The absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age. Physiological states of amenorrhoea are seen during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Outside the reproductive years, there is an absence of menses during childhood and after menopause. See also premature menopause.
Procedure whereby sperm are deposited via the vagina into the cervix or uterus using a catheter. The technique is used to transfer donor sperm or to overcome problems with sexual performance, the interaction between sperm and mucus, or the quality of sperm.
A variety of procedures used to bring about conception without sexual intercourse, including In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT) or Zygote Intra-Fallopian Transfer (ZIFT), Intracyto-plasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (MESA) and Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE).
The lowest temperature attained by the body, usually measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity is undertaken. A rise in body temperature of about half a degree about 14 days into an average 28-day cycle suggests ovulation has taken place.
A sexually-transmitted infection, which may be asymptomatic or cause genital inflammation and discharge, pelvic pain and fever. Untreated, chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and fertility problems.
Structures found in the nucleus of cells that contain genes and carry heredity information, such as eye colour, blood type and vulnerability to disease. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. One set of 23 chromosomes is inherited from the biological mother via her egg and the other from the biological father, via his sperm. Each sperm cell contains either male or female sex chromosomes. As such, it determines the gender of the foetus. Genetic abnormalities occur when an individual is born missing a chromosome or has more copies of a chromosomal pair.
A prescription drug used to bring on ovulation. It comes as a tablet and is often used as an initial treatment for women with ovulation problems. Clomiphene citrate induces ovulation in 80% of women who have trouble ovulating on their own.
A hormone-secreting mass within the ovary that forms from the remains of a follicle each time an egg is released. The hormones it produces prepare the uterus for embryo implantation. If pregnancy does not occur, the mass is shed during menstruation.
A condition usually detected at birth or childhood whereby the testicles fail to descend. When a male foetus develops in the uterus, his testicles normally form inside his abdomen and descend into the scrotum shortly before birth. Undescended testicles usually descend themselves by the sixth month of life, but are unlikely to descend after this period of their own accord.
A condition where the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body can't respond normally to the insulin that is made (type 2 diabetes). This causes glucose levels in the blood to rise, leading to symptoms such as increased urination, extreme thirst, and unexplained weight loss.
A procedure used to obtain eggs from ovarian follicles for use in In Vitro Fertilization. Retrieval may be performed during a laparoscopy procedure or via the vagina using a blunt syringe and with the aid of an ultrasound to locate the follicle in the ovary.
A condition whereby cells that normally line the uterine cavity grow outside the womb, for example in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or even the bladder or intestines. The cause is largely unknown. Scarring from endometriosis may cause conception difficulties.
The moment of conception when the genetic material contained in the sperm and egg combine to create an embryo. Fertilization usually occurs inside the fallopian tube. It may also occur in vitro during a clinical process. See also In Vitro Fertilization.
A benign (that is, not malignant or life-threatening) tumour made up of fibrous tissue that may form in the uterine wall. Fibroid tumours may be present without any symptoms, or may cause abnormal menstrual patterns or infertility.
A hormone released by the pituitary gland in both sexes. In women, FSH stimulates the growth of the ovarian follicle necessary for egg production. In men, FSH stimulates and supports sperm production. Elevated FSH levels are associated with gonadotrophin failure in both men and women.
A hormone secreted from the brain, which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to produce hormones involved in the fertility cycle, mainly Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH).
Drugs that temporarily block the natural release of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) or Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to allow the hormonal cycle to be controlled clinically. By suppressing these hormones, doctors can precisely control ovarian stimulation and prevent spontaneous ovulation before egg retrieval takes place.
A hormone released by the placenta after implantation that keeps the corpus luteum producing estradiol and progesterone, and thus preventing menstruation. The hormone is also given via injection to trigger ovulation after some fertility treatments. In men, it is used to stimulate testosterone production.
A visual examination of the uterus via the vagina using a telescopic instrument, to identify any malformations in the uterus lining, the presence of myomas, fibroid growths or damage to the fallopian tubes. If necessary, minor surgery may be performed at the same time without the need for a large incision.
Impaired activity of the hypothalamus or pituitary glands resulting in below-average function of the ovaries or testicles and low in low production of the hormones Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Oestrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone, which are necessary for reproduction.
The inability of a couple to achieve conception after a year of unprotected intercourse – six months if the woman is over 35 – or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth. Also see Subfertility.
A single sperm is injected directly into an egg cell with microscopic guidance. If fusion takes place, the embryo is transferred into the uterus for implantation. This clinical procedure is often used in conjunction with In Vitro Fertilisation if the male partner has a very low sperm count, low sperm motility or poor-quality sperm.
Menstrual cycles that vary more than a few days in length from month to month are considered irregular. Most menstrual cycles occur about every four weeks, with the normal range lasting between 24 and 35 days.
Eggs produced with the assistance of fertility drugs are retrieved from the woman’s body and fertilized by sperm in a laboratory environment. The resulting embryos are transferred via catheter to the uterus.
The process whereby the embryo embeds itself into the lining of the uterus. The cells from the embryo eventually connect with the mother’s blood vessels to form the placenta. See also ectopic pregnancy.
Typically diagnosed 12 months after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Natural menopause occurs when the ovaries begin decreasing their production of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone and marks the end of a woman’s fertility. See premature menopause.
A viral disease of the parotid (salivary) glands. Contraction of the virus after puberty may damage sperm-producing cells in the testicles. In most cases, only one testicle is affected. Some men could suffer permanent sterility.
A condition when a sperm sample contains less than 20 million spermatozoa per ejaculate. Many medical conditions reduce sperm concentration. The effects may be temporary or permanent. See also Azoospermia.
The failure of the ovary to respond to hormonal stimulation from the pituitary gland because of damage to or malformation of the ovary, or a chronic disease such as autoimmune disease or ageing process.
The structure in which eggs are nurtured to maturation. Although in general only one egg is released at a time, somewhere between 10 and 20 follicles begin the process of maturation monthly. The excess ovarian follicles are reabsorbed before ovulation occurs.
A generic term for inflammation of the uterus, fallopian tubes and/or the ovaries, which may lead to scarring or adhesions to nearby tissues. PID can refer to viral, fungal, parasitic or bacterial infections and is often associated with sexually transmitted infections.
The pituitary gland controls the function of other endocrine glands and is located at the base of the brain. It produces hormones including Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which stimulate the ovaries and testicles.
A temporary organ through which the mother nourishes the developing foetus, transfers oxygen and receives carbon dioxide waste from the foetus. After birth, the placenta detaches from the uterine wall and is expelled from the body as afterbirth.
A hormone secreted by the corpus luteum to prepare the body for pregnancy and, if pregnancy occurs, for maintaining it until birth via the placenta. If implantation does not occur, hormone levels drop, the endometrium breaks down and menstruation occurs.
The stage of adolescence marked by the development of secondary sex characteristics, including menstruation in females. In girls, puberty occurs between the ages of about 11 and 14, and between 13 and 16 in boys.
Drugs made using recombinant DNA techniques. These techniques involve modifying DNA to contain genes from two different sources. Recombinant technology is often used to produce extremely pure therapeutic drugs.
A condition affecting couples who have already conceived, or have had an abortion, or have produced a first child but are now experiencing difficulty in adding to their family. Also see infertility or primary infertility.
The male sex glands, which are located in a sac below the penis called the scrotum. Their main functions are to produce sperm and to release the male sex hormone testosterone. In order to produce and nurture sperm, the temperature within the testicles remains around 1°C cooler than normal body temperature.
The extraction of sperm directly from the testicles (TESE) or from the epididymis (MESA) if sperm is not found in the ejaculate. A minor surgical procedure is carried out to remove tissue samples that may contain sperm. The sperm is then used in Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment.
A pear-shaped organ also known as the womb that supports the developing foetus throughout pregnancy. The uterus consists of: the cervical opening, the cervix and the uterine cavity. The two fallopian tubes open into the uterus.
The muscular opening through which sperm travels in order to reach an egg. The vagina also serves as a passage for menstrual flow and secretions, which may assist or obstruct sperm in their journey to fertilizing an egg.
The presence of varicose veins around the testicles caused by poor circulation. The increase in blood leads to a rise in the temperature in the testicles. This causes abnormal testosterone levels, which hinder the production of sperm.