Definitions of terms you may have come across when researching assisted reproductive technology

AMH stands for Anti-Müllerian Hormone, which is produced by egg containing follicles within the ovaries. AMH declines with falling egg numbers, and is absent with the onset of menopause.

Andrology is the medical specialty that deals with male reproductive health. It is often dealt with by both Reproductive and Urology specialists.

Anti-sperm antibodies bind to the cell membranes of sperm, coating them and affecting sperm function. They are produced in an auto-immune response to semen. This can reduce the chance of fertilization and prevent pregnancy.

Blastocyst is a term describing a stage in embryonic growth which an embryo reaches five or six days from fertilisation. A day 2 or 3 embryo is termed “Cleavage” stage which is the stage before. Both stages are used in implantation.

Clinical pregnancy is defined as evidence of pregnancy by clinical or ultrasound parameters (ultrasound visualisation of a gestational sac). It includes ectopic pregnancy. Multiple gestational sacs in one patient are counted as one clinical pregnancy.

Cryopreservation is the process by which embryos or eggs are frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen to enable them to be used in future treatment cycles. The eggs are specially frozen without the formation of ice crystals, which would kill the cells.

Embryology is the scientific study of the development of the embryo, from the fertilisation of the ovum to a fully developed foetus.

Embryoscope™ is a highly advanced system for monitoring the embryo while it grows in the incubator. It uses time-lapse videography, created by taking an image of the embryo every 10 minutes, to view and identify optimum embryos for implantation in a non-invasive way, without causing the damage that is associated with removing an embryo from the incubator.

Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system in which the cells that normally line the uterus grow outside the uterus. These cells cause bleeding in the pelvis during menstruation, which can cause pain, bladder and bowel symptoms, and infertility and miscarriage. It is diagnosed and treated by laparoscopic surgery.

Fresh Embryo Transfer is a procedure in which an egg is harvested during ovulation and fertilised in the lab, before being reinserted in the same menstrual cycle, and is done as part of a standard IVF or ICSI cycle.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) is an embryo transfer where, instead of using a ‘fresh’ embryo created from the patient’s current menstrual cycle, an embryo that has been cryopreserved from a previous cycle is used.

Halosperm® Test is an analysis of the integrity of sperm DNA, reporting the percentage of sperm that have fragmented DNA and are therefore non-viable.

HSG stands for Hysterosalpingogram, which is a radiological procedure where radio-opaque dye is injected into the uterus and then an X-ray taken to see if the Fallopian tubes are open.

Hysteroscopy is a procedure done under anaesthetic whereby the inside of the uterus is examined with a telescope, and any abnormality can be treated. It is usually done at the same time as laparoscopy.

Infertility is defined by the World Health Organisation as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” It describes any condition relating to male or female reproductive health that interferes with or prevents pregnancy.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is an IVF procedure in which a single sperm is injected straight into the ovum, and is used in cases of male factor infertility.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is an artificial insemination procedure in which washed, concentrated sperm is injected directly into the uterus via the vagina and is used to treat mild male factor infertility or unexplained infertility.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a procedure in which fertilisation occurs outside the body. “In Vitro” is a Latin phrase meaning “in glass,” which relates to the laboratory dishes used for fertilisation instead of the uterus.

Laparoscopy, also known as “keyhole surgery,” is a procedure used to examine and operate on the interior of the abdomen and/or pelvic cavity. The advantage of a laparoscopy is the procedure uses only small incisions and heals comparatively quickly with less post-operative pain.

MAR (Mixed Antiglobulin Reaction) test is used to detect anti sperm antibodies that prevent conception. This condition is known as “immunological infertility.”

Ovulation Induction (OI) is a procedure that stimulates ovulation, used to treat ovulatory dysfunction.

Ovulatory Dysfunction is the term that describes any abnormality of the menstrual cycle and ovulation.

Phlebotomy is the process of taking blood through a needle in the vein, for the purpose of blood testing.

Semen Analysis is the assessment of certain features of a patient’s semen to find issues that affect fertility.

Trans-vaginal Oocyte Retrieval (TVOR), sometimes referred to as TVOA, egg collection or egg pick-up (OPU), is the collection of a patient’s egg cells to be used in fertility procedures where the embryo is grown outside the uterus, such as IVF and ICSI​.

Ultrasound is a sound wave used in detecting and measuring objects, and is used extensively in medical imaging. Ultrasound examinations for fertility treatment are usually vaginal because higher frequency sound, that has less tissue penetration, can be used to see the pelvic structures in high detail.

Unexplained infertility is a fertility diagnosis made when all the investigations looking into reasons for infertility have been completed and are found to be normal. It represents the diagnosis found in about 30% of affected couples.