Glossary of Terms

Along your journey, you may come across a number of scientific terms of acronyms. Our aim is to make things as easy as possible for you. 

That's why we've compiled a glossary of terms below.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z




Amenorrhea: Absence of menstrual periods

Annovulatory/Annovulation: Absence of ovulation

Anti Mullerian hormone (AMH): a hormone secreted by developing eggs in the ovary. The levels of this hormone is used to indicate egg reserves

Artificial insemination: A procedure in which sperm are inserted directly into a vagina or uterus

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):  Procedures that help unite an egg and sperm outside the body in the laboratory

Asthenozoospermia: Sperm with poor motility

Antisperm antibodies: Sticky proteins on sperm causing immobilisation

Azoospermia: Complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate


Basal body temperature (BBT): A body temperature reading which could be used to chart ovulation when checked daily

Blastocyst: The early stage of an embryo that is 4-5 days old and is a hollow ball of cells whose wall is comprised of a single layer of cells; the blastocyst is the liquid-filled sphere that implants in the wall of the uterus during implantation

Blastocyst transfer: An embryo that has developed to five days and is transferred into the uterus

Bifidobacterium: a genus of gram-positive, nonmotile, often branched anaerobic bacteria. They are ubiquitous inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract though strains have been isolated from the vagina and mouth

Breastfeeding: When a baby extracts breast milk from the mother's breasts


Cervix: The opening to the uterus

Cervical mucous: A fluid that enhances the transport of the sperm into the endometrial cavity

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): is an antioxidant that your body produces naturally. Your cells use CoQ10 for growth and maintenance. Levels of CoQ10 in your body decrease as you age

Calcium: vital for making your baby's bones and teeth

Clomid: A drug given to help stimulate ovulation

Conceive: To initiate a pregnancy, which is what happens when a sperm fertilizes an egg

Conception: When a sperm and egg join to form a single cell, usually in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg travels into the uterus, where it implants in the lining

Contraception: Methods to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant

Contraction: The strong, rhythmic tightening of the uterus during labor. Regular strong and painful contractions dilate the cervix and push the baby through the birth canal


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): A long molecule that contains our unique genetic code

DNA fragmentation: Sperm DNA fragmentation is when the DNA within the sperm is damaged/breaks

Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR): Reflects a decrease in quantity and/or quality of eggs

Donor eggs: Eggs donated to be fertilised for another recipient



Ectopic pregnancy: A pregnancy in which a fertilised egg begins to develop outside the uterus normally used in reference to a pregnancy that develops in the fallopian tube

Egg collection: A procedure performed to collect the eggs produced from an IVF/ICSI cycle. This can be performed under sedation or a General Anaesthetic

Egg donation: A woman donates eggs through IVF/IVCSI treatment, to another woman (recipient)

Embryo: An organism in its early development stage. Formative stages of development from fertilisation to 8 weeks

Embryo transfer: A procedure following IVF/ICSI in which the embryos are replaced back into the uterus

Endometriosis: A condition in which the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside of the uterine cavity.  Often, this tissue is found in the pelvic cavity attached to the ovary or fallopian tubes.  It can be a cause of infertility in women

Endometrium: The lining of the uterus which is shed.  The lining of the uterus that grows throughout the menstrual cycle and is shed in the monthly menstrual cycle if an embryo does not implant

Estrogen: A female hormone secreted chiefly by the ovaries that stimulates the development of female secondary sex characteristics and promotes the growth and maintenance of the female reproductive system

Egg: A female's reproductive cell produced by the ovary and fertilized by sperm to form an embryo. Also called an ovum

Embryonic stage: The second through eighth week after conception

Episiotomy: An incision made in the perineum to enlarge the vaginal opening just before the emergence of the baby's head


Fallopian tubes: Tubes connected to the uterus and positioned near the ovaries.  It is here that fertilisation of the egg and sperm occurs

Fertilisation: Sperm penetrating the egg which can lead to pregnancy

Finding it difficult (FID): A term used to characterise those struggling to conceive

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the growth of the egg-containing follicles in the ovary.  In males it contributes to the production of sperm

Follicles: A fluid filled sac in the ovary in which an egg grows and develops. Although the egg is microscopic, follicles can be visualised by ultrasound

Follicular tracking: Scanning a woman during a natural cycle for ovulation

Folate: also known as vitamin B₉ and folacin, is one of the B vitamins. Manufactured folic acid, which is converted into folate by the body

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A frozen embryo transfer (FET) is part of the IVF process. Embryos from a previous cycle are frozen and placed in the uterus for implantation. The process of FET has greatly improved over the years and we are now seeing high success rates using FET

Fibre: a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot break down and so it passes through our gut into our large intestine (or colon). It is found naturally in plant foods like wholegrains, beans, nuts, fruit and vegetables and is sometimes added to foods or drinks

Fetus: The name given to a baby in utero from eight weeks of development until birth

Folic acid: This B vitamin, found in prenatal vitamins and its natural form, folate, found in green, leafy vegetables, prevents anemia and has been shown to reduce incidence of neural tube defects such as spina bifida



Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT): An assisted reproductive technique in which sperm and eggs are removed, combined together and placed into the fallopian tubes

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (Gn-RH): A releasing hormone responsible for the release of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone from the anterior pituitary which helps to stimulate ovulation



Hormone: A chemical secretion that the body produces to stimulate or slow down various body functions

Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which a thin instrument is inserted into the uterus, allowing the doctor to see 

Hydrosalpinx: is the blockage of a woman's fallopian tube caused by a fluid buildup and dilation of the tube at its end



Immune system: The protective system of the body that defends against infection and disease

Implantation: For a pregnancy to continue developing the embryo needs to implant into the lining of the womb, the endometrium

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF): A procedure that involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilising them in the laboratory outside the body.  The resulting embryos are then replaced back into the woman’s womb through the cervix

Infertility: The inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term

Inositol: or more precisely myo-inositol, is a carbocyclic sugar that is abundant in the brain and other mammalian tissues; it mediates cell signal transduction in response to a variety of hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors and participates in osmoregulation

Insulin: Insulin regulates the level of glucose in the blood and ensures that enough is taken in by the body cells for nourishment

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): Sperm and eggs are retrieved from both partners. A single sperm is injected directly into an egg, then the fertilised egg is implanted into the woman's uterus

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): An artificial insemination procedure wheres perm is directly placed into a woman's uterus at the time they are ovulating








Labor: The process of childbirth, beginning with the rhythmic contractions of the uterine muscles, which open the cervix to allow a baby to be born, and ending with the expulsion of the placenta

Laparoscopy: Keyhole surgery in which a small instrument [laparoscope] is inserted through the abdominal wall so that the pelvic organs can clearly be seen

Lactobacillus: Lactobacillus are characterized by their ability to produce lactic acid as a by-product of glucose metabolism

Luteinizing hormone (LH): A hormone that triggers ovulation

Luteal phase: A stage in the menstrual cycle, which happens after ovulation and before your period starts. During this time, the lining of your uterus normally gets thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy

Lycopene: is a powerful antioxidant that might help protect cells from damage

L-Arginine: an amino acid which, like Vitamin E can improve blood flow and raise progesterone levels as well as increasing endometrial thickness



Menstrual cycle: Normally a 28 day cycle in which ovulation occurs around day 14 and if fertilisation does not occur, results in a bleed around day 28

Miscarriage: Spontaneous loss of a viable embryo or fetus in the womb

Midwife: A person with training and professional experience who provides care to women during pregnancy and through labor and delivery. Midwives usually take a holistic and woman-focused approach to pregnancy and childbirth; many work with the backup support of a medical doctor

Morning sickness: Nausea, vomiting and food and smell aversions, that affects more than 70 percent of pregnant women. Morning sickness, which can occur any time of day, usually begins at four to eight weeks gestation and subsides by week 14 or 16


Neonatal: The time from a baby's birth to four weeks of age

National Health Service (NHS): provides health care for all UK citizens based on their need for medical care (universal health care)



Oestrogen: A hormone that aids the thickening of the endometrium lining.  It is also produced in small quantities in the male

Oligozoospermia: Low numbers of sperm in the ejaculate

Ovarian cysts: Sacs filled with fluid or semisolid material that develops on or within the ovary during the time of ovulation.  Most cysts are benign and disappear spontaneously without treatment

Ovary: The female reproductive organs that produce eggs and estrogen on a monthly basis under hormonal influence from pituitary gland

Ovulation: The release of the egg (ovum) from the ovarian follicle

Ovulation induction: Medical treatment performed to initiate ovulation

Omega-3 fatty acids: Essential fatty acids such as DHA. DHA is a major component of the brain and retina and is essential for proper brain growth and eye development in a fetus and young baby. Eating a diet rich in DHA during pregnancy and while nursing is extremely important

Oxytocin: A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. When released, oxytocin causes uterine contractions. Pitocin is a synthetic form of the hormone


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): An endocrine disorder affecting the function of the ovaries

Premenstrual tension (PMT): These are symptoms arising from hormonal changes, normally occurring a week before menstrual bleed. They can include irritability, tearfulness and mood swings

Progesterone: A female hormone secreted by the corpus luteum in the ovaries during the second half of a woman’s cycle.  It thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare for the implantation of a fertilised egg

Pronuculate egg: Fertilised egg

Prenatal: before birth; during or relating to pregnancy

Postpartum: The postpartum period can be divided into three distinct stages; the initial or acute phase, 8–19 hours after childbirth; subacute postpartum period, which lasts two to six weeks, and the delayed postpartum period, which can last up to eight months

Perinatal: The time before, during, and immediately following birth

Perineal massage: Long recommended by midwives, perineal massage may help stretch the perineum in preparation for childbirth, minimize stinging when the baby's head passes through the vaginal opening, and may help avoid an episiotomy or tear. After thoroughly washing your hands, insert the thumbs or index fingers into the vagina, press downward (toward the rectum) and then slide the fingers across the bottom and up the sides of the perineum

Placenta: A pancake-shaped organ that develops in the uterus and provides nutrients and oxygen for the fetus and eliminates its waste products. The placenta attaches to the uterine wall. The baby is connected to the placenta with the umbilical cord. The expelling of the placenta after the baby is born is called the third stage of labor

Postnatal period: The time following delivery until four to six weeks after birth








Secondary infertility: When a woman is unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after already having had a child

Sperm: The gamete that contains the genetic material of the male

Sperm count: One of the parameter’s that is checked in a semen sample i.e. the number of sperm present in the ejaculate

Sperm donation: Donation of sperm, from another person, to help couples conceive

Spermatogenesis: The production of sperm

Sperm motility: Another parameter that it checked in the semen sample.  It is the ability of the sperm to swim to the egg that enables fertilisation to occur.

Sperm morphology:The size and shape of sperm

Supplements: Supplements are nutrient-packed products designed to be taken alongside a healthy, balanced diet

Stretch marks: Discolored linear patterns that result from stretching of the skin. In pregnancy, stretch marks, also known as striae, may appear on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks and legs; they usually fade slowly after delivery


Testosterone: This hormone aids the production of sperm.  It is also found in smaller quantities in women

Thyroida small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe (trachea). It produces hormones that affect things such as your heart rate and body temperature. Having too much of these hormones can cause unpleasant and potentially serious problems that may need treatment

Trimester: A time span of three months. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters, each approximately 13 to 14 weeks long. Generally speaking, each trimester is marked by different phases of fetal development

Trying to conceive (TTC): A term used to describe those actively trying to fall pregnant


Ultrasound: A scan used to see the follicles in the ovary and pregnancy in the uterus. This may be done either through the abdomen or through the vagina

Uterus: The main female reproductive organ (womb)



Vaginal microbiome: The microorganisms that colonize the vagina

Varicocele: When veins become enlarged inside the scrotum, that may affect the quality and the production of sperm

Vitamin A: Plays an important role in ensuring a healthy immune system, cell membranes, vision, growth and reproduction

Vitamin B: Helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, and is also needed to make DNA. (e.g: folate)

Vitamin C: Protects cells and helps keep them healthy. It's found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, and a balanced diet can provide all the vitamin C you need

Vitamin D: Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to summer sunlight (from late March/early April to the end of September)

Vitamin E: An antioxidant which has been demonstrated to increase endometrial thickness. Also works to improve blood flow and raise progesterone levels

Vaginal birth: The birth of a baby through the birth canal, as opposed to a cesarean section, which is the birth of a baby through a surgical incision in the abdomen and uterus











Zygote: The fertilized egg before it begins to divide and grow into an embryo

Zinc: is vital for many of the functions of the body, particularly cell growth and division which makes zinc essential during pregnancy

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