallopian tube.
Frozen embryo transfer (FET):
Embryos cryopreserved from a fresh IVF cycle are thawed and then transferred into the uterus.
A fluid filled sac located just below the surface of the ovary. Attached to the inner wall is the egg. As the egg becomes more mature, the size and volume of the follicle increases.
The phase during which follicles grow and the lining of the uterus thickens — typically cycle days 1-14 of a normal menstrual cycle.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH):
A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates the growth and maturation of follicles within the ovary. This can also be manufactured in a laboratory and given as a medication.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH):
The natural hormone secreted by the hypothalamus that prompts the pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In turn, these hormones stimulate the ovaries to develop and release eggs.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG):
A hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. This can also be manufactured in a laboratory and given as a medication.
An X-ray of the female reproductive organs used to visualize the inner contour of the uterine cavity and determine the patency of the fallopian tubes. The X-ray is obtained after a radiopaque liquid is injected into the uterine cavity.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI):
A fertilization technique in which a single sperm is drawn up into a specially designed pipette and is inserted into the center of a mature egg (the cytoplasm).
Intrauterine insemination (IUI):
In an attempt to achieve pregnancy, a prepared semen specimen is placed within the uterine cavity at the time of ovulation.
In vitro fertilization (IVF):
A process by which the oocyte and sperm are combined in a culture dish in the laboratory. Fertilization and early embryonic development occur outside of the body.
Luteinizing hormone (LH):
A hormone secreted by the pituitary that can trigger ovulation to occur. This can also be manufactured in a laboratory and given as a medication.
The phase of the menstrual cycle that follows the follicular phase, during which the endometrium is accepting of a fertilized egg (embryo).
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS):
OHSS is a medical complication that may occur after gonadotropin use. In its severest form, OHSS is characterized by ovarian enlargement and a collection of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), chest cavity (pleural effusion), or around the heart (pericardial effusion). It affects blood electrolyte levels, liver, and kidney function and puts the patient at greater risk for blood clots. Patients may experience abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, weight gain, decreased urine production, shortness of breath, or pelvic pain. If you experience these symptoms or have any concerns, contact your physician immediately. Complications of OHSS can be FATAL.
The release of mature egg(s) ready for fertilization.
A transparent glass or plastic tube used in measuring or transferring small amounts of liquid.
A female hormone produced by the corpus luteum after ovulation and/or by the placenta during pregnancy. It prepares the lining of the endometrium for potential implantation of an embryo.
Reproductive endocrinologist (RE):
A medical specialist who has completed four years of college followed by four years of medical school. The physician then completes a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a subsequent two to three year fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.
A microscopic analysis of semen to determine volume, quantity, movement (motility), shape (morphology) and a number of other factors.
An ultrasound that is used to visualize the inner contour of the uterine cavity. The ultrasound is performed after saline is injected into the uterus through a catheter placed in the cervical canal.
A picture of internal organs produced by high frequency sound waves. These images can be viewed on a computer screen or printed on paper.
The process of rapidly cryopreserving (freezing) an oocyte or embryo.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT):
A woman’s eggs are retrieved and fertilized in the laboratory. A laparoscopic procedure is then utilized to transfer the fertilized eggs (zygotes) into her fallopian tubes.
Alternative treatments including other assisted reproductive procedures such as Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) and donor egg/embryo, ovulation stimulation with/without intrauterine insemination (IUI), donor sperm insemination, no treatment, and adoption should be taken into consideration.
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