Glossary

Please find below an explanation of terms and phrases on our website.

A

Antral Follicle Count

The use of ultrasound scan to determine the number of eggs that a woman starts a cycle with. This is one of the parameters of ovarian reserve and can predict a woman’s response to stimulation drugs. Must be considered in combination with other ovarian reserve tests

AMH test

A blood test to measure the Anti-Müllerian Hormone levels. AMH is released by small follicles in the ovary and can therefore indicate the ovarian reserve of a patient.

B

Blastocyst

An embryo on the 5th day of culture. This is made up of hundreds of cells in an organised way with a mass of cells that forms the baby surrounded by a shell of cells that will form the placenta and the membranes. Blastocysts implant between the 5th and 7th day of development.

 

C

Cycle Monitoring

Use of ultrasound scan, and if needed blood tests, to monitor the development and growth of a dominant follicle, the process of ovulation and the progesterone level 7 days after the ovulation.

Conventional IVF

In conventional IVF, initial treatment with medications is used to generate a relatively high number of egg cells. For this purpose, patients are usually given daily subcutaneous injections.

D

DNA fragmentation

A test that identifies the levels of DNA damage within a sperm population. A high level of DNA damage has been linked with use chance of pregnancy with the use of IUI. Some evidence suggests that it may contribute to an unfavourable outcome in IVF cycles as well.

Donor Sperm

Semen sample provided by a man for the purpose of inseminating a female who is not his sexual partner. Sperm donation is frequently used in the treatment of single women, women in same-sex relationship and for couples where the man cannot father a child.

E

Endometriosis

Is a disease where the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus develops in areas outside it. Although pregnancies do occur naturally in women with endometriosis, pregnancy rates are superior with IVF.

Endocrinology testing

An endocrinologist uses diagnostic tests to measure hormone levels for several reasons, including measuring the levels of various hormones in a patient's body; learning if the endocrine glands are working correctly; determining the cause of an endocrinological problem or confirming an earlier diagnosis.

EmbryoScope

EmbryoScope is a special incubator with a time-lapse camera that allows the embryologist to observe the embryo development at all times. The embryologists are able to make detailed assessments without removing the embryos from the incubator.

Egg freezing

A process that enables the scientists to store eggs for future use in fertility treatment. Vitrification is a fast/instant freezing process and has been proven to result in less damage to eggs compared to the old freezing method.

ERA test

Endometrium Receptivity Array test used to determine the exact ideal time for replacement of embryos to the womb.

Egg Donation

A process by which eggs are provided by a woman for the purpose of fertility treatment of another woman or a couple. Egg Donors provide their eggs altruistically and have no parental rights or commitment.

F

FSH

Follicle Stimulating Hormone. A hormone involved in sperm production and in development of follicles (fluid filled parcels in the ovaries which contain the eggs).

G
H

HFEA

HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) is the UK's independent regulator that oversees the use of gametes and embryos in fertility treatment and research. It also licenses fertility clinics and centres carrying out in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The authority presents success rates for every licensed clinic. These rates show the number of treatments carried out by the clinic and the number of pregnancies or live births that were born as a result.

Hormone test for fertility

Testing the primary female sex hormones is part of process that helps us direct IVF treatment and following initial consultations and physical examination. Usually it takes place during woman’s period, to check for hormone imbalances – measurement of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinising hormone) and E2 (oestrogen). These tests can also identify the cause of subfertility and help direct the way that we manage your treatment protocols.

I

IVF

In Vitro Fertilisation. A process by which an embryo is created outside the body in the laboratory using collected egg(s). The eggs and the prepared sperm are kept together over night in special dish. The fertilisation is checked the following morning.

IUI

Intrauterine Insemination. A process by which prepared sperm are introduced into the womb by means of a thin tube.

ICSI

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. A process by which sperm are introduced into the heart of the egg under the microscope. ICSI is recommended where there is a risk of low or failed fertilisation due to a low sperm count, poor motility or the shape of the sperm are not as we would expect.

IMSI

Intracytoplasmic Morphologically selected Sperm Injection. A detailed analysis of sperm using a high powered microscope to improve sperm selection for use in ICSI.

J
K
L

LH

Luteinising hormone. A hormone involved in the production of oestrogen in the ovaries and testosterone in the testicles. It is also involved in the ovulation process and the final maturation of eggs. LH levels peak 24 hours – 48 hours before ovulation occurs naturally. LH is often measured during monitoring of ovarian stimulation cycles.

Low ovarian reserve

Low ovarian reserve is when there is a physiological decrease in the number of eggs, resulting in an insufficient number to ensure a reasonable chance of pregnancy. This only becomes an issue when a woman has problems getting pregnant. Other women experience this condition in their 30’s and 40’s. 

M

MESA

Microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration. An open surgical sperm retrieval procedure that uses an operating microscopy to extract sperm directly from the tubules of the epididymis, the sperm storage area in the testis.

Micro-TESE

Micro testicular sperm extraction like TESE using a microscope to look for areas which are more likely to have a sperm production in them.

Male factor subfertility

Male factor subfertility is a condition that causes a man to have problems getting a woman pregnant. Subfertility is when a man has been unable to get a woman pregnant after 1 year of regular sex without birth control.

N
O

Oestrogen

The primary female sex hormone responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics.

Ovulation Induction

Use of pills or injections to assist the growth and maturation of eggs leading to ovulation in women with anovulation (lack of natural ovulation). Ovulation induction can be combined with Timed Sexual Intercourse or with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).

Ovarian Reserve

A term used to describe the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries at any given time. The reservoir of eggs dwindles from birth onwards, this drop in numbers speeds up from the mid-30s. There is no direct way of assessing a woman’s ovarian reserve. Antral Follicle Count, AMH blood test and FSH measurement can give an indirect picture of ovarian reserve

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a medical condition affecting the ovaries of some women who take fertility medication to stimulate egg growth. Most cases are mild.

P

PGS

Preimplantation genetic screening is an assessment of a small part of an egg, embryo or blastocyst to determine its genetic make-up. The test is performed before implantation to ensure the embryo(s) selected for transfer has the highest implantation potential.

PGD

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is an assessment of a small part of an egg, embryo or blastocyst to determine whether the embryo has a specific genetic sequence that is linked to a known genetic disease. This type of testing was developed to assist couples who know that they suffer from or are carriers of an inheritable genetic disorder. The screening test will allow the selection of “cleared” embryos that do not have the disorder to ensure that genetic issues are not passed on to the next generation.

Progesterone

Is a sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and the development of embryos. Produced following ovulation it plays a key role in embryo implantation and also helps to maintain a pregnancy. It is usual to take progesterone supplements during IVF as other drugs given during IVF and the egg retrieval process can decrease progesterone-producing cells.

Polycystic ovaries

Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles, these fluid filled sacs usually contain under-developed eggs. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work. It causes that the occurrence of multiple sacs but they are often unable to release an egg, which means that ovulation doesn't take place. Signs and symptoms can include no period, difficulty of getting pregnant, weight gain or excessive hair growth.

PICSI

Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection is a technique which allows the embryologist to select a mature sperm for ICSI based on binding to a natural occurring product that is found outside and inside of the egg.

Pelvic Adhesions

Pelvic adhesions (scar tissue) are usually caused by multiple pelvic/abdominal surgeries, infection, or endometriosis. Scar tissue can be completely asymptomatic and not cause any problems. When scar tissue causes infertility, pain or gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating and constipation, surgical resection needs to be considered

Q
R

Recurrent miscarriages

Defined in the UK as three or more consecutive miscarriages. In the USA the definition is two or more consecutive miscarriages.

S

Semen Analysis

Also called a spermiogram. Serves for evaluating certain characteristics of semen and the sperm contained therein.  It is often done to help evaluate male fertility.

Surgical Sperm Retrieval

Referring to any procedure carried out to extract sperm when there is no sperm in the ejaculate. This can be MESA, TESA, TESE or micro-TESE.

Sperm freezing

A process that enables the scientists to store sperm for future use in fertility treatment.

Surrogacy

The surrogacy is an agreement by which a woman carries and gives birth to the child for the intended parents or commissioning couple.

T

Testosterone

Is a male hormone that plays an important role in the development of the male reproductive system and sperm.

TESE

Testicular sperm extraction. An open surgical sperm retrieval procedure that involves opening up the scrotum and taking a large volume of testicular tissue, usually from several regions of the testicle. Sperm are then retrieved by embryology team members using a microscope to identify individual sperm.

TESA

Testicular sperm aspiration. A procedure by which a needle is passed through the scrotal skin into the testis and some tissue is aspirated. The tissue is then looked at under the microscope to search for sperm cells.

Timed Sexual Intercourse

Intercourse before ovulation occurs (normally up to 24 hours before).

Tubal occlusion

Tubal occlusion is a permanent method of birth control for women. It is achieved by an operation to permanently block both fallopian tubes. This prevents sperm from fertilising an egg

U
V

Vitrification

A process that enables the scientists to store eggs or embryos. Vitrification is a fast/instant freezing process and has been proven to result in less damage to eggs or embryos compared to the old freezing method.

W
X
Y
Z