Assisted Hatching A laboratory procedure where an opening is made in the “shell” of the egg. This allows the embryo to “hatch” easier.

Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) Methods to help increase the chances of conception in subfertile couples that involve handling of sperm or eggs outside of the womans body.

Cervical mucus A substance secreted by the neck of the womb that regulates sperm movement into the womb.

Ectopic Pregnancy A pregnancy in which the fertilised egg implants outside its normal position in the womb.

Embryo The earliest stages of fetal development, from conception to about the 8th week of pregnancy.

Endometriosis The presence of tissue from the inner lining of the womb in an abnormal position outside the womb.

Fallopian tubes These two slender tubes connect the ovaries to the womb and allow sperm and eggs to meet. The lining of the tube is thought to secrete special nutrients that are important for egg development, fertilization and nourishment of the embryos.

Fertilisation occurs when a sperm penetrates the shell of the egg to form the early embryo. Fertilisation requires motile and healthy sperms. In Infertility due to poor sperm, various techniques can be used in the laboratory to improve fertilisation rates. In cases where the sperm count is very low, sperm can be injected directly into the egg (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI).

Follicle Circular structures containing the developing eggs in the ovaries which are seen as dark circles in the ovaries on the ultrasound scan.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) A hormone produced and released from the brain that is capable of stimulating the growth and development of the egg.

GnRH antagonist A drug used to prevent the brain from interfering with the process of egg development in ART.

Gonadotrophin A hormone capable of stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs

Hormone Chemicals produced by one tissue, which circulates in the blood, and has an effect on other distant tissues.

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (hCG) A substance secreted by the placenta that accounts for the pregnancy test being positive. When injected at the right time it will cause the egg to be released, ready to be fertilized by sperm.

In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Replacement (ART-ER) A procedure in which eggs are removed from the body and are fertilised by sperm outside the body. The fertilised eggs are then replaced into the womb through the vagina and cervix.

Laparoscopy The direct visualisation and manipulation of the ovaries, tubes and uterus by means of a surgical instrument inserted through small incisions in the lower abdomen.

Luteinising Hormone (LH) A substance secreted by the brain that controls the timing of egg release.

Micromanipulation An advanced microscopic technique in which a single sperm is directly injected into the egg using very fine needles.  Also called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI.

Oocytes (eggs) are produced in the ovaries in response to signals from the brain. When the eggs develop they are surrounded by a layer of cells and a fluid filled cavity (the follicle). The size of the follicle can be measured by ultrasound scanning.

Ovary The sexual organ of the female where eggs are produced. There are two ovaries and when the eggs are released from the ovary, they are picked up by the fallopian tubes and guided into the womb.

Ovulation or release of the eggs from the ovary occur when the follicle is mature. Ovulation normally occurs in response to a hormone signal from the brain. The released egg is then ready for fertilisation with sperm in the fallopian tube.

Pessary Drugs inserted into the vagina.

Semen The thick fluid ejaculated from the penis during sexual intercourse. Semen contains various secretions and sperm which are the male reproductive cells.

Ultrasound scan A technique using high-frequency sound waves to visualise the follicles in the ovaries and to define the contents of the uterus. Perfectly safe for pregnancy.

Uterus (womb) receives the fertilised egg (embryo). A healthy inner lining is essential for implantation, which is the process whereby the early embryo attaches to the inner lining of the womb.

Vagina The tubular passage that connects the womb to the external environment.


Copyright © 2004 O & G Partners. All rights reserved. Last update: March 15, 2004