It is recommended to keep this page open while you complete the courses, allowing you to refer to key terms and definitions as you progress through the content.


Amenorrhea: Absence of menstruation, diagnosed when a woman does not have a period for three months or more.

Anovulation: A condition in which a woman does not ovulate or rarely ovulates.

Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH): AMH predicts a woman’s remaining egg supply (ovarian reserve). AMH is produced by the granulosa cells in the ovarian follicles. AMH blood levels indicate the size of the pool of follicles remaining; therefore, as a woman ages, the size of the ovarian follicle pool decreases and the AMH level also decreases, becoming undetectable at the time of menopause.

Artificial reproductive technology (ART): Technology that improves fertility and promotes pregnancy. This umbrella term covers infertility treatments such as IVF that process the egg and sperm.

Azoospermia: Azoospermia is the complete absence of sperm in a man’s semen. It occurs in 5-10% of men who seek fertility treatment.


Beta hCG: A beta, or beta pregnancy test, is a blood test for the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Levels of hCG increase steadily in the early stages of pregnancy, showing physicians that a healthy pregnancy is progressing.

Biochemical pregnancy: The medical term used to describe a very early miscarriage, which usually happens in the first couple of weeks after an embryo has been transferred to the womb.

Blastocyst: Five to six days after a zygote is created by the fusing of an egg and a sperm, it becomes a blastocyst, a multi-cell mass, and enters the uterus.


Chemical pregnancy: Another term to describe a very early miscarriage, which occurs 1-2 weeks after an embryo has been transferred to the womb.

Clinical Pregnancy: A pregnancy that has been confirmed by two things: an ultrasound showing either a heartbeat or gestational sac (a fluid-filled structure in the uterus) and high levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG.

Clomiphene citrate/Clomid (product name): A fertility drug used to trigger follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which can jump-start the ovulation process.

Controlled ovarian stimulation (COS): The process of stimulating ovulation using fertility drugs (such as Clomid or Metformin).

Corpus luteum: After an egg is released during ovulation, the structure it leaves behind is called the corpus luteum. It produces progesterone, which helps sustain a new pregnancy.

Cryopreservation: The process of freezing eggs or embryos from an ART cycle for potential future use.


Diminished ovarian reserve: This condition means that the ability of the ovaries to produce eggs is reduced.

Down-regulation: This is one of the first steps in IVF. You will receive a drug that temporarily “switches off” your ovariesto better control ovulation and egg maturation during treatment. Fertility drugs are used to “switch on” your ovaries later. This process is also called “down regging,” and the process is a “down-regulation cycle.”


Estrogen (E2): E2 refers to estradiol, or your level of estrogen. The estrogen level correlates directly with the number of follicles in your ovaries, helping physicians to estimate how many eggs you will have for retrieval during your cycle.

Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus.

Egg: A female reproductive cell, also called an oocyte or ovum.

Egg retrieval (ER), Egg collection: An IVF treatment step in which eggs are surgically removed from the ovaries for use or storage.

Embryo: An embryo is created when the sperm meets, penetrates, fuses with and fertilizes the egg, forming a single cell. The embryo then divides and develops into a multi-cell cluster. Further divisions create a morula and then a blastocyst. 

Embryo transfer: The procedure of placing an embryo into a woman’s uterus during in vitro fertilization (IVF).


Fallopian tubes: Two hollow tubes on either side of the uterus. The egg and sperm meet in one of the tubes to begin the fertilization process.

Fertilization: The penetration of the egg by the sperm and the combining of genetic material, which may result in pregnancy if the fertilized egg implants in the uterus.

Fetus: The embryo is called a fetus from the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth.

Follicle: A tiny fluid-filled sac in the ovaries that contains a developing egg.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): FSH is released by the brain to stimulate the ovarian follicles (structures within the ovaries, each containing a maturing egg) to grow and develop.

Frozen embryo transfer (FET): IVF treatment in which cryogenically frozen embryos are thawed and transferred into the uterus for gestation.


Gamete: A reproductive cell, either a sperm or an egg.

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): This ART procedure extracts a woman’s eggs, mixes them with sperm and immediately uses a catheter to place them into her fallopian tube to fertilize. This is a rarely used alternative to traditional IVF.

Gestational carrier: A surrogate who carries a baby not genetically related to her; another couple's embryo is transferred to her uterus, she becomes pregnant and she gives birth to the baby.

Gestational sac: A fluid-filled structure that develops within the uterus early in pregnancy. The fetus grows inside the gestational sac.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): A hormone that is involved in triggering ovulation.


Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Levels of hCG increase steadily in the early stages of pregnancy, showing physicians that a healthy pregnancy is progressing. A beta pregnancy test specifically looks for and measures hCG.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): An exam that determines the condition of the fallopian tubes and uterus. When an HSG is performed, dye is placed through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes. An x-ray determines if the uterine cavity is normal and the tubes are open. This is the best exam for viewing the tubes, and it displays the shape and contour of the uterus.

Hysteroscopy (HSC): 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.


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): A fertility treatment used when sperm count is too low or sperm quality is too poor to effectively penetrate the egg on its own. An embryologist selects a single healthy sperm and injects it directly into the center of the egg. This has been a highly effective treatment for male factor infertility.

In vitro fertilization (IVF): A method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. If the egg is fertilized and the cells begin to divide, the resulting embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus, where it will hopefully implant in the uterine lining and further develop into a fetus.

Implantation: Within 6 to 12 days after an egg is fertilized, it implants in (attaches to) the lining of the uterus.

Infertility: Medically, if a woman is under age 35, she and her partner are experiencing infertility if they have not conceived after having 12 months of unprotected sex. If the woman is 35 or older, they are diagnosed with infertility after six months of trying.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): A procedure involving placing sperm directly into a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. 


Laparoscopy: A procedure that involves insertion of a narrow, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen, allowing doctors to inspect various reproductive organs.

Luteinizing hormone (LH): LH is produced by the gonadotropin cells in the pituitary gland. In women, the rise of LH (known as the “LH surge”) triggers ovulation, or the release of an egg into a fallopian tube.

Luteal phase (LP): The time between ovulation and menstruation (also called the two-week wait)

LH surge: A surge of luteinizing hormone helps the follicle rupture and the egg break through the surface of the ovary during ovulation. You can use an ovulation predictor kit, which detects the surge in LH in your urine, indicating that ovulation is likely within the next 12 to 24 hours.


Male factor infertility: When the cause of a couple's infertility is due to problems in the man or when it contributes to existing fertility problems in the woman. 

Miscarriage (also called spontaneous abortion): A pregnancy ending in the spontaneous loss of the embryo or fetus before 20 weeks of gestation.

Morphology: The size and shape of sperm. 

Motility: Sperm's ability to move.


Natural cycle IVF: An IVF procedure that is done using your natural menstrual cycle, without fertility drugs to influence natural egg production.


Oligozoospermia (also oligospermia): A condition in which a man has very few sperm, causing male factor infertility.

Oocyte: Another term for the female reproductive cell, also called an egg.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): A rare complication of ovarian stimulation to create egg growth. OHSS causes a woman to develop fluid in the abdomen and enlarged ovaries.

Ovarian reserve: The capacity of a woman's ovaries to produce healthy eggs.

Ovarian stimulation: The use of medications to stimulate the ovaries to develop eggs.

Ovulation: When an ovary releases a mature egg; a monthly occurrence that happens midway through the menstrual cycle in most women.

Ovulation predictor kit or test: The home test strips used to predict ovulation.

Ovum: Another term for the female reproductive cell, also called an egg.


Progesterone (P4): P4 is measured to determine the following: if the woman has ovulated, when ovulation occurred, if the woman has/had an ectopic pregnancy or if the woman had a miscarriage. Progesterone levels will surge before ovulation and should continue to rise if you become pregnant.

Prolactin: The pituitary gland hormone that promotes the woman’s milk production after giving birth.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A disorder in which the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male hormones and develop many small cysts. These hormonal imbalances can prevent ovulation.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): A state-of-the-art procedure used in conjunction with IVF to select embryos for transfer to the uterus that are free of chromosomal abnormalities and specific genetic disorders.

Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS): Screens embryos for missing or additional chromosomes (aneuploidy), which is a leading cause of implantation failure or miscarriage. PGS aims to identify abnormal embryos so they will not be implanted, leaving chromosomally normal embryos to be transferred in an attempt to achieve a successful pregnancy.

Preconception genetic screening: Tests prospective parents for over 100 different diseases and syndromes. Genetic screening tests for traits that are common in certain ethnic groups, traits that are recessive and traits that may have some likelihood of causing serious diseases in affected offspring.


Reproductive endocrinologist (RE): An obstetrician/gynecologist (ob/gyn) who has taken additional years of training to specialize in reproductive endocrine disorders and infertility.

Retrograde ejaculation: A male condition in which semen enters the bladder during ejaculation instead of leaving the penis.

Round spermatid nucleus injection (RSNI): An experimental fertilization technique in which immature sperm cells are removed from the testicles and the genetic material is injected into an egg.

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL): Two or more consecutive miscarriages (spontaneous pregnancy losses) that occur before the gestations reach 20 weeks. Recurrent miscarriages can be attributed to a variety of factors, including genetic defects, an abnormally shaped uterus, fibroids, scar tissue, hormonal imbalances or other conditions.


Semen analysis (SA): An examination that assesses a man's sperm count, morphology and motility.

Sonohysterogram: An ultrasound test used to evaluate the uterus.

Sperm: The male reproductive cell produced in the testes and found in semen.

Sperm washing: The official term for separating individual sperm from semen. For IVF, this is usually performed after the woman has had her eggs collected during ICSI treatment.


Testicular epididymal sperm aspiration (TESA): A simple procedure in which sperm is aspirated from the testicles using a needle. A man may undergo this procedure when his sperm does not exit his penis during ejaculation, or if he has had a vasectomy.

Testicular sperm extraction (TESE): This minor surgical procedure removes a small sample of testicular tissue in order to retrieve sperm for use in an IVF cycle.

Testosterone: A male sex hormone produced in the testicles that aids in the production of sperm.

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH): An important hormone in the human reproductive cycle and therefore of particular interest to ART treatments.

Tubal factor infertility: Tubal factor infertility is either a complete or partial blockage and/or scarring of the fallopian tubes, which causes infertility (since either sperm are blocked from meeting the egg or the egg is unable to move to the uterus).


Unexplained infertility: A diagnostic category used when a man, woman or couple is experiencing infertility, but no cause of it is found.

Uterus/Womb: The main female reproductive organ. The fetus develops in the womb during gestation.

Ultrasound (US): The US test assesses ovarian reserve and detects abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus and other structures in the pelvis.


Zygote: The fertilized egg in the fallopian tube.