ProcreaWinnipeg, Manitoba


Acrosome: Enzymes contained in the head of the sperm that allow the sperm to penetrate through the zona pellucida of the egg and undertake fertilization of the egg.

Adhesions: Fibrous scarring, caused by infection or surgery. If they are found in the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries they may impair fertility.

Adnexa: Uterine appendages, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the ligaments of the uterus.

Adrenal Gland: A small gland above each kidney that secretes hormones that affect reproduction.

Amenorrhea: The absence of menstrual periods.

Andrology: The study of male reproduction.

Anovulation: The absence of ovulation.

Antibodies: Proteins made by the body's immune system to fight and destroy foreign substances and prevent infection. Some antibodies may attack sperm, causing infertility.

Assisted Hatching: The use of micromanipulation procedures to create an opening in the zona pellucida of the embryo. This is used in conjunction with IVF.

Azoospermia: The non production of sperm as a result of testicular failure or the complete lack of sperm.

Basal Body Temperature: (BBT) Is used to predict ovulation. It is measured, in the morning, before getting out of bed, with a special thermometer.

Bicorniate Uteri: A uterus with two horns with either a single or a double cervix

Cervical Mucus: Mucus produced by the cervix. The amount and consistency of this mucus changes during the menstrual cycle and can be used by the patient to determine time of ovulation.

Cervix: The lowest part of the uterus, which opens into the vagina.

Clomiphene Citrate: A synthetic drug used to stimulate the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to increase FSH and LH production.

Corpus Luteum: A structure on the ovary, which forms from an ovulatory follicle and which, through endocrine secretions (including progesterone), functions to prepare the uterus for pregnancy.

Cryopreservation: The freezing and storage of living cells.

Cytoplasm: The fluid which fills living cells and which contains essential cellular components including the nucleus.

Culture Media: A standard solution used in the lab to promote growth and division of a fertilized egg until embryo transfer.

Cyst: A fluid-filled structure that can be seen in the ovary. It can be of a large range of sizes and there can be more than one.

Division Arrest: A condition where the embryo stops dividing.

Donor Insemination: Artificial insemination with a donor's sperm.

Ectopic Pregnancy: The development of a fertilized egg outside the uterus; embryos may migrate into the fallopian tube and lodge there rather than returning to the uterine cavity for normal development.

Ejaculate: The semen and sperm-containing fluid produced on ejaculation.

Electroejaculation: The use of electrical stimulation to induce ejaculation in a man. It is commonly used in men with spinal cord injuries in order to obtain sperm for assisted reproductive treatments.

Embryo: The term used to describe developing offspring during the period between fertilization and organ formation.

Embryo Transfer: The transfer of embryo(s) into the uterus.

Endometriosis: The presence of endometrial tissue (the cycling tissue which lines the uterus) at sites outside the uterus. These sites usually include the fallopian tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity. The condition is associated with pelvic pain, pain during menstruation and infertility.

Endometrium: The cycling lining of the uterus. This structure receives the implanting embryo.

Endoscope: An instrument for the examination of the interior of a hollow organ, such as uterus or abdominal cavity

Epididymis: The organ that stores sperm as they develop and pass from the testicles to the vas deferens.

Estradiol: A hormone released by developing follicles in the ovary. Plasma estradiol levels are used to help determine progressive growth of the follicle during ovulation induction.

Estrogen: The primary female hormone, produced mainly by developing ovarian follicles.

Fallopian Tubes: The structures that lie between the ovaries and uterus. They normally receive the ovulated egg and provide the site for fertilization and early embryo development.

Fertilization: The process that results when an egg and sperm combine to create a zygote (which later divides to become an embryo). With natural conception, fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes. With in vitro fertilization, it occurs in a laboratory dish. With intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) it occurs after the injection of the sperm into the egg.

Fetus: The developing baby from the second month of pregnancy until birth.

Fibroid Tumor: A benign tumor of fibrous tissue that may occur in the uterine wall; may be totally without symptoms or may cause abnormal menstrual patterns.

Fimbria: The finger like processes on the distal part of the fallopian tube.

Fimbrioplasty: The surgical repair of the fimbria of the fallopian tube

Follicle: The structure that houses the egg and subsequently fosters its development and ultimate ovulation. At birth, there are in excess of 1,000,000 follicles per female ovary. This number decreases continuously throughout life.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Gonadotropic hormone released from the pituitary gland and functioning to stimulate ovarian follicular growth and development. The same hormone plays an essential role in male sperm production.

Gametes: Male and female sex cells (sperm and eggs).

Gestational Sac: The fluid filled sac in which the fetus develops.

Gonads: Male (testes) and female (ovaries) organs which produce sex cells, (sperm and egg)

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH): A hormone that signals the pituitary gland to release the gonadtropins LH and FSH.

Gonadotropins: Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Hormones produced by the pituitary gland and which stimulate egg and sperm development in the ovaries and testicles respectively. Purified forms of these hormones are obtained from urine or genetically engineered cells.

Hemi Uterus: One half of the uterus, commonly called Unicollus or Unicornuate

Hormone: A natural protein produced in one body tissue and carried via the bloodstream to initiate a response in another tissue.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG): A hormone secreted by the placenta during pregnancy that prolongs the life of the corpus luteum, progesterone production and thus preserves the pregnancy; this hormone accounts for pregnancy tests being positive; it may also be administered therapeutically to induce ovulation.

Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (HMG): Gonadotropin (FSH and LH) preparations obtained from urine of post-menopausal women and commonly used in the treatment of infertility.

Hypothalamus: A major control center within the brain. Among many functions, it regulates the secretion of gonadotropins (FSH and LH) by the pituitary.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): An X-ray using dye to view the shape of the uterus and the fallopian tubes. If the dye passes freely from the uterus through the fallopian tubes, the fallopian tubes are considered open.

Hysteroscopy: Direct visual examination of the canal of the uterine cervix and the cavity of the uterus with an endoscope

Infertility: The inability of a couple to achieve pregnancy through frequent natural intercourse after 6-12 months of trying. It can also be applied to the inability of the woman to carry a pregnancy to term.

Implantation: The attachment of the embryo to the endometrium of the maternal uterus. This process ultimately gives rise to the placenta (respiratory and excretory system of the developing fetus).

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): The generation of embryos outside the body by mixing eggs and sperm in tubes or dishes containing defined culture media. In the treatment of human infertility, IVF defines a multi-step process including: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, insemination of eggs in culture tubes or dishes containing defined media and transfer of resulting embryos back to the uterus.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): The technique of injecting one sperm into the cytoplasm of the egg. It is used during IVF most commonly for treatment of male factor infertility.

Laparoscope: An instrument comparable to an endoscope which enables visualization of the peritoneal cavity for both diagnostic and operative management.

Laparoscopy: Visualization of reproductive organs using a fiber optic scope inserted through a small abdominal incision at surgery.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A pituitary gonadotropic hormone that plays an essential role improving the development of sex cells (both eggs and sperm). A surge of LH causes final egg maturation and ovulation.

Maturation Arrest: A condition of which sperm production stops before mature sperm develops.

Metroplasty: A surgical division of a uterine septum by operative hysteroscopy.

Morbidity: The condition of being diseased or morbid.

Neosalpingostomy: The surgical restoration of the patency of a fallopian tube.

Oligospermia: Abnormally low sperm count.

Oophorectomy: The surgical removal of the ovary.

Oocyte: The female sex cell ovulated at the end of each reproductive cycle.

Ovary: The female gonad containing the eggs (one egg per ovarian follicle). This structure also provides the chief source of estrogens and progesterone.

Ovarian Cyst: A fluid-dilled sac inside the ovary. An ovarian cyst may be found in conjunction with ovulation disorders, tumors of the ovary and endometriosis.

Ovarian Cystectomy: The surgical removal of a cyst from the ovary.

Ovarian Failure: The inability of the ovary to respond to gonadotropin hormone stimulation, usually due to the absence of follicular tissue on a genetic basis or the postmenopausal condition. Diagnosed by elevated FSH in the blood.

Ovulation: The discharge of a ripened egg, usually at about the midpoint of the menstrual cycle.

Ovulation Induction: Medical treatment to start (induce) ovulation.

Ovum: The eggs produced in the ovaries each month.

Patency: The condition of being wide open.

Pathology: The structural and functional changes in tissues and organs of the body which cause or are caused by disease.

Penis: Male organ of sexual intercourse.

Pituitary Gland: The "Master" gland that ultimately controls virtually every other endocrine gland in the body. Through gonadotropin (FSH and LH) secretion, the pituitary regulates sex cell development by testes and ovaries.

Premature Ovarian Failure: A condition where the ovary runs out of follicles before the normal age associated with menopause.

Progesterone: A hormone that plays a central role in the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Initially, it is secreted by the corpus luteum (a structure from where the egg ovulated from) to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Later, it is secreted by the placenta to maintain pregnancy.

Prostaglandins: A group of naturally occurring chemicals that stimulate contractions of the uterus and other smooth muscle.

Salpingoophorectomy: The surgical removal of the fallopian tube and ovary.

Scrotum: The sac containing the testicles, epididymis, and vas deferens.

Septate Uterus: A septum divides the uterus into two chambers.

Semen: The sperm and seminal fluids ejaculated during male orgasm.

Semen Analysis: A laboratory test used to assess semen quality, sperm quality, concentration, morphology (shape) and motility. In addition, it measures semen (fluid) volume and whether or not white blood cells are present, indicating infection.

Sperm: The male reproductive cells that carry genetic information to the female's egg.

Sperm Morphology: Part of a semen analysis test that checks the number of sperm that appear to have been formed normally.

Sperm Motility: The ability of sperm to move or "swim" towards the egg.

Spermicide: An agent that kills sperm.

Sperm Wash: A technique that separates sperm from the seminal fluid. It isolates the best sperm to be used for assisted reproductive treatments.

Testes: The male gonad, functioning to produce mature sperm as well as the hormone testosterone.

Testicular Failure: A condition in which the testes do not produce sperm or testosterone. This condition may have existed at birth or develop later in life or be caused by trauma or damage to the testicles. It may lead to male infertility.

Testosterone: The male hormone needed for the production of sperm.

Transcervical: Through the cervix

Ultrasound: A test used to visualize the reproductive organs; for example to monitor follicular development and to examine the tubes and uterus. The instrument works by bouncing sound waves off the organs. A picture displayed on a TV screen shows the internal organs.

Unexplained Infertility: Infertility where all test results are found to be normal.

Urologist: Physician who specializes in the surgical and medical treatment of disorders of the urinary and male reproductive tract.

Uterine Fibroids: Muscular growths in the wall of the uterus that may push into the uterine cavity and interfere with implantation.

Uterine Polyps: Small benign growths in the lining of the uterus that can interfere with implantation of an embryo.

Uterine Septae: A uterus the cavity of which is divided into two parts by a partion.

Vagina: The canal, in the female, from the vulva to the cervix. Female organ of sexual intercourse.

Varicocele: A common condition in which the veins that carry blood out of the scrotum become dilated. When blood pools in these veins, the temperature in the scrotum increases. This may be a cause of male infertility.

Vas Deferens: The tube that carries sperm from the testicles (epididymis) to the penis.

Vasectomy: Surgical sterilization of a man by cutting, burning or crushing their vas deferens.

Vasectomy Reversal: The surgical repair of a previous vasectomy for a man who wants to regain his fertility.

Vitrification: A process for rapid freezing of eggs or embryos to preserve future fertility potent.

Zona Pellucida: A proteinaceous barrier surrounding eggs and embryos. This is penetrated by sperm prior too fertilization.

Zygote: A fertilized egg which is not yet divided.