Glossary

0-9

5-8-cell stage embryo - An embryo at the very early stages of development, when it consists of only 5 to 8 cells.

A

Alkalinization - The process of making a substance or solution alkaline (having a pH greater than 7).

Amniocentesis - A medical procedure, during which amniotic fluid is drawn with a needle for the diagnosis of possible fetal genetic abnormalities. It is performed between 14-16 weeks of pregnancy.

Aneuploidy - Presence of abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell. For instance, having 45 or 47, instead of the expected 46 chromosomes.

Anovulation / Anovulatory infertility - When the ovaries fail to release an egg during a menstrual cycle (25-28 days). Persisting anovolulation causes infertility.

Antibodies - An immune-system protein that can specifically recognize and neutralize a pathogen, such as bacteria and viruses.

Apoptosis - It is a cell's programmed cell death, after its life cycle has come to an end. 

Auto-antibodies - An immune-system protein or antibody that attacks a person's own tissues or organs.

Auto-immune condition - When a person's immune system attacks and destroys healthy tissues or organs, as a result of a malfunction.

Azoospermia - The complete absence of sperm in the semen.

B

Baseline investigations - A starting-point comprehensive examination that is intended to find what happens in both a man's and a woman's body in relation to their fertility. The results from the baseline investigations form the basis for the treatment that we will recommend.

Blastocyst / Blastocyst stage - An embryo at the very early stages of development, when it is only 5-6 days old. The blastocyst consists of an outer layer (trophoblast layer) of cells that will eventually form the placenta, and a small number of inner cells that will form the fetus.

Blood workup - Comprehensive laboratory analysis of a blood sample for determining levels of reproductive and pregnancy hormone levels.

C

Catheter - A thin tube that can be connected to a number of medical devices and inserted to the body serving a variety of functions.

Cerebral palsy - It is the general term for a number of neurological conditions characterized by poor muscular and movement co-ordination.

Cervical culture - It is a laboratory test that identifies whether there is an infection in the cervix.

Cervical dysplasia - A pre-cancerous condition caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and characterized by the presence of abnormal cells on the cervix. These are not cancerous yet, but if they are left untreated they will eventually lead to cervical cancer. 

Cervical factor infertility - Infertility caused by a problem with the cervix.

Cervical stenosis - A condition characterized by a narrowing at the opening of the uterus.

Cervix - The neck at the lower end of the womb.

Chemiluminescence - The emission of a measurable amount of light as a result of a chemical reaction.

Chromosome, chromosomal, chromosomally - The genetic material (DNA) in every cell of the human body is organized in 46 small structures called chromosomes. They contain the units of DNA, the genes. Chromosomal, adjective; chromosomally, adverb.

Chromosomal inversion - An inversion can happen when a chromosome breaks in two places. The resulting piece of broken chromosome can be re-inserted back in its position but in reverse orientation.

Chromosomal translocation - A translocation between two chromosomes can happen when part of one chromosome becomes rearranged with a part from another chromosome, resulting in a chromosomal abnormality.

Chronic hypertension - A long-term condition characterized by higher than normal blood pressure.

Cleavage stages - In embryology, a cleavage is a cellular division in the early embryo.

Corpus luteum - After ovulation, the follicle undergoes some changes becoming the corpus luteum. It is responsible for progesterone and estrogen production.

Cryptorchidism - Absence of one or both of the testes from the scrotum, due to birth defect.

Cycle monitoring - It involves a series of transvaginal ultrasound tests, combined with blood workup for the monitoring of the menstrual cycle of a woman (specifically, the production and maturation of an egg).

Cystic fibrosis - It is an inherited pulmonary disease that also affects the development of the reproductive system in men.

D

DNA - The genetic material, where all the biological information is formed.

DNA fragmentation - Small breaks or separations that affect the integrity of the DNA structure.

Doppler - An ultrasound-based test that uses sound waves in order to assess blood flow through arteries and veins.

Down syndrome - Also known as trisomy 21, it is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of a third, full or partial copy of the chromosome 21. It is characterized by mild-to-moderate learning disability, physical growth delay and recognizable facial features.

E

Egg accumulation - The process of collecting and cryoprerseving eggs over a number of menstrual cycles, for increasing changes of fertilization with a natural-cycle or minimal-stimulation In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Endometrium / endometrial cavity - The lining of the womb. It is a dynamic layer of cells that gets ready to accept the early embryo and to support it in case of a pregnancy. Alternatively, it sheds itself during the menstrual bleeding and reforms during the following menstrual cycle.

Endorphins - Brain chemicals produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland. They trigger a positive feeling and contribute to a reduced receptiveness of pain.

Epididymis / epididymides - A coiled tube at the back of the testes, where sperms are stored and matured.

Euploid - Having a balanced number of chromosomes, which are 46 for humans.

F

Fallopian tube - Small-diameter tubes that stem from either side of the uterus reaching out to the ovaries. Normally, each month, an egg is released from one or the other ovary into a fallopian tube and from there to the uterus.

Fibroid / submucosal fibroid - Non-cancerous growths in the muscular wall of the uterus; they can cause pain and heavy periods.

Folic acid - Also known as vitamin B9, and it is really important for the development of a healthy baby. It promotes normal cell division in early pregnancy and prevents from developmental abnormalities, such as spina bifida.

Follicle / follicular - Structures which contain the eggs. They are classified depending on their size and maturation status (preanthral, anthral etc). A follicle is formed by the granullosa cells and the egg. Granullosa cells surround the egg to provide the most adequate hormone micro environment.

G

Gene - The basis of genetic inheritance. A gene is a small region of DNA that encodes a functional protein product within a chromosome.

Gestational diabetes - A type of diabetes that manifests during pregnancy. In diabetes the body has higher levels of blood sugar, because of slow metabolic processes.

Gestational hypertension - A type of high blood pressure that develops only in pregnancy.

H

Hepatitis B - Infectious chronic or acute disease of the liver that is caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).

Hyperprolactinemia - A condition characterized by higher-than-normal levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood. Prolactin is responsible for the production of milk after pregnancy.

Hypothyroidism / hyperthyroidism - In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland is underactive, produces less thyroid hormone (thyroxine), and slows down the body's metabolism. In hyperthyroidism, the opposite happens. The thyroid gland is overactive, produces more thyroxine, and speeds up the metabolism.

I

Immune system - The immune system consists of a number of organs, tissues and highly specialized cells that protect against disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and parasitic worms.

Implantation window - It is the period of time when the endometrium is the most receptive of the early embryo, allowing the implantation to take place.

Intra-uterine growth retardation - In intra-uterine growth retardation, the predicted fetal weight for a gestational age is in excess of 10% lower than expected.

L

Laparoscope - A small tube with a light and camera source, connected to a monitor transferring images from the inside of the abdominal cavity, while performing a laparoscopy.

Liquefaction - The ability of semen to turn from the gel-like state of the ejaculate to a liquid state.

Luminometer - An apparatus that can measure light produced through an enzymatic reaction.

Luteal phase - It is a stage of the menstrual cycle that occurs after ovulation (the release of a mature egg) and before the start of the period. During this stage normally, the endometrium becomes thicker preparing for a likely pregnancy.

Lycopene - An essential nutrient for humans that is bright red (carotenoid) and found in tomatoes, other fruit and vegetables.

M

Mammogram - A specialized X-ray of the breast that helps with the detection of breast cancer.

Morphology - The natural form or appearance of a biological structure.

Mutation - A permanent mistake in the genetic material (DNA).

N

Natural killer cells - Type of specialized immune-system cells. They help the other immune cells to fight a source of infection by promoting inflammation.

Necrosis - Necrosis is the accidental death of cells or body tissue (as opposed to programmed cell death or apoptosis).

O

Obstructie azoospermia / Non-obstructive azoospermia - Obstructive azoospermia is the absence of sperms in the semen due to a physical obstacle, such as blockage of genital tracts. Non-obstructive azoospermia is the absence of sperm in the semen due to any other reason apart from a physical obstruction.

Oligohydramnios - A pregnancy condition characterized by a smaller volume of amniotic fluid.

Oligospermia - A semen condition characterized by low-sperm count.

Osteoporosis - A condition in which the bones become weaker, brittle and fragile from the loss of bone mass / tissue. They are the result of hormonal changes, deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

Ovarian - cyst A fluid-filled sac that develops on an ovary.

Ovarian reserve - A term that describes a woman's reproductive potential in relation to her ovaries' capacity to provide eggs.

Ovarian ligament - A cord-like attachment between ovary and uterus.

Ovulation - The release of a mature egg from the ovary into the fallopian tube.

Ovulation induction - Stimulation of ovulation with the use of fertility drugs.

P

Pituitary - The major gland of the human body, secreting a number of hormones (e.g. Luteineizing hormone, prolactin), and controlling the function of other gland organs (e.g. adrenals, thyroid glands).

Pituitary agonist or antagonists - Fertility drugs that trigger ovarian stimulation by altering the pituitary hormone-releasing signals. Agonists initially stimulate the pituitary to release Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which indirectly blocks their further release. Antagonists are direct in their action, by blocking immediately the release of these hormones.

Placenta - This is a circular flattened organ that connects the developing embryo into the uterine wall and supports its growth and development through the umbilical cord.

Polyp - Small non-cancerous masses in the surface of the fallopian tubes that can cause heavy and irregular periods. Pre-eclampsia / eclampsia A pregnancy condition that is characterized by high blood pressure, high amounts of protein in the urine, swollen hands, legs and feet.

Pre-eclampsia / eclampsia - A pregnancy condition that is characterized by high blood pressure, high amounts of protein in the urine, swollen hands, legs and feet. Pre-eclampsia can be managed with medication, but if it remains undiagnosed and untreated, it can develop to full-symptom eclampsia, which is very risky for both mother and baby.

R

Recessive condition - A genetic condition that manifests only in individuals that have received both versions of a 'faulty' (mutated) gene, one from the mother and one from the father. However, if they receive one healthy copy from one parent, and one recessive 'faulty' gene from the other, then they will not appear as having the genetic condition caused by this genetic mutation.

S

Salpingitis - Infection leading to inflammation within the fallopian tubes.

Speculum - A medical tool that enlarges the passage to the uterus allowing a pelvic examination.

Spina bifida - A group of genetic conditions that affect the embryonic development of the spine, skull or brain.

Swab cervical examination - A method of taking a sample for analysis from the cervix.

T

Teratozoospermia - Increased presence of sperm with abnormal shape in a semen sample. It is a cause of male factor infertility.

Testes / Testicles - The male reproductive glands.

Thyroid gland - Located in the throat, it is the gland that regulates the body metabolism through secretion of the thyroid hormone (thyroxine).

Trophoblast layer - The outer layer of cells in the blastocyst-stage embryo. It is responsible for forming the placenta, which feeds and supports the developing fetus.

U

Unexplained infertility - Cases for which we cannot find / define the cause(s) of inability to conceive naturally.

Uterine cavity - The womb, or space, between the fallopian tubes and the passage to the uterus (cervical canal).

Uterine septum - It is a genetic uterine abnormality, characterized by the presence of a lengthwise structure in the middle of the uterine cavity that divides it in two parts.

V

Varicocele - Presence of enlarged and possibly twisted veins (varicose veins) in the testicle. It may be the cause of male factor infertility.

Vas deferens - The tube through which the sperms pass from the epididymis, where they are stored, to the ejaculatory mechanism.

Vitrification / vitrified eggs - A rapid cryopreservation technique that uses liquid nitrogen for freezing eggs or sperms avoiding the formation of crystals.

Vulva / vulvar - Vulva is a term that describes the collective structures of the external female genitalia. Vulvar, adjective.

Z

Zona pellucida - The ‘shell’ or protective layer of proteins that surrounds and protects the egg or the early-stage embryo.