You might hear dozens of new scientific words and terms each time you happen to meet your doctor. Don’t worry. They are not as complicated as they sound to you.

Terms related to Fertility and Pregnancy

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There are currently 118 names in this directory
Abortion
The termination of a pregnancy through the expulsion of the fetus from the uterus.
Agglutination
When sperm clump together.
Albumin
A protein which if found in the urine of a pregnant woman can be a sign of preeclampsia.
Alpha fetoprotein
A substance produced by the fetus. High levels in a mother's blood can indicate a neural tube defect or multiple pregnancy.
Amenorrhea
A condition in which a woman doesn't have menstrual periods.
Amino acid
A building block of protein which is used by the body to build muscle and other tissue.
Amniocentesis
A prenatal test in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed for analysis.
Amniotic fluid
The fluid that surrounds a developing fetus.
Amniotic sac
The bag in which the fetus and amniotic fluid are contained during pregnancy.
Anal fissures
Cracks in the anus that can cause bleeding. Anal fissures can be accompanied by hemorrhoids or appear independently. Constipation causes and/or compounds them.
Anemia
A decrease in the number of red blood cells, usually due to a shortage of iron. The condition, detected through a blood test, causes such symptoms as fatigue, weakness, breathlessness, or fainting spells. Eating a diet rich in iron and taking an iron supplement during the second half of pregnancy is crucial to keep up with the increased need for red blood cells.
Anesthesia
Medically induced loss of sensation. General anesthesia involves the entire body; local anesthesia involves only a particular area.
Anovulation
A condition in which a woman doesn't ovulate or ovulates rarely.
Apnea
A temporary involuntary cessation of breathing.
Artificial Insemination
The general name for the procedure in which sperm are inserted directly into a woman's cervix, fallopian tubes, or uterus.
Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART)
The general term for infertility procedures (involving both egg and sperm) such as IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, and ICSI.
Azoospermia
When a man has no sperm present in his semen.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT)
A temperature reading that can be used to chart ovulation when taken every day.
Blastocyst
This stage of embryo development is achieved around 5 days after the egg is fertilized.
Body mass index (BMI)
The relationship of a person's height to weight. The formula the formula is calculated by multiplying 703 by a person's weight (in pounds) and dividing that number by the square of the person's height (in inches).
Breaking of water
The bursting of the sac holding the amniotic fluid using an instrument resembling a crochet hook with a pointy tip. Practitioners often break the waters to speed up a labor that has slowed.
Breech presentation
Fetal position in which the feet or buttocks of the baby are closest to the mother's cervix when labor begins.
Cerebral palsy
A disorder caused by a prenatal brain defect or brain injury during birth. It affects a child's ability to move, can result in seizures, and in some cases can lead to mental retardation or learning disabilities.
Cervical Mucus
Mucus produced by the cervix that increases in quantity as ovulation approaches.
Cervix
The lower portion of the uterus which extends into the vagina.
Cesarean section
Delivery of an infant through an incision in the abdominal and uterine walls.
Chemical pregnancy
An early loss that ends before the next period is due. There are usually no pregnancy symptoms, but a blood test can reveal small amounts of the pregnancy hormone HCG.
Chromosomes
The cellular structures that contain the genes.
Circumcision
Surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis.
Clomid
A fertility drug given to women to stimulate ovulation.
Colostrum
The milk secreted shortly before and for a few days after childbirth.
Conception
When a sperm and egg join to form a single cell, usually in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg travels into the uterus, where it implants in the lining.
Congenital
Present at birth.
Contraception
Methods to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant.
Contractions
The rhythmic tightening and relaxation of the uterine muscles that results in effacement and dilation of the cervix and the delivery of the baby. True labor contractions usually come in a regular pattern, gradually becoming closer together and increasing in intensity. The frequency of contractions is measured from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next contraction.
Cystic fibrosis
An inherited disorder that affects the respiratory and digestive systems.
Dehydration
When the body loses more fluid than it takes in.
Donor Eggs
Eggs that are taken from a fertile woman and implanted in another woman.
Doppler
A machine that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to detect the fetal heart.
Down syndrome
A congenital chromosomal birth defect that results in mental handicap/limitations and possible physical problems.
Due date
The estimated date a baby might be born. It is determined based on the first day of a woman's last menstruation. See Naegele's rule.
Eclampsia
A serious complication of pregnancy, characterized by seizures. It is the more severe form of preeclampsia.
Ectopic Pregnancy
When an embryo implants outside the uterus.
Egg donation
When a woman provides her eggs to help an infertile woman. The donor's ovaries are stimulated by drugs to produce extra eggs, which are surgically removed, fertilized, and then implanted in the recipient's uterus.
Embryo
The name given to the fertilized ovum until eight weeks after conception.
Endodermal germ layer
Also known as the endoderm or entoderm, this inner layer of cells in the embryo eventually develops into the digestive tract, respiratory organs, genitals, bladder, and urethra.
Endometriosis
A painful condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus.
Endometrium
The tissue lining the inside of the uterus.
Epidural
A type of anesthesia used to relieve pain during delivery. The catheter is placed in the epidural space in the vertebra area in the mother's back.
Essure
This tiny device this is planted in the fallopian tubes in an effective, permanent form of birth control called an hysteroscopic sterilization. Essure is hormone-free and can be placed during a procedure done in the doctor's office and without the need for general anesthesia. Each woman receives two Essure devices. Afterwards, some women have problems which can include changes in their monthly period, pain in the lower belly, or allergic reactions to the metal in the coil.
Estrogen
A hormone produced in the ovaries that works with progesterone to regulate menstruation.
Fallopian Tubes
Two hollow tubes on either side of the uterus where the egg and sperm meet to begin the process of fertilization.
False Labor
This is when you experience irregular tightening of the pregnant uterus that begins during the first three months of pregnancy. The contractions increase in time, length and strength as pregnancy continues. It may be impossible for you to differentiate from "real" labor.
Fertility
Being able to conceive and carry a baby to term.
Fetus
The name given to the baby in the womb from eight weeks until birth.
Folic acid
This B vitamin, found in prenatal vitamins and green leafy vegetables, prevents anemia and has been shown to reduce incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
Follicle
A group of cells forming a cavity in the ovary where the egg grows before it's released during ovulation.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
A hormone produced in the pituitary gland that causes cells in the ovaries to grow. Sold under the name Follistim, Fertinex, and Gonal-F.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)
An assisted reproductive technique that involves removing sperm and eggs, mixing them together and placing them into the fallopian tubes.
Genetic screening
Any test used to find genetic abnormalities
Gestational age
The duration of the pregnancy, measured from the first day of the last menstrual period.
Gestational diabetes
A condition that develops during pregnancy when blood sugar levels become too high because the mother doesn't produce enough insulin. Gestational diabetes can be treated, and it usually disappears after pregnancy.
Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (Gn-RH)
A hormone produced in the hypothalamus of the brain that is involved in triggering ovulation. Sold under the name Factrel and Lutrepulse.
Hemorrhage
Heavy bleeding.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
A hormone that can be used to trigger ovulation. Sold under the names Novarel, Pregnyl, and Ovidrel.
Hysterosalpinogram
An X-ray which involves injecting dye through the cervix into the uterus to determine if the fallopian tubes are open and the uterine cavity is normal.
Hysteroscopy
A procedure in which a thin, telescope-like instrument is inserted through the cervix into the uterus, allowing the doctor to see and photograph the area, and correct problems if needed.
Identical twins
Identical twins are formed from the division of one fertilized egg that then grows into two fetuses. They are genetically identical and will look exactly alike.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
An assisted reproductive technique that involves removing sperm and eggs, fertilizing them in a laboratory, then placing a fertilized egg in the uterus.
Induction
Artificial starting of labor.
Infertility
Typically defined as an inability to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
A laboratory procedure in which sperm and eggs are retrieved from both partners. A single sperm is injected directly into an egg, then the fertilized egg is implanted into the woman's uterus.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
An artificial insemination technique in which sperm are put directly into a woman's uterus at the time she is ovulating.
Lactation
Production of milk by the breasts.
Laparoscopy
A procedure that involves insertion of a narrow, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen.
Last menstrual period (LMP)
The first day of mother's last menstrual period. The date is used to figure the baby's estimated due date.
Lumbar epidural (LEP)
Pain medicine used to cause a decrease of sensation (numbness) in a specific region of the body – the lumbar region, or lower back. Used for labor pain (when desired) and for Cesarean section births.
Luteal Phase
The second half of the menstrual cycle.
Luteinizing Hormone
A hormone that triggers ovulation.
Mastitis
An infection of a milk duct in the breast. Symptoms include swelling, tenderness, redness, and fever. Treatment for mastitis includes massage, warm compress, continued breastfeeding from the infected side, and usually antibiotics.
Miscarriage
Spontaneous ending of the pregnancy prior to 24 weeks' gestation.
Molar pregnancy
An abnormal pregnancy in which there is no fetus, only an abnormal mass growth.
Morning sickness
Nausea, vomiting, and food and smell aversions, that affects more than 70 percent of pregnant women. Morning sickness, which can occur any time of day, usually begins at four to eight weeks gestation and subsides by week 14 or 16.
Morphology
The size and shape of sperm.
Motility
The ability of sperm to move by themselves.
Mucus
A sticky substance produced by glands.
Neonatal
Pertaining to a newborn infant.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Special care nursery for babies who are premature (born before 37 weeks) or who need specific care or observation.
Neural tube defects
Abnormalities in the spinal cord.
Oligospermia
When a man has too few sperm to fertilize an egg normally.
Ovulation
When the ovaries release a mature egg that is ready for fertilization.
Ovum
An egg.
Pap smear
A routine medical test to check for abnormalities in the cells of a woman's cervix. A pap smear is usually performed at the first prenatal visit.
Pelvic floor
The sling of muscles that holds the pelvic organs in place.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries due to infection; a cause of infertility in some women.
Placenta
The structure through which the fetus receives nourishment and oxygen during gestation.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
A common hormonal condition in which an imbalance in the sex hormones may cause menstrual abnormalities, skin and hair changes, obesity, infertility and other long-term health problems. The name comes from the multiple small cysts which line the ovaries of most women with the disorder. This condition is often associated with infertility.
Postcoital Test
A standard fertility test in which a sample of cervical mucus is taken after intercourse to check the number and behavior of the sperm.
Pre-eclampsia
A disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, edema, and kidney malfunction. Elevated blood pressure in the last half of pregnancy accompanied by swelling of face, hands, and feet, and protein in the urine.
Premature Ovarian Failure
A condition in which a woman enters menopause before age 40 as a result of the ovaries ceasing ovulation and the production of estrogen.
Retrograde Ejaculation
A condition in which semen enters the bladder during ejaculation instead of leaving the penis.
Semen Analysis
A standard test of a man's semen to check the number and shape of his sperm and their motility.
Sonogram
The use of high-frequency sound waves to create images of structures inside the body.
Sonography
The use of ultrasound (sound waves) to form an image of the fetus.
Sperm
The main agents of male reproduction, which are produced in the testes and released into the semen.
Stillbirth
Delivery of a dead fetus after 28 weeks' gestation.
Stretch marks
Discolored linear patterns that result from stretching of the skin. In pregnancy, stretch marks, also known as striae, may appear on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, and legs; they usually fade slowly after delivery.
Superovulation
Stimulation of the ovaries, usually done with hormones, that causes them to produce multiple eggs instead of one.
Trimester
One-third of a pregnancy.
Tubal Ligation
A surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are surgically closed by cutting, clamping, banding, tying or sealing them to prevent pregnancy.
Umbilical cord
The structure through which the fetus draws blood, and thus oxygen and nutrients, from the placenta.
Urethra
The tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.
Uterus
The womb, the main female reproductive organ.
Vagina (birth canal)
The curved, elastic canal from the perineum to the uterus.
Varicocele
A varicose vein in the scrotum that may affect the quality and the production of sperm.
Vasectomy
A surgical procedure for men that prevents sperm from reaching the urethra, making him sterile.
Zygote
An early stage in the development of a fertilized egg.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
An assisted reproductive technique similar to IVF that involves removing sperm and eggs, combining them outside the body, and inserting fertilized eggs into the fallopian tubes.