ZIFT – Zygote Intra Fallopian Transfer

This is similar to GIFT except the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory and replaced in the Fallopian Tube via laparoscopy the day after the sperm and eggs have been mixed.

Zona Pellucida

The outer layer of the egg that persists and surrounds the embryo until about 4-5 days after fertilisation.


Womb / Hollow muscular organ in the woman that holds and nourishes the foetus until the time of birth.


Use of high-frequency sound waves for creating an image of internal body parts. Used to monitor the development of follicles and to detect and monitor pregnancy.


The main male hormone found in the blood stream (in both women and men).

Testicular Biopsy

The removal of microscopic bits of the testicular tissue from men with very poor sperm production. Immature sperm are recovered from the tissue and injected into the egg using ICSI.


The male sex gland which produces testosterone and sperm.


An arrangement whereby a woman carries the child for a couple, with the intention that the child is handed over to the couple after birth.


The use of hormonal injections to mature many eggs in the one cycle.


Inability of a couple to conceive after a year of regular sexual intercourse, without using any form of contraception.


Absolute infertility – inability to achieve a pregnancy without special treatment such as IVF.


Male reproductive cells.

STD – Sexually Transmitted Disease

A viral or bacterial infection that is passed on through sexual activity such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. STDs can lead to infertility in some cases.


The ejaculate of the male which includes the sperm and its nutrient plasma and other secretions.

Secondary Infertility

This means that the couple has conceived in the past, with or without this having resulted in a birth, but are unable to do so again in spite of having tried for a year or more.

Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella (German measles) is a mild, febrile, highly infectious viral disease which was common in childhood prior to the advent of an effective vaccine. If contracted during early pregnancy, it could potentially cause a typical syndrome of congenital malformations


Hormone secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary after ovulation has occurred. It is responsible for preparing the uterus for pregnancy.

Premature Ovarian Failure

Premature ovarian failure (POF) is usually defined as menopause under the age of 40 and occurs in about 1% of women.

Pituitary Gland

This gland is stimulated by the hypothalamus and controls all hormonal functions. Located at the base of the brain just below the hypothalamus, it controls many major hormonal factories throughout the body, including the gonads (ovaries and testes), the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland.

PCOS – Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome

A condition characterised by a number of features:

  • lots of little follicles in the ovaries
  • excessive hair growth
  • infrequent or no ovulation
  • irregular or no periods
  • being overweight
  • abnormal hormone levels
  • Women with PCOS often have difficulty conceiving and have increased risk of miscarriage if they do conceive.


The egg or reproductive cell from the ovary. This sex cell contains the female’s genetic information.

Ovulation Induction

When fertility drugs, tablets or injections, are used to make a woman ovulate.


Discharge of a mature egg, usually at about the midpoint of the menstrual cycle.


Sexual glands of the female that produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, in which the eggs develop. There are two ovaries, one on each side of the pelvis.

Oocyte Retrieval

When mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries using a fine needle. This procedure is done vaginally and the needle is guided by ultrasound. Follicular fluid is aspirated and the egg is identified by an embryologist using a microscope.


The female reproductive cell (egg).


Infrequent periods, usually taken as 2-10 periods per year.


A female sex hormone produced by the ovaries. Oestrogen is responsible for the development of the secondary feminine sex characteristics, which include breasts, rounded hips, and pubic hair. Together with progesterone, oestrogen regulates the changes that occur with each monthly period and prepares the uterus for pregnancy.


Mumps is an acute viral illness and usually presents with inflammation of the salivary glands, particularly the parotid glands (salivary glands near the ears). This illness can also cause inflammation of other tissues, most frequently the covering and substance of the central nervous system (meningoencephalitis), next the pancreas (pancreatitis) and especially after adolescence, the ovary (oophoritis) and the testis (orchitis). The mature testis is particularly susceptible to damage from mumps which can lead to infertility.


Spontaneous loss of an embryo or foetus from the womb.

MESA – Micro Epidydimal Sperm Aspiration

A procedure whereby immature sperm is aspirated from the epidydimis. This is done in cases where the man has had a vasectomy or in men who are born without the vas deferens (the duct that transports sperm from the epidydimis into the ejaculate). Sperm extracted this way can only fertilize the egg if the ICSI procedure is used.


Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding, which in the absence of pregnancy, normally occurs about once a month.


The time a woman stops menstruating.

Male Factor

When the cause of infertility is attributed to poor sperm quality.

Luteinising Hormone (LH)

A hormone produced by the pituitary whose function is to mature and trigger the release of the egg at ovulation.

Luteal Phase

Post-ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which causes the uterine lining to thicken and this supports the implantation and growth of the embryo.

LH Surge

The release of a large amount of Luteinising hormone (LH) from the pituitary which triggers ovulation.


A surgical investigation using a telescope-like instrument to look at the pelvic organs, which can performed as part of an infertility investigation.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

The procedure by which eggs and sperm are mixed in the laboratory and the process of fertilisation occurs
outside the body.


The inability of a couple to produce children in spite of repeated attempts.


When the embryo attaches and embeds in the endometrium. This begins about seven days after fertilisation and is complete about 14 days after fertilisation.


When the couple is diagnosed as having “Idiopathic infertility” this means unexplained, ie a cause for the couple’s failure to conceive has not been identified.


See Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection


Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a problem that is sometimes seen in women who take fertility medicines that stimulate egg production.


A chemical substance which has a specific regulatory effect on the activity of a particular organ.

Home Pregnancy Test

A test a woman can use at home to test urine for the presence of human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG).


A hormone that stimulates the production of sperm or eggs.


A reproductive cell, either sperm or egg.

Follicular Phase

First half of the menstrual cycle when ovarian follicle development takes place and the egg matures.


A fluid-filled sac in the ovary which contains an egg that is released at ovulation. In healthy women, each month, an egg develops inside this follicle.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

Hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the ovary to develop a follicle for ovulation in women and sperm production in men.


The developing human from the end of the eighth week of development from fertilisation (when all major structures have begun to develop) until birth.

Folic Acid

Folic Acid is a vitamin supplement which women are recommended to take before conceiving and in early pregnancy as it reduces the risk of neural tube defects in the foetus (spina bifida).


A benign tumor of fibrous tissue in the uterus which may contribute to infertility.


Penetration of the egg by the sperm and the joining of genetic materials to result in the development of an embryo.

Fallopian Tubes

Pair of tubes leading from the ovary to the uterus which transports the egg to the uterus.


A cord-like structure in the testes where sperm are stored.


The presence of endometrial tissue (the normal uterine lining) in abnormal locations such as the Fallopian tubes, the ovaries and the peritoneal cavity.

Embryo Biopsy

The removal of one or two cells from an early embryo for diagnosing chromosomal or genetic abnormalities.


The fertilised egg and the subsequent stages of early human development.


Semen ejected from the penis during orgasm.

Ectopic Pregnancy

A pregnancy that implants outside the uterus, most commonly in the Fallopian tube.

Donor Eggs

Eggs taken from one woman and donated to another for pregnancy.


A condition which is present from birth.


A drug used to stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles.

Cleavage Arrest

The failure of an embryo to continue through to the next stage of development during cleavage.

Chorion villus sampling (CVS)

A procedure where cells are taken during a pregnancy at about 10 weeks to assess the normality of the chromosomes.


Fertilisation of a woman’s egg by a man’s sperm.


Lower section of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina.

Cervical mucus

Mucus produced by the cervix which permits passage of sperm to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This mucus changes in volume and quality at the time of ovulation.


A stage in the development of the early human embryo. The blastocyst forms four days after fertilisation and is a sphere of cells containing a fluid-filled cavity.

Basal Body Temperature

Temperature of the body at rest. A Basal Body Temperature chart is used to monitor the bodies’ natural rise in temperature after ovulation as a method of ovulation prediction or birth control.


Assisted Reproductive Technology, includes all types of infertility treatment that involves medical intervention such as donor sperm, insemination, ovulation induction, IVF, GIFT, ICSI etc.


Chemicals produced by the body to fight or attack foreign substances entering the body. Normally they prevent infection. However, if they attack the sperm or foetus, they can cause infertility. Sperm antibodies may be made by either the man or the woman.


A test where amniotic fluid is aspirated to test the foetus for chromosomal abnormalities.


Total absence of ovulation and menstruation.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination

The use of partner’s or donor’s semen sample introduced into the uterus by means of a catheter.


The sticking of ovaries, tubes, uterus, bowel and abdominal lining to one another. Adhesions affect the normal movement of these organs and can cause infertility. They can be due to pelvic surgery, tubal infections or endometriosis.


A small “cap” overlaying the head of a sperm.


Spontaneous or induced termination of pregnancy.

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