Glossary

Glossary

Ampoules
The small glass vials in which many fertility drugs are provided.

Antibodies
Part of the body’s natural defence against infection, these can cause problems in males and females if developed against sperm. More information

Anaemia
A blood disorder, usually caused by a lack of iron in the diet or excessive prolonged blood loss.

Asthenozoospermia
A problem with sperm movement which can be mild or severe.

Azoospermia
The complete absence of sperm from a sample. This can be caused by either a blockage in the tubes from the testes or hormonal imbalance. More information

Bulbourethral (Cowper’s) glands
Two glands which contribute excretions to the seminal fluid as ejaculation takes place.

Cervix
The narrow passage at the lower end of the uterus (womb), which connects with the vagina. More information

Chlamydia
A sexually transmitted disease which can damage female and male reproductive systems and cause infertility. In many cases it can remain undetected for long periods of time. More information

Clomiphene
A fertility drug which is commonly used as the first line treatment, it stimulates the production of one or more follicles and therefore increases the chances of pregnancy.

Congenital malformations
Any malformation which is noticed at birth, whether caused by a genetic (inherited) or environmental problem.

Corpus luteum
The glandular tissue which forms from the remnants of a ruptured follicle in the ovary following ovulation.

Cyclogest
A drug which can be taken rectally or vaginally to support the hormone levels of patients undergoing fertility treatment following insemination

Diathermy (ovarian)
A treatment for polycystic ovaries where a heated probe is used to make holes in the ovary itself.

DNA (DeoxyRibonucleicAcid)
The basic instructions which every creature carries in its cells, DNA controls all chemical processes in the body.

Donor Insemination
Insemination using the IUI technique but with sperm contributed by an unnamed donor. More inforamtion

Endometriosis
A condition caused by the growth of endometrial tissue (lining of the womb) in areas of the abdomen where it should not appear. More information

Endometrium
The lining of the womb which grows and sheds during a normal menstrual cycle and which supports a fetus if a pregnancy occurs.

Epididymis
A highly convoluted tube, about seven metres long, that connects the testes to the vas deferens. The sperm are moved along the tube and are stored in the lower part until ejaculation.

Fallopian tubes
The pair of tubes which lead from the ovaries to the uterus (womb). Were fertilisation occurs.

Fertilisation
The penetration of an egg by a sperm and the formation of a viable embryo. More information

Fibroid
A ball of fibrous muscular tissue which may grow in the muscular wall of the uterus. Fibroids often cause pain and excessive menstrual bleeding.

FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
Hormone produced by the pituitary gland which stimulates the production of follicles by the ovary. Used in assisted conception to stimulate the production of more than one follicle (ovulation induction). More information

GnRH (Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone)
Hormone released by the hypothalamus which stimulates the pituitary to produce LH and FSH. More information

Gestone
A drug taken by injection following fertility treatment to support hormone levels following treatment.

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG)
Often referred to as the ‘booster’ injection. This drug is administered when sufficient follicles have been produced. It mimics the action of Luteinising Hormone by maturing the follicles. Ovulation will occur approximately 40 hours after HCG administration.

Hypospadias
Hypospadias is an abnormality of the urethra and penis that is present at birth. It can range in severity from mild to severe. Surgical correction is often sucessful.

Hypothalamus
Area of the brain which releases GnRH (Gonadotrophin Releasing Hormone) and stimulates the pituitary to produce FSH and LH. More information

Hysterosalpingogram
An X-ray of the fallopian tubes which involves the passage of dye through the tubes to see if they are obstructed.

ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection)
An assisted reproductive technique which involves the injection of a single sperm into each egg. Particularly useful in cases of sperm dysfunction. More information

Implantation
The process whereby an embryo, after travelling through the fallopian tube to the uterus, embeds itself in the lining of the uterus and begins to obtain nutrients from the mother.

Impotence
Term used to describe the inability of a man to perform sexual intercourse or gain an erection.

Insemination
The placing of sperm in the female reproductive tract by artificial means (see IUI).

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)
The technique of placing sperm in the uterus of a woman and by-passing the cervix using a fine catheter. More information

In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Technique whereby eggs are collected from the female and fertilised with the male’s sperm outside the woman’sbody. More information

Luteinising Hormone (LH)
Hormone released by the pituitary gland in response to GnRH production. Essential for development of eggs and sperm. More information

Menopur
A commonly used fertility drug which is highly purified FSH. Used to stimulate the production of more than one follicle in IUI, DI, IVF and ICSI. Taken as an injection.

Menstrual Period/ Menstruation
The monthly bleed which takes place if no pregnancy occurs and is caused by the sloughing off of the lining of the womb which develops anew every month.

MESA- Micro Epididymal Sperm Aspiration
This technique involves the use of a small needle to extract relatively mature sperm from the epididymis.

Metrodin
A commonly used fertility drug which is highly purified FSH. Used to stimulate the production of more than one follicle in IUI, DI, IVF and ICSI. Taken as an injection.

Nafarelin
A commonly used fertility drug which is used to stop the production of GnRH and therefore all sex hormones. Reduces hormone levels to almost zero so that the cycle can be controlled more easily. Taken in the form of a nasal spray.

Oestrogen/ Oestradiol
Female sex hormone produced by the ovary. Levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. Measured through blood tests as an indication of the level of stimulation.

Oligozoospermia
Low sperm count (less than twenty million sperm per milliltre).

PESA- Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration
A sperm recovery technique whereby a fine needle is passed through the skin of the scrotum and into the epididymal region of the testes. Sperm are withdrawn using gentle suction.

Pituitary
Gland in the brain which produces many hormones including FSH and LH which are produced in response to GnRH from the Hypothalamus.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Condition where many small cysts form on the ovary and hormonal imbalances result. Can cause infertility. Treatment can be in the form of drugs or surgery.

Progesterone
Hormone produced by the ovary and by the corpus luteum after ovulation. This encourages the growth of the lining of the womb.

Profasi
Drug used in assisted conception to mature follicles and cause ovulation to occur. It consists of purified Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin. Taken as a single injection also known as a ‘booster’.

Prostate Gland
A gland which secretes an alkali solution upon ejaculation. This solution becomes a major part of the ejaculate. More information

Puregon
A common fertility drug consisting of highly purified FSH which is used to stimulate the production of more than one follicle for IUI, DI, IVF and ICSI.

Seminiferous Tubules
Very long and convoluted tubules which make up the bulk of the testicles. The site of sperm production.

TESA- Testicular Sperm Aspiration
This sperm extraction technique involves the insertion of a needle into the lower region of the testes and the removal of a small piece of testicular tissue. More information

TESE- Testicular Sperm Extraction
This sperm extraction technique involves the exposure of testicular tissue through a small cut in the scrotum and the removal of a small piece of testicular tissue. More information

Teratozoospermia
Poor sperm morphology (shape) can be a cause of infertility in the male.

Vas Deferens
Pair of tubes which join the epididymis to the urethra and transport sperm during ejaculation.

Varicocele
A varicose vein on the testicles. It is thought that these may cause overheating of the testicle and be detrimental to sperm production.