Glossary of Fertility Terms

B

Basal Body Temperature (BBT): The temperature of the body at rest.

E

Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue similar to that normally lining the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.

F

Fallopian Tubes: Tubes through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.
Follicles: The sac-like structures that form inside an ovary when an egg is produced.

H

Hormones: Substances made in the body by cells or organs that control the function of cells or organs.
Hysterosalpingography: A special X-ray procedure in which a small amount of fluid is placed into the uterus and fallopian tubes to detect abnormal changes in their size and shape or to determine whether the tubes are blocked.
Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which a slender device called a hysteroscope is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus or perform surgery.

I

Infertility: A condition in which a couple has been unable to get pregnant after 12 months without the use of any form of birth control.

L

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into the pelvic cavity through a small incision. The laparoscope is used to view the pelvic organs. Other instruments can be used with it to perform surgery.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps an egg to mature and be released.

O

Obstetrician–Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn): A physician with special skills, training, and education in women’s health.
Ovaries: The paired organs in the female reproductive system that contain the eggs released at ovulation and produce hormones.
Ovulation: The release of an egg from one of the ovaries.

P

Pituitary Gland: A gland located near the brain that controls growth and other changes in the body.
Progesterone: A female hormone that is produced in the ovaries and that prepares the lining of the uterus for pregnancy.

S

Scrotum: The external genital sac in the male that contains the testes.
Semen: The fluid made by male sex glands that contains sperm.
Sexual Intercourse: The act of the penis of the male entering the vagina of the female (also called “having sex” or “making love”).
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Infections that are spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).
Sonohysterography: A procedure in which sterile fluid is injected into the uterus through the cervix while ultrasound images are taken of the inside of the uterus.
Sperm: A cell produced in the male testes that can fertilize a female egg.

T

Testes: Paired male organs that produce sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone.
Thyroid Gland: A butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck in front of the trachea (or windpipe). It makes, stores, and releases thyroid hormone and thyroid-releasing hormone that control the rate at which every part of the body works.

U

Ultrasound Exam: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures.
Urologist: A physician who specializes in treating problems of the kidneys, bladder, and male reproductive system.
Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.

V

Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.

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