Fertility Glossary

The team at Women’s View, lead by Dr. Richard Buyalos – one of the worlds leading experts on endocrinology, obstetrics, and gynecology – has compiled a comprehensive list of 37 definitions related to common terms associated with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Choose a letter below to take you to the definition you’re looking for. You can also scroll through the list to find the term you are looking for. These definitions are also available in the free Fertility View™ smart phone app.

A • B • CDEF • G • HI • J • K • L • M • N • OP • Q • R • STUV • W • X • Y • Z


Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) – Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is produced by granulose cells in the ovary and has many biological functions. AMH is often a useful marker of a woman’s ovarian reserve.

Antral Follicle Count (AFC) – Antral Follicle Count (AFC) is the number of antral follicles present in the ovaries determined by ultrasound. It is often measured on day 2 or 3 of the menstrual cycle. The AFC is a measure of ovarian reserve.

Antral Follicles – Antral Follicles are ovarian follicles that measure between 2-10 mm at the start of the menstrual cycle. These follicles represent the pool of oocytes that are available for recruitment, growth, and ovulation in a given month.

Assisted Reproductive Technology – Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) although various definitions have been used for ART, it generally includes all fertility treatments in which both eggs and sperm are handled. These procedures involve surgically extracting eggs from a woman’s ovaries and combining them with sperm in the laboratory, then transferring them into a woman’s body. Types of ART include in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).

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Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH) – Laboratory technology for DNA analysis used for the detection of chromosomal abnormalities. This technology is frequently used for preimplantation genetic screening of human embryos in vitro fertilization.

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Dominant Follicle – Dominant Follicle, also known as the lead follicle, is usually identifiable around day 10 of the menstrual cycle and contains the oocyte that will be ovulated during that cycle.

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Egg Donation – Egg Donation is the process by which a woman provides eggs for use by another woman or couple as part of the ART process. This is a highly effective option for building a family for a woman or couple in which the female has diminished ovarian reserve.

Endocrine/Hormone Test – Endocrine/Hormone Test are blood test(s) used to determine if a woman’s ovaries, pituitary gland, thyroid or adrenal glands are producing a sufficient level of hormones to achieve pregnancy.

Endometrial Biopsy – Endometrial Biopsy is an office procedure in which a small sample of tissue is extracted from the lining of the uterus to be tested for possible abnormalities.

Endometrial Stripe (EMS) – The Endometrial Stripe (EMS) is the measurement of the uterine lining, generally determined by transvaginal ultrasound. The EMS varies throughout the menstrual cycle. It is usually 4-5 mm immediately following menstruation and grows to more than 8 mm at the time of implantation.

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Follicle – Follicle is the fluid filled sac in the ovary that contains the oocyte and is lined by granulosa cells. During a menstrual cycle, follicles grow in response to hormones released from the pituitary gland in the brain.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone – Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is a protein released by the pituitary gland which is located at the base of the brain. It stimulates the antral follicles in the ovary to grow and prepares the oocyte for ovulation. When measured on day 2 or 3 of the menstrual cycle, it serves as a marker of ovarian reserve.

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Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer – Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) is the placement of eggs and sperm directly into a woman’s fallopian tube(s) via laparoscopy. Currently GIFT and the related procedure ZIFT account for less than 1% of ART procedures.

Gestational Carriers (Surrogacy) – Most couples that build their families through surrogacy choose gestational surrogacy, also known as a gestational carrier. In gestational surrogacy, the intended mother or an egg donor provides the egg and the intended father or a sperm donor provides the sperm. The resulting embryo(s) is transferred to the gestational carrier, who has no genetic connection to the child. This is unlike traditional surrogacy in which the carrier’s egg is used.

Granulosa Cells – Granulosa Cells line the ovarian follicle and promote growth of the oocyte.

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Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is an x-ray based dye test used to evaluate the shape of the uterine cavity and to determine if the fallopian tubes are open to capture the ovulated oocyte and transport the embryo to the uterus.

Hysteroscopy – Hysteroscopy is the inspection of the uterine cavity by endoscopy through the cervix. It is used to detect possible abnormalities that may be adversely affecting fertility.

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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – In Vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. The process involves monitoring a woman’s ovulatory process, removing ova or ovum (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium in a laboratory. The fertilized egg (embryo) is then transferred into the woman’s uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.

Intracytoplastmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is an In Vitro Fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. The procedure is performed using a specialized microscope. A holding pipette stabilizes the mature oocyte with gentle suction applied by a microinjector. From the opposite side a thin, hollow glass micropipette is used to collect a single sperm, which is then injected into the egg. After the procedure, the oocyte will be placed into cell culture and checked the following day to confirm fertilization.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is the placement of sperm into a woman’s uterus when she is ovulating, usually within 24-36 hours after an LH surge is detected, or after the “trigger” injection of hCG is administered. IUI is often done in conjunction with ovulation-stimulating medications. IUI can be performed using the partner’s sperm or donor sperm. Your health care provider uses a soft catheter that is passed through a speculum directly into the woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. IUI is a relatively quick procedure that takes place in the doctor’s office without anesthesia.

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Laparoscopy – Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a small incision is made through the naval, allowing the passage of a narrow telescope (laparoscope) to diagnose and treat abnormalities of the pelvic and abdominal organs. Laparoscopy is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and is less invasive than abdominal surgery, allowing for a quicker recovery time.

LH Surge – An LH surge is caused by a series of changes involving two hormones—gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). GnRH triggers a dramatic rise, or surge in LH levels immediately prior to ovulation. Gonadotropin Hormone Antagonists work by directly blocking the triggering effect of GnRH. This blocking action prevents the premature LH surge in women undergoing controlled ovarian stimulation and allows eggs to reach the level of development needed for fertilization.

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Oocyte – Oocyte is the medical term for egg.

Ovarian Reserve – Ovarian Reserve is the capacity of the ovary to provide eggs that are capable of fertilization resulting in a healthy and successful pregnancy.

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Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery – Pelvic reconstructive surgery is performed when a woman’s reproductive system has abnormalities that cannot be corrected using a one of the less invasive methods.

Post-Coital Test (PCT) – Post-Coital Test (PCT) is performed close to ovulation after a couple has had sexual intercourse. The PCT examines the interaction between a woman’s cervical mucus and the partner’s sperm.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) – Refers to genetic analysis of embryos prior to implantation. The term PGD usually refers to screening an embryo for the presence of a single gene which causes a specific disease such as Cystic Fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, Hemophilia B, Huntington’s Disease and numerous others which may be inherited from one or both parents.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) – Refers to the genetic pre-screening of embryos. These techniques are primarily used to screen for the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes (aneuploidy) PGS allos for the detection of chromosomal imbalances including Down Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities which will prevent implantation and / or result in miscarriage. PGS will also identify the gender of the embryo.

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Saline Ultrasound – Saline Ultrasound or Sonohysterogram (SHG) is an ultrasound-based test used to evaluate the uterine cavity. During this study, a small volume of saline is instilled into the uterus while an ultrasound is performed. This allows the fertility specialist to determine if fibroids, polyps or adhesions are present in the uterine cavity, potentially disrupting embryo implantation.

Selective Salpinogography – Selective Salpinogography or Tubal (Balloon) Cannulation is performed in conjunction with an HSG. This procedure places a wire or small ballon tipped catheter through the uterine/tubal junction in order to open a blockage of the fallopian tube.

Semen Analysis – Semen Analysis is a microscopic examination of semen to determine the number of sperm, their shapes (morphology) and the ability to move (motility).

Sonohysterogram (SHG) – Sonohysterogram (SHG) or Saline Ultrasound is an ultrasound-based test used to evaluate the uterine cavity. During this study, a small volume of saline is instilled into the uterus while an ultrasound is performed. This allows the fertility specialist to determine if fibroids, polyps or adhesions are present in the uterine cavity, potentially disrupting embryo implantation.

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Tubal (Balloon) Cannulation – Tubal (Balloon) Cannulation or Selective Salpinogography is performed in conjunction with an HSG. This procedure places a wire or small ballon tipped catheter through the uterine/tubal junction in order to open a blockage of the fallopian tube.

Tubal Anastomosis – Tubal Anastomosis is a microsurgical procedure used to reverse a tubal ligation.


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Ultrasound – Ultrasound is an instrument that uses sound waves to generate images of structures inside the body. In fertility treatments, transvaginal and abdominal ultrasounds are used to visualize the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.


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Vaginal or Cervical Cultures – Vaginal or Cervical Cultures are tested to detect viruses or bacteria that may be interfering with pregnancy.

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Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) – Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) is the placement of a embryo (a fertilized egg) or embryos directly into a woman’s fallopian tube(s) via laparoscopy. Currently ZIFT and the related procedure GIFT account for less than 1% of ART procedures.

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