Learning the Language of Fertility

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By Dr Andy Stamatiou, City Fertility Centre Brisbane.

Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of available information on fertility? Have you noticed there are many terms to get your head around? There is ART, IVF and ICSI just to name a few. There are facts, emotions, logistics and more to consider when you are seeking fertility assistance. We know it is a lot to handle, so to help you understand a little more about what we are talking about, I have explained some of the more commonly used terms below. For more facts and explanations, feel free to ask us or have a look at our fact sheets.

 

Common Fertility Terms

Fertility Term Meaning
ART Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART), also known as Assisted Reproductive Technology, refers to technologies and associated methods used to help people in achieving a pregnancy.
IVF In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). The procedure by which the eggs from the female partner and the sperm of the male partner are mixed in the laboratory. Provided fertilisation occurs in the laboratory and the resultant embryos look normal, they are transferred into the uterus (womb) of the female. In natural conception, the egg and sperm meet in the fallopian tube, where fertilisation and early development occur before implantation in the uterus.
ICSI Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). This term refers to the direct injection of a single sperm into the substance (called cytoplasm) of the egg, thus the term ICSI refers to Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. This procedure, used for the more severe forms of male infertility, is sometimes also referred to as microinjection.
IUI Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI). The placement of prepared sperm into the womb using a fine catheter.
GIFT Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT). Mimics natural conception more closely than IVF. In GIFT, eggs are collected from the female partner but instead of being taken to the laboratory for fertilisation, the eggs plus the previously collected and washed sperm are placed directly into a normal fallopian tube using a fine, sterile plastic tube. This is now considered an outdated procedure and is rarely used today. There is no greater pregnancy rate compared with IVF.
OI Ovulation Induction (OI). The use of medication to promote ovulation in women who normally do not ovulate or do not ovulate regularly.
PGD Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) tests early-stage embryos produced through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) for the presence of a variety of conditions. One cell is extracted from the embryo in its eight-cell stage and analysed. Embryos free of conditions that would cause serious disease can be implanted in the uterus and allowed to develop. Comparative Genomic Hybridisation (CGH) genetic screening is one type of PGD test and involves direct examination of the DNA molecule itself.
TESA Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA). A procedure in which sperm are obtained directly from the testicle by either needle aspiration or surgical excision of testicular tissue.
Gamete The male or female reproductive cells, the sperm or the egg.
DS Donor sperm (DS). Sperm collected from a man who is not the woman’s partner, to be used for artificial insemination or for IVF.
DE Donor egg (oocyte). Eggs taken from one woman and donated to another.
EMBRYO TRANSFER The placement of embryos into the womb or fallopian tubes using a fine catheter.
EMBRYO CRYOPRESERVATION The snap-freezing of embryos for storage and future use.
HATCHING The process that precedes implantation and by which an embryo at the blastocyst stage separates from the zona pellucida.
IMPLANTATION The embedding of an embryo in the endometrium of the uterus.
CLINICAL PREGNANCY A positive Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) test and the presence of a fetal heartbeat in ultrasound.
FETUS The developing human after embryo stage from the ninth week of pregnancy to birth.
FSH Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). A pituitary gland hormone that is essential for the growth of ovarian follicles in the woman and sperm production in the man.
LH Luteinising Hormone (LH). A hormone secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary. Its main function is to mature and release the egg.
LH SURGE The release of large amounts of Luteinising Hormone (LH), which triggers ovulation in a normal menstrual cycle.
ESTROGEN A hormone produced by the ovary in increasing amounts before ovulation.
PROGESTERONE A hormone produced by the corpus luteum after ovulation. Progesterone is important for its role in preparing and maintaining the lining of the womb for implantation of the embryo.

 

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