Glossary of terminology

Glossary of terminology


AFC: Antral Follicle Count is an ultrasound test that allows the evaluation of the ovarian reserve of reproductive cells; a number below 7 (AFC <7) is associated with reduced ovarian reserve and poor response to ovarian stimulation treatments for IVF

AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone): AMH is a hormone produced by cells in the ovarian follicles. AMH level is a good marker for estimating ovarian follicle reserve.

GnRH analogues (agonists and antagonists): Synthetic hormones similar to or antagonists of GnRH. GnRH analogues are given to inhibit pituitary function and to control ovarian stimulation.

Antisperm antibodies: antibodies against sperm. If they attach to the sperm’s head, they can affect natural fertilization

Assisted Hatching: the micromanipulation technique that consists in removing a fragment from the membrane of the embryo (pellucid area).

Azoospermia: Complete absence of sperm in the semen. It can be caused by obstruction of the vas deferens (the canal that carries sperm from the testicles to the urethra) or by affecting the production of sperm in the testicles.


Endometrial biopsy: A sample of tissue from the lining of the inner lining of the uterus (called the endometrium)

Inflammatory pelvic disease (PID): Infection of the pelvic organs that can result in the formation of scars or adhesions in the fallopian tubes and pelvic tissues; also known as “annex”

Blastocyst: an embryo that performed multiple cell divisions and formed a cavity inside. The fertilized egg can reach the blastocyst stage after 4-5 days after fertilization.


Karyotype: The presence and arrangement of chromosomes in the cell nucleus. The test that evaluates the number, shape and appearance of chromosomes has the same name.

Cervix: The portion that connects the uterus to the vagina. In this segment, the appearance of abnormal cells is verified by the Pap test.

Chlamydia: A sexually transmitted bacterium that can irreversibly affect the female reproductive organs, causing infertility. It often does not cause significant symptoms.

Luteal Body (yellow body): Formation from the ovarian follicle, after the release of the egg during ovulation. It secretes hormones, especially progesterone.

Cryopreservation: The process of freezing reproductive cells or embryos at very low temperatures (-196 ° C)

Chromosome: The nuclear genetic structure of each cell. Chromosomal abnormalities can cause miscarriage or birth defects. Age increases the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in oocytes and embryos.


Egg donation: The process involves hormonal stimulation of the donor, puncturing the ovaries and harvesting the eggs. These are fertilized with the sperm of the recipient’s partner. The resulting embryos are transferred to the recipient’s uterus.


Ultrasound: An imaging method used to diagnose the presence of ovarian cysts, tumors, uterine fibroids and pregnancy, or to monitor the development of follicles in patients undergoing ovarian stimulation treatment. In general, in examinations for monitoring / diagnosing infertility in women, the vaginal probe is used

Embryo: Fertilized oocyte that has begun cell division and already has several cells

Endometriosis: The presence and growth of tissue similar to the endometrium (uterine lining) outside the uterus, most often in the fallopian tubes, ovaries or other pelvic structures and organs. The condition is benign, but progressive. In advanced stages, it can severely affect the ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing infertility.

Endometrium: The mucosa lining the inner face of the uterus where embryos are implanted

Endoscopy: The surgical procedure that involves visualizing the pelvic organs (laparoscopy) or the uterine cavity (hysterocopy) using a telescope. During this procedure, therapeutic interventions can be performed.

Epididymis: The tubular structure through which sperm flow from the testicle to the vas deferens to the urethra and penis. The epididymis is the place where sperm mature and develop their ability to fertilize.

Estrogen (Estradiol, E2): The main female hormone secreted by the ovaries. The follicles secrete estradiol as they grow. The maximum level is reached during ovulation.


Fertilization: The union of the sperm with the egg to form an embryo.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): The method of assisted reproduction that involves the union of the egg with the sperm outside the mother’s body. The fertilized oocyte divides into several cells, and the resulting embryo is transferred to the uterus.

Fetus (fetus): After the formation of organs, an embryo moves to a more advanced stage of development and is called

Fibroma (Myoma): Benign tumor of the uterine muscle. Fibroids can develop into the uterine cavity, preventing implantation. May cause complications by enlarging or compressing neighboring structures. It is treated by surgery (laparoscopy, hysteroscopy or classic interventions), embolization (interruption of blood supply) or medication.

Follicle: A fluid-filled formation located in the ovary, in which an egg develops. At the beginning of the cycle, several small follicles containing immature eggs are recruited. Usually, only one of these follicles will mature and grow. This dominant follicle will rupture during ovulation and release the egg, which will be captured by the fallopian tube. The collapsed dominant follicle, left after ovulation, turns into a yellow body

FSH (Follicular Stimulation Hormone): hormone secreted by the pituitary gland (pituitary gland). FSH stimulates the growth and development of ovarian follicles. It is the main hormone in the composition of gonadotropin-based drugs.


Gamet: reproductive cell (sperm in men and oocyte in women)

Pituitary gland (Pituitary gland): Small gland that secretes hormones, located in the brain, just below the hypothalamus. It controls the ovaries, thyroid and adrenal glands. Ovarian function is controlled by the secretion of FSH and LH.

Glera (Cervical mucus) is secreted by the glandular cells of the cervix. This allows sperm to enter during ovulation and protects the uterus from bacteria in the vagina.

Gonadotropins: Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are pituitary hormones that stimulate ovulation and the production of estogen and progesterone.

GnRH: The gonadotropin-releasing hormone is produced by the hypothalamus and controls pituitary secretion of LH and FSH. These hormones, in turn, control ovarian function.


HCG: Human chorionic gonadotropin is the main hormone secreted by the placenta. It is used in drugs to trigger ovulation, having an action similar to pituitary LH. It is tested in the blood to detect the implantation of the pregnancy (pregnancy test).

Hydrosalpinx: accumulation of fluid in the fallopian tube

Ovarian hyperstimulation: As a result of ovarian stimulation treatments, hyperstimulation causes a marked increase in the volume of the ovaries. It occurs when the ovaries produce excess follicles in response to hormonal treatment.

Pituitary gland (pituitary gland): The small gland that secretes hormones, located in the brain, just below the hypothalamus. It controls the ovaries, thyroid and adrenal glands. Ovarian function is controlled by the secretion of FSH and LH.

Hysterosalpingography (HSG): A method of radiological examination of the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes. It consists in introducing a contrast substance through the cervix and fallopian tubes, in order to evaluate their permeability.

Hysteroscopy: The procedure involves inserting an extremely thin telescope into the uterine cavity. It allows a detailed visualization of the uterine cavity and the endometrium. Hysteroscopy can diagnose conditions such as uterine fibroids, polyps or adhesions.

Follicular stimulation hormone (FSH): hormone secreted by the pituitary gland (pituitary gland). FSH stimulates the growth and development of ovarian follicles. It is the main hormone in the composition of gonadotropin-based drugs.

Luteinizing hormone (LH): The hormone of the pituitary gland that triggers ovulation and stimulates the luteal body to secrete progesterone in the second part of the menstrual cycle.


ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is a micromanipulation technique that involves injecting a single sperm into the cytoplasm of the egg to help fertilize

Implantation: The process by which the embryo enters and attaches to the uterine lining

Induction of ovulation: Stimulation of the ovaries by the administration of drugs in order to produce and release a mature egg.

Infertility: The result of a dysfunction of the reproductive system, which affects the conception or ability to carry a pregnancy to term

Inhibin: Hormone produced by ovarian follicle cells and testicles; signals the pituitary gland to reduce FSH secretion

Intrauterine artificial insemination (AI): the procedure for introducing processed sperm into the uterine cavity in the laboratory

Premature ovarian failure (early menopause): Significant reduction in ovarian ovarian reserve and ovarian hormone production before the age of 40 years.


Laparoscopy: The surgical procedure of inserting a telescope through a small incision in the abdominal wall to visualize the pelvic organs. It is used as a method of diagnosis and treatment in infertility, tubal obstruction, adhesions, endometriosis, ovarian tumors, uterine fibroids

Laparotomy: Surgical opening of the abdomen through an incision in the abdominal wall

LH (Luteinizing Hormone)



Caring mother: the woman pregnant with the embryo conceived by IVF from genetic material from other biological parents.

Menopause: stopping the menstrual cycle and the ability of the ovaries to produce hormones and eggs. The average age at which menopause occurs is 50 years

Early menopause (premature ovarian failure): Significant reduction in ovarian ovarian reserve and ovarian hormone production before the age of 40 years.

MESA (Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration): Aspiration of epidermal sperm after incision of the scrotal skin in men diagnosed with azoospermia.

Micromanipulation: Advanced technique for manipulating gametes and embryos. Intracytoplasmic injection of sperm is a form of micromanipulation.

Sperm morphology: shape, appearance and structure of sperm

Morula: the incipient phase of a developing embryo, in which the cells multiply rapidly and can no longer be counted (stage usually reached on day 4 of development)

Sperm motility: Percentage of mobile sperm in the total sperm present in a sperm sample

Cervical mucus (Glera) The cervical mucus is secreted by the cells of the cervix. This allows sperm to enter during ovulation and protects the uterus from bacteria in the vagina.


Nucleus: The structure inside the cell that contains the genetic material (chromosomes).


Ovaries: The two female sex glands located in the pelvis, on either side of the uterus. The ovaries release oocytes during ovulation and secrete estrogen, progesterone and androgens.

Egg (oocyte): The female reproductive cell is the largest cell in the human body; if it unites with a sperm, it forms a zygote, then an embryo.

Ovulation: The release of a mature egg from the ovary, usually in the middle of the menstrual cycle


PGT (Preimplantation Genetic Testing): Advanced technique for detecting genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in embryo cells before implantation. Being an invasive and expensive procedure, it is used only for couples at high risk of having children with genetic diseases.

Placenta: The organ responsible for feeding and developing the fetus in the womb. In the case of placental abnormalities, there is a risk of delayed growth or even death of the fetus.

Polyp: Benign formation of the uterine lining or endometrium. It can affect implantation causing infertility, abnormal bleeding or loss of pregnancy.

Oocyte recipient: The woman who receives oocytes from an egg donor. They can be fertilized with your partner’s sperm or with sperm from a donor.

Progesterone: Female hormone secreted by the luteal body after ovulation, in the second part of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase). Prepares the uterine lining (endometrium) for embryo implantation.

Prolactin: Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland (pituitary gland). Its main role is to control the secretion of milk from the mammary gland. Excess prolactin can affect ovulation.


Egg harvesting: Inserting a puncture needle through the vagina to aspirate the ovarian follicles that contain the eggs. This procedure is performed under ultrasound guidance.

Fetal (embryonic) reduction: The procedure used to selectively reduce a multiple pregnancy: some girls are given a substance that stops them from evolving, to reduce the number of viable girls.

Assisted reproduction: reproduction procedures involving the manipulation of sperm and / or oocytes in the laboratory

Ovarian reserve: The number of oocytes left in the ovaries at a given time.


Biochemical pregnancy: Early pregnancy detected by pregnancy tests, but which does not reach the gestational sac and is visible ultrasound

Clinical pregnancy: Pregnancy that has advanced to a stage where the gestational sac and / or fetus can be seen on ultrasound

Ectopic pregnancy (extrauterine): The implantation of the pregnancy outside the uterine cavity determines the development of an ectopic pregnancy. It can be located in one of the fallopian tubes, but also in the ovary, neck or inside the abdomen.

Uterine septum: The presence of a thick membrane that separates the uterine cavity, partially or completely, into two distinct parts. May prevent implantation or cause pregnancy loss

Sonohisterography: It is a diagnostic procedure that allows the visualization of polyps or fibroids in the uterine cavity. Under ultrasound control, a contrast solution is injected into the uterus, which relaxes the cavity and improves visibility. It also allows tubal permeability testing.

Sperm: Male reproductive cell composed of the head, middle part and flagellum (tail). The head of the sperm carries the genetic material (chromosomes), the intermediate part ensures the production of energy, and the tail has movements capable of ensuring its movement towards the egg.

Spermogram: Microscopic examination of sperm to e

Ovarian Stimulation: Stimulation of the ovaries by the administration of drugs in order to produce and release one or more eggs



Assisted Reproduction Technologies (ART): Reproductive procedures involving laboratory manipulation of sperm and / or oocytes

THESIS (Testicular Sperm Extraction): The surgical procedure for extracting sperm from the testicles (testicular biopsy). In the testicular tissue sample, there are usually few sperm that can be used in an IVF procedure with ICSI.

Postcoital test: Evaluation of cervical mucus taken after sexual intercourse and the presence of mobile sperm. The test can be performed up to 12 hours after sexual intercourse.

Testicles: Male reproductive glands located in the scrotum, which produce sperm and male hormones.

Testosterone: The main hormone secreted by the testicles. The effects of testosterone include: growing chin, developing muscle mass, thickening the voice and maturing sperm. Testosterone is also secreted in small amounts by women’s ovaries.

Embryo transfer (embryo transfer): The procedure of placing embryos in the uterus

Uterine tube: muscular-membranous tube connected to the uterus and open in the abdomen, at the other end, near the ovary. The role of the fallopian tube is to capture the egg from the surface of the ovary and to transport the fertilized egg and then the embryo to the uterine cavity.

TSH: Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that controls the thyroid gland. Elevated values ​​mean a lack of thyroid function. Some thyroid disorders are associated with infertility


Uterus: Muscular organ positioned in the pelvis. It is connected to the vagina through the neck and the abdominal cavity through the fallopian tubes. Its role is to host and feed the fetus during its developmental period. The uterine cavity is lined with a mucosa called the endometrium


Varicocele: Abnormal dilation of the veins in the testicle. Present in 25% of infertile men, it causes an increase in blood volume and an increase in the temperature in the testicles. In some men, it can affect sperm quality. Surgery consists of ligating dilated vessels but the result on fertility is not always as expected.

Vessel: Tubular segment located between the epididymis and urethra, in men.

Vasectomy: The procedure of binding the vas deferens, which blocks the transport of sperm to the urethra. It is an effective method of male contraception


ZIFT (Zygote intrafallopian transfer): The transfer of a zygote to the fallopian tube

Zygote: fertilized egg

Pellucid area: A non-cellular translucent layer resembling a membrane that surrounds the egg and embryo. Before implanting in the uterine lining, the embryo must emerge (hatch) from the pellucid area. In some women, the area is thick and the embryo cannot be implanted. Assisted hatching can help the embryo in this process.