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Diagnosis Glossary

A

Amenorrhea
Absence of menstrual cycles (periods).

Anovulation
A condition in which a woman does not release mature eggs on a regular basis for fertilization. Roughly 40 percent of couples that seek treatment for infertility are diagnosed with anovulation.

Antisperm Antibodies
An immune system response that causes the body to attack and kill off sperm. Both men and women can develop antisperm antibodies.

Aspermia
The complete absence of semen.

Asthenozoospermia
Low count of moving (motility) sperm, ie. they don’t swim forward well.

Autoimmune Infertility
When your body fights against aspects of the reproductive process, the immune system can react against hormones, sperm, embryo implantation, and placental blood flow.

Azoospermia
The absence of sperm in the ejaculate.

 

E

Endometriosis
A disease in which tissue from the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. When this tissue “sheds” during a menstrual cycle, blood and tissue collects in the abdomen.

 

H

High FSH
When the pituitary gland emits high levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), it means that the ovaries are not responding adequately to its message. To lower FSH, the ovaries’ response to the pituitary gland’s messages must be improved.

Hormonal Imbalances
An imbalance of the chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs.

Hydrosalpinx
Is a blocked, fluid-filled fallopian tube caused by a previous tubal infection. Mild cases may be opened surgically. If both fallopian tubes are completely blocked (hydrosalpinges), conception can not occur without medical intervention. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the method of choice. The fluid from the hydrosalpinx appears to reduce the success of embryo implantation and increase the chance of miscarriage. Because of this, your physician may recommend removing your tube(s) to increase your chances of success with IVF.

Hyperprolactinemia
An overproduction of prolactin by the pituitary gland, this condition affects ovulation and breast milk production.

Hypogonadism
A disorder affecting men that can lead to infertility. It is caused by a lack of GnRH and therefore a testosterone deficiency.

Hypothalmic Amenorrhea
This results when the hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, stops producing gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to release the appropriate levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) needed for egg development and ovulation.

Hypothyroidism
Caused by an underactive thyroid, this affects hormone production and can cause irregular periods and breast milk production in women who aren’t pregnant.

 

L

Luteal Phase Defect

A defect occurring within the last fourteen days of an ovulatory cycle, associated with progesterone production from the corpus luteum.

 

M

Male Factor Infertility
In roughly 35% of all infertility cases, the cause is attributed to a factor in the male and in some 25% of cases the cause is attributed to both male and female factors. Male factor infertility can include any of the following problems: lack of sperm, low sperm counts, poor motility or movement of the sperm, poor sperm quality, sperm that lack the ability to penetrate an egg, or problems with sperm delivery such as retrograde ejaculation.

 

O

Oligozoospermia 
An abnormally low number of sperm in the ejaculate.

Ovarian Failure
The failure of the ovary to respond to FSH stimulation from the pituitary because of damage to or malformation of the ovary. Diagnosed by elevated FSH in the blood.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
A possible side effect of treatment with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) or human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) in which ovaries become painful and swollen and fluid may accumulate in the abdomen and chest. Close monitoring of IVF patients helps to minimize the occurrence of OHSS.

Ovulatory Dysfunction
Any one of a number of conditions that affect menstruation and ovulation. Ovulatory dysfunction results from congenital defects, hormonal deficiencies, and/or the aging process. Types include amenorrhea, lack of a period; anovulation, when no eggs are released during ovulation; oligoovulation, characterized by longer cycles and infrequent ovulation and luteal phase defects; and other types of ovulatory dysfunction.

 

P

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
PID is the general term for inflammation of the female genital tract. It is caused by a serious infection and can lead to irreparable damage to the fallopian tubes. PID is often caused by a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
A genetically-linked hormonal imbalance that prevents ovulation. PCOS may also cause overproduction of estrogen, abnormal thickening of the uterine lining, very heavy and/or irregular periods, as well as acne and facial hair. The latter are caused by an overproduction of male hormones, including testosterone.

Premature Ovarian Failure
Also called early menopause, this can result from exposure to certain chemicals, chemotherapy and radiation for cancer treatment. Other causes are certain genetic disorders and certain immunological abnormalities.

 

T

Teratospermia
Condition characterized by the presence of malformed spermatozoa in semen.

 

U

Unexplained (Idiopathic) Infertility
Infertility for which no cause has been determined despite a comprehensive evaluation.

Uterine Fibroids
Also called myomas, fibroids can mechanically obstruct and inhibit implantation.

 

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