Technical terms made simple
Androgens – male sex hormones
Assisted hatching – slitting the external shell of the embryo for instance with a laser in order to facilitate implantation of the embryo in the uterine lining.
Chromosomes – components of the cell nucleus and carriers of genetic information. Chromosomes consist primarily of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) the actual genetic material. During cell division it is reproduced in the daughters cells. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (i.e. 46 chromosomes altogether). 22 of the chromosome pairs are not involved in determining the baby’s sex. The 23rd pair, the sex chromosome, is formed differently in men and women. Women have two X Chromosomes per nucleus and men have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome per nucleus. The chromosome of the sperm cell fertilizing the egg determines the baby’s sex.
Corpus luteum (yellow body) – what is left of the follicle after ovulation takes on a yellow color after forming the secondary follicle (“Yellow Body”).
Cryopreservation – Greek: kryo = cold, icy. With cryopreservation, egg cells in the “pronucleate stage” can be frozen and stored.
Downregulation – using drugs to reduce the body’s own hormone excretion.
Ectopic pregnancy – implantation of the embryo in one of the fallopian tubes instead of the uterine cavity.
Egg retrieval – removing the fluid in the follicle with a very fine hollow needle in order to retrieve the egg cell.
Embryo – once the DNA from the sperm and egg cells has merged, the term “embryo” is used. From the 13th week of gestation on, the developing baby is referred to as a “Fetus”.
Embryo transfer – transfer of an egg cell into the uterus after fertilization outside the body.
Endometriosis – from the Greek for “within” (endon) the “uterus” (metra). Frequent cause of infertility. Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue of the unterine lining grows outside the uterus wehre it can cause scarring.
Endomterium – well-vascularized mucous membrane periodically formed by the uterus. The embryo implants itself in the endomterium.
Estrogen – Latin: oestrus = female animal’s readiness to mate, gen = create. Estrogen is a female sex hormone formed in the ovaries and which is responsible for the buildup of the endometrium.
Fallopian tubes – funnel-shaped “converyer belt” in which the sperm cells are guided to the egg cell and the fertilized eggs are guided into the uterine cavity.
Follicles – liquid-filled group of egg cells. Follicles mature in the ovaries.
FSH – Follicle-stimulating hormone, promotes the growth and development of the egg cells.
Gametes – term used for both female and male sex cells that have inly a simple set of chromosomes prior to fertilization.
GnRH – Gonadotropin-releasing hormone. From the Greek and English: “Producing” (gonos) and “effect on” (trop). Hormone effecting the excretion of LH and FSH.
GnRH agonist – drug that inhibits the excretion of LH and FSH (after initial release of these hormones).
GnRH antagonist – from the Greek for “against” (ant). Drug preventing the excretion of the fertility hormones LH and FSH.
Gonadotropins – collective term for gonadotropic hormones of the front lobe of the pituitary gland, the placenta or the endometrium that promote and control the growth of the gonads (sex glands in which the gametes develop).
Gonadotropic – affecting the gametes, especially those of hormones.
HIV infection – Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection that can lead to AIDS.
Hormones – the body’s own carriers of information between various organs.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hcG) Outpatient – Latin: chorion = membrane surrounding the fetus gonaden = sex glands, trop = affect. Hormone used as a drug for triggering ovulation. hCG is obtained from the urine of pregnant women or is manufactured through biotechnology.
Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) – hMG is obtained from the urine of post-menopausal women and is used for ovarian stimulation.
Infertility – when a couple has regular unprotected sexual intercourse for over a year but dies not become pregnant, infertility is assumed. However this does not have to be a finale condition.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – Latin: intra = in, into, cytoplasma = cell contents. Method of assisted fertilization in which a hollow needle is used to inject a single sperm cell into an egg cell.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) – Insemination refers to the transfer of sperm cells into the vagina or uterus by means of technical assistance. With IUI the sperm cell is introduced into the uterus as close as possible to the egg cell.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) – Latin: in vitro = in glass (test tube). IVF refers to fertilization outside the body.
Laparoscopy – endoscopy of the abdominal cavity and organs. Used to explore the position, size, and condition of the abdominal organs.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) – Hormone triggering ovulation
Outpatient – treatment without admission to the hospital (opposite of inpatient).
Ovaries – paired walnut-sized female organs in which the fertilizable egg cells are produced. The ovaries from the hormones estrogen and gestagen (gesatio = pregnancy, gen =create).
Ovulation – the egg cell leaves the ovary and enters the fallopian tube.
Placenta – organ supplying nutrients to the developing fetus. After the birth, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and is expelled as the “afterbirth”.
Polycystic ovary (PCO) – from the Greek for “cyst” = pregnancy. Progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum and prepares the endometrium for implantation of the embryo.
Prolactin – Latin: lactis = milk. Hormone formed in the brain. Prolactin stimulates lactation.
TESE/MESA – if there is a complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate, it is possible to obtain sperms cells directly from the testes (TESE = testicular sperm extraction) or the epididymis (MESA = microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration).
Uterine fibroid (myoma) – benign tumor in the uterus consisting of muscle tissue. Uterine fibroids are sometimes the reason for long-term infertility r miscarriage.
Uterus – pear-shaped organ in ehich the baby is carried. The uterus consists of the cervix, the neck of the uterus and the uterine cavity. The two fallopian tubes are connected to the uterus.