Glossary

Here is an alphabetical list of terms and abbreviations you might encounter during treatment for infertility.

Sperm: The male reproductive cell.

"Swim-up" technique: A technique, which selects and concentrates sperm that are most capable of fertilizing the egg.

ART cycle: A process in which an ART procedure is carried out, a woman has undergone ovarian stimulation or monitoring with the intent of having an ART procedure, or in the case of frozen embryos, embryos have been thawed with the intent of transferring them to a woman. A cycle startswhen a woman begins taking fertility drugs or starts ovarian monitoring.

ART (assisted reproductive technology): All treatments or procedures that involve the handling of human eggs and sperm for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy. Types of ART include IUI, IVF, ICSI, GIFT, embryo cryopreservation, egg or embryo donation, and surrogate birth.

GIFT (Gamete intra-fallopian transfer): An ART procedure that involves removing eggs from the woman's ovary, combining them with sperm, and using a laparoscope to place the unfertilized eggs and the sperm into the woman's fallopian tubes through a small incision in her abdomen. (Rarely performed in Canada.)

ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection): A procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

IVF (in vitro fertilization): An ART procedure that involves removing eggs from a woman's ovaries and fertilizing them in the laboratory. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the woman's uterus through the cervix.

Donor embryo: An embryo formed from the egg of a woman who has donated it for transfer to a woman who is unable to conceive with her own eggs (the recipient).

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

Egg retrieval (also called oocyte retrieval): A procedure to collect the eggs contained in the ovarian follicles.

Egg transfer (also called oocyte transfer): The transfer of retrieved eggs into a woman's fallopian tubes through laparoscopy. This procedure is used only in GIFT (see definition).

Embryo transfer: Placement of embryos into a woman's uterus through the cervix after IVF (see definition) or, in the case of GIFT (see definition), into her fallopian tubes.

Embryo: An egg that has been fertilized by a sperm and that has undergone one or more divisions.

Embryologist: An expert in early embryo development and in processing of eggs and sperm. Functions primarily in the in vitro fertilization laboratory as the caretaker of sperm, eggs, and embryos. Educationally prepared at the Doctorate level in Science, with hands on experience on embryology, andrology and related technologies.

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

Endometriosis: The presence of tissue similar to the uterine lining in locations outside the uterus, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and abdominal cavity.

Fertilization: The penetration of the egg by the sperm and the resulting fusion of genetic material that develops into an embryo.

Follicle: A structure in the ovaries that contains an egg.

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a fibreoptic instrument (a laparoscope) is inserted into the pelvic area through a small incision in the abdomen.

Live birth: Any infant delivered with signs of life after 28 or more weeks of gestation.

Multiple birth: A pregnancy that results in the birth of more than one infant.

Oocyte: The female reproductive cell-also called an egg or ovum.

Ovarian monitoring: The use of ultrasound and/or blood or urine tests to monitor the development of ovarian follicles.

Ovarian stimulation: The use of drugs to stimulate the ovaries to develop follicles and eggs.

Pre-embryo: A fertilized egg in the early stage of development prior to cell division.

Pregnancy test: A blood or urine test that determines the level of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone. Elevated levels of this hormone are chemical evidence of a pregnancy.

Pregnancy, Chemical: Pregnancy documented by a blood or urine test that shows a rise in the level of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone.

Pregnancy, Clinical: Pregnancy documented by the presence of a gestational sac on ultrasound.

Sperm: The male reproductive cell.

Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage): A pregnancy ending in the spontaneous loss of the embryo or fetus before 28 weeks of gestation.

Stillbirth: An infant delivered without signs of life after 28 or more weeks of gestation.

Stimulated cycle: An ART cycle in which a woman receives drugs to stimulate her ovaries to produce more follicles.

Tubal factor: A cause of infertility related to structural or functional damage to one or both fallopian tubes.

Ultrasound: High frequency sound waves. A non-invasive technique for visualizing the follicles in the ovaries and the gestational sac or fetus in the uterus. Can be performed either transabdominal or transvaginal.

Unexplained cause of infertility: Infertility for which no cause has been determined despite a comprehensive evaluation.

Unstimulated cycle: An ART cycle in which the woman does not receive drugs to stimulate her ovaries to produce more follicles. Instead, follicles develop naturally.

Uterine factor: A cause of infertility related to defects in the uterus.

Washed sperm: Sperm, which is washed to reduce the risk of infection (because the cervical mucus is by-passed).