Common Fertility Terms


Please see below for a list of common terms used in fertility assessments and treatments and their definitions.

Glossary of Terms

Artifical Insemination

A group of fertility procedures involving the introduction of sperm into the female reproductive tract without intercourse.

Assisted Hatching

The process of making a small hole in the shell (zona pellucida) surrounding the embryo prior to embryo transfer to promote its implantation in the uterus.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

A variety of fertility procedures (including in vitro fertilization) that involve manipulating sperm and eggs to achieve pregnancy.


A stage in embryo development reached 5 days after fertilization.

Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation

Stimulation of the ovaries with fertility medications to help them grow and release multiple eggs.

Corpus Luteum

The hormone producing ovarian cyst that forms from the follicle after it releases the egg.


Freezing of sperm, eggs or embryo so as to preserve them for use at a later date.

Day-3 Hormones

Measurement of follicle-stimulating hormone and estradiol on the second or third day of a regular menstrual cycle, which provides an assessment of the ovarian reserve.

Diminished Ovarian Reserve

The inability to respond appropriately to fertility medications, both in terms iof the number of follicles and the health of the eggs.

Donor-Egg IVF

An extremely successful type of on vitro fertilization procedure using the eggs from a young woman and with the resulting embryo(s) transferred into the recipient.

Ectopic Pregnancy

A pregnancy located outside the uterine cavity, usually in the fallopian tube, though it can occur in the ovary or abdomen (rarely).

Egg Collection

A minimally invasive procedure usually performed transvaginally under minimal sedation in which eggs are removed from the ovaries.

Embryo Biopsy

Embryo biopsy is used for patients needing PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) or PGS (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis). Our embryologists are highly trained in the various techniques of embryo biopsy with high success rates.

Embryo Transfer

The placement of embryos created via in vitro fertilization into the uterus or, more rarely, the fallopian tube.


A scientist involved in the fertilization and culture of human eggs and embryos.

Endometrial Receptivity Assay

A test that determines whether or not the patient’s uterus lining is receptive to her embryo.


A steroid hormone produced within the growing follicle that induces the growth of the endometrium.

Fallopian Tube

The conduit that serves as an incubator following release and fertilization of the egg.


The process by which an egg and a sperm combine and create an embryo.

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

A protein hormone produced within the pituitary gland at the base of the brain that promotes the growth and development of follicles, leading eventually to ovulation.


Fluid filled structures within the ovary that contain an egg.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

Placement of previously croypreserved embyros into the uterus or, more rarely, the fallopian tube.

Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Analog

Medication that initially causes the pituitary gland to release it.

Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Antagonist

Medication that quickly interferes with the production of follicle-stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland, preventing premature ovulation during a treatment cycle.


Fertility medications containing follicle-stimulating hormone alone or in combination with luteinizing hormones that are used to induce follicle growth during fertility treatments.


An injectable medication that is used to prevent blood clot formation.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)

A placental hormone produced in pregnancy that is the basis for blood and urine pregnancy testing.


Obstruction of the fallopian tube at the fimbria, resulting in a fluid-filled and dilated tube.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

An x-ray procedure during which a radio-opaque dye is injected into the uterine cavity to assess the fallopian tubes for patency, as well as the contour of the uterine cavity itself.


The inability of a couple to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

The injection of a single sperm into a single egg in an attempt to fertilize the egg in in vitro fertilization cases when fertilization might not otherwise occur.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

A fertility treatment in which the sperm are washed then placed within the uterine cavity.


IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization and literally means “the fertilization of eggs with sperm in glass,” which translates to fertilization outside of the body in the laboratory. There are two types of IVF: (1) stimulated cycle IVF, and (2) Natural Cycle IVF (NCIVF).


An outpatient surgical procedure that uses a telescope and a video monitor to visualize the internal organs.


An outpatient surgical procedure that is performed through an open abdominal incision.

Luteal Suppression

A stimulation protocol that involves suppression of the pituitary gland and ovary prior to initiating stimulation with fertility medications.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

A pituitary hormone that induces ovulation in a mature follicle.


The last menstrual period that a woman ever experiences.


An early stage of embryonic development in which the embryo consists of a solid ball of cells; the morula is formed prior to the blastocyst.


An abnormally low concentration of sperm in a semen analysis.

Oral Contraceptive Pills

Daily medications, usually containing both synthetic estrogen and progesterone, that act as very effective contraceptives by suppressing follicle growth and ovulation ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – ovarian enlargement, abdominal fluid retention, and dehydration following the use of fertility medication to induce the growth of multiple follicles.

Ovarian Reserve

The fertility potential of a woman as determined by both the number of her ovarian follicles and the health of the eggs located within those follicles.


A female reproductive organ that contains eggs within multiple follicles and produces reproductive hormones including estrogen and progesterone.


The release of an egg from the ovarian follocle.

Ovulation Induction

The use of fertility medications to restore normal ovulation in a woman who does not have regular cycles.


The years preceding the last menstrual cycle characterized by increasingly irregular cycles, hot flashes, and low estrogen levels.

Personalized Embryo Transfer

Refers to the optimal timing of a patient’s embryo transfer to best suit her needs.

Pituitary Gland

An organ located at the base of the brain. It is often referred to as the

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

A common gynecologic disorder resulting from insulin resistance and leading to irregular periods, acne, excessive facial hair and infertility.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

Evaluation of the genetic status of an embryo prior to its implantation, usually through the removal of 1 to 2 cells at the 8-cell stage of development. The isolated cells can then be analyzed for specific chromosomal conditions and other genetic disorders.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS)

An evaluation that is similar to preimplantation genetic diagnosis but is used to screen embryos in fertility patients for aneuploidy instead of a specific genetic disease.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

Irregular or absent menstrual cycles before the age of 40 years old, resulting from a marked loss of ovarian flooicles as evidenced by a high blood level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH > 30 IU).


A steroid hormone produced by the ovary and then by the placenta during pregnancy. It is necessary for the successful implantation and development of an embryo.

Reproductive Endocrinologist

A physician who specializes in disorders of reproduction, including infertility.

Semen Analysis

A laboratory test used to assess male infertility. It usually includes evaluation of the sperm volume , pH, concentration, motility and morphology in a sample.


Vitrification refers to a new technique of freezing embryos or eggs, whereby they are ‘flash frozen’ to absolute zero temperature to reduce the chance that embryos will suffer damage from ice crystal formation or “freezer burn”. This means that embryos now have a higher likelihood of surviving the freezing and thawing process, which results in higher pregnancy rates for frozen embryo transfer cycles.

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