Fertility & Pregnancy Glossary 2022: Medical Definitions of Terminology Used in Fertility and Pregnancy

Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is the absence of periods or missing one or more menstruations. Amenorrhea is classified into two types, namely primary and Secondary amenorrhea.

Primary amenorrhea is when periods have not occurred in girls at all even by the age of 15 years. One of the common reasons attributed to primary amenorrhea are hormones, reproductive deformities like uterine malformations, ovarian dysfunction, or genetic predisposition. 

Secondary amenorrhea is when there is a sudden/abnormal absence of periods for three or more continuous menstrual cycles in a regularly menstruating woman. This condition can be due to hormonal variations, ovulatory disorders, genes, etc. 

Anovulation

Anovulation is when the ovaries do not release an egg into the fallopian tube at the time of ovulation. In short, ovulation does not take place at all. 

The release of an egg or ovulation is essential for pregnancy to occur, and no ovulation for a long term in the child-bearing years can lead to infertility. 

Anovulation is mainly caused due to an imbalance of hormones or conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. It can occur in women at any age. 

Antisperm Antibody Test

Antisperm antibody test is a specialized test conducted to determine the presence of antibodies or proteins that destroy the sperms in blood, vaginal mucus, or semen. 

These antibodies can either be generated in a man, a woman who is allergic to semen can produce these antibody proteins making it hard for the sperm to fertilize with the egg. 

Antisperm antibody tests require the blood/cervical mucus samples of the female partner and the semen/blood sample of the male to check the presence of these antibody proteins.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial Insemination is one of the effective methods of reproduction where the doctor places the sperm into the cervix, uterus, or fallopian tube of a woman. The sperm eventually fertilizes with the egg. 

The prime benefit of this method is that it shortens the journey of the sperm and overcomes obstructions of several male and/or female fertility factors. The most common method of artificial insemination is Intrauterine insemination or IUI.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

The full form of ART is Assisted Reproductive Technology. It is one of the widely adopted techniques to treat infertility. 

It includes a range of fertility treatments involving the handling of eggs, sperms, and embryos in a laboratory setup. 

Some of the commonly used ART are In Vitro fertilization-Embryo Transfer (IVF-ET), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT), Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT), and Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). 

Azoospermia

Azoospermia is a condition where there are no sperms present in the ejaculate.

It can occur due to two conditions. One is obstructive azoospermia where there is a blockage in the ducts preventing the sperm from combining with the ejaculate. 

The second is non-obstructive azoospermia caused due to the no measurable sperm generation in the testicles. Both these conditions are one of the common reasons for infertility in men. 

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

The full form of BBT is Basal Body Temperature. It is the temperature attained by the body when at rest. 

During ovulation or early pregnancy, the basal body temperature slightly increases due to the hormonal changes happening within the body. 

For most women, BBT ranges between 97 to 97.5 degrees Fahrenheit before ovulation and during ovulation or early pregnancy it typically is between 97.6 to 98.6 F. Other factors such as stress, exercise, indigestion, lack of sleep, and certain medications also can impact BBT. 

Blastocyst

The term blastocyst refers to the rapidly dividing mass of cells or the embryo nearly five to six days after fertilization. 

The structure of a typical blastocyst has a demarcated outer cell lining called trophoblast, nourishing and protecting the inner cellular mass called the embryoblast. A small vacuole or space between the trophoblast and embryoblast is called a blastocoel. 

The blastocyst is the one that gets attached into the uterine wall during implantation.  

Cervical Mucus

The uterine opening or the cervix produces and releases fluids especially during the fertile days of the menstrual cycle. This liquid discharge from the cervix is called cervical mucus. 

The hormones determine the texture, colour, and volume of the mucus discharged. 

Before ovulation, the cervical mucus is thick, dry and white. During pregnancy, the cervical mucus gets clear and slippery making it easy for the sperm to reach the egg. After implantation, the cervical mucus is thick brown or light pink in color. 

Clomid

Clomid has the generic name Clomiphene citrate, an oral medication usually prescribed to treat female infertility especially to induce the generation of more follicles.

It works by stimulating the pituitary glands to produce more follicle stimulating hormone  (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH). Increased production of FSH and LH triggers the ovaries to produce multiple follicles, to develop and release during ovulation.  

Cryopreservation

Cryopreservation is a method used in ART where the embryos, sperm or eggs are preserved under sub-zero temperatures with the help of preserving chemicals called cryoprotectants. It can be done by two methods. 

One is slow freezing where the embryo/egg/sperm are slowly frozen in stages with the cryoprotectant and later stored in liquid nitrogen at -196.1 degree celsius. 

The second is called vitrification where the cryportected embryo/sperm/eggs are frozen rapidly and stored in liquid nitrogen. The cryopreserved embryos/gametes are thawed before use.      

Donor Eggs

Eggs taken from a female ready to donate and used in the process of assisted reproduction or biomedical research are called donor eggs. 

Donor eggs are generally frozen when received from the donor and thawed before use. If a woman cannot get pregnant by using her own eggs, she can consider opting for donor eggs. Sometimes, even fresh donor eggs can be used for research and ART purposes. 

Dysmenorrhoea

Dysmenorrhoea is used to describe painful periods. It can be categorized into two types namely primary and secondary dysmenorrhoea. 

Menstrual pain from the first period or later periods without a known cause, is called primary dysmenorrhoea. Period pain caused due to reproductive disorders, like adenomyosis, endometriosis or fibroids, is known as secondary dysmenorrhoea.

Egg Donation

Egg donation is a process in which a woman donates the egg or oocytes to another woman or couple to help conceive. It is a part of ART benefiting women who cannot use their own eggs to have children due to various reasons.  

The procedure involves certain tests, legal implications where the donor and the donee will need to take care of. 

Embryo Donation

Embryo donation is a part of ART and used when the couple cannot conceive through other ART procedures or use their eggs and sperm. 

Couples undergoing ART can donate their unused embryos to the fertility clinics, which are cryopreserved for later use. The donated embryos can be used in couples who need to build their families. 

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is  one of the fertility causing conditions in women where the endometrium or the uterine lining where it grows outside the boundaries of the uterus.

Endometriosis tends to block the fallopian ducts, ovaries, other abdominal organs, and their functions. 

When the uterine lining sheds and bleeds during menstruation, the endometrial implants outside the uterus also bleeds causing massive tissue rupture, and damage. Heavy and painful menstruation are characteristic of women with endometriosis. 

Endometrium

Endometrium is also known as uterine lining or lining of the uterus. It is one organ of the female body that keeps changing in thickness, sheds, and bleeds every month throughout her reproductive years. 

Structurally, endometrium consists of a thin layer of epithelial cells with a stromal layer forming the base. The endometrium prevents adhesions of the uterine cavity. 

During every menstrual cycle, it grows thick of around 11mm with adequate blood vessels and eventually shed at the time of menstruation. 

Fallopian Tubes

The fallopian tubes are the connecting ducts between the ovaries and the uterus. A female reproductive anatomy has two ovaries and so, two fallopian tubes are functionally present. However, even one functional fallopian tube can help carry out the reproductive functions in a female.

They serve as the transporting ducts and fertilization sites for the egg, sperm, and embryo in a female reproductive tract.

In case of any infection or scarring, the fallopian ducts may get blocked (blocked fallopian tubes), the fertilization process and transport of gametes is consequently interrupted.    

Follicle

Follicles or ovarian follicles are small fluid filled sacs present in the ovaries, a home for one or more egg producing cells/oocytes. These follicles develop and nurture the oocytes to produce egg or ovum. 

During the menstrual cycle, the follicles grow and nourish the oocytes from day 1 of menstruation, and at the time of ovulation, break open to release the egg. Later, the follicles shrink and diminish gradually. 

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

The full form of FSH is follicle stimulating hormone. FSH is one of the essential hormones produced from the pituitary gland- a small gland present beneath the brain.

High levels of FSH is required from pubertal development in a female as it triggers the growth and development of ovarian follicles during the first few days of a menstrual cycle. As the FSH levels reduce, the mature follicles release the eggs. Adequate FSH levels in men are known to promote sperm production. 

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)

The full form of FET is Frozen Embryo Transfer. FET is a method in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) where the cryopreserved embryos of the IVF cycle are thawed and transferred into the uterus of the female. Previously unused or donated embryos are cryopreserved to be used in the FET process.  

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

The full form of GIFT is Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer. GIFT is an assisted reproductive technology (ART), uses laparoscopic technique to transfer multiple eggs and sperm into the fallopian tube of the female reproductive tract. 

The technique involves extraction of more than one egg from the follicles. The sperms are also collected. The gametes are later mixed in a cather and inserted laparoscopically. GIFT procedure is close to a natural fertilization procedure known to treat mild male and certain female fertility issues. 

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (Gn-RH)

Gonadotropin releasing hormones or Gn-RH are peptide hormones produced by the hypothalamus. The Gn-RH released in the bloodstream promotes the pituitary gland to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). 

Gn-RH hormones are present in low levels during the initial developmental years of a man and woman, but as puberty commences, Gn-RH levels both in men and women begin to rise encouraging FSH and LH production. In turn initiating egg and sperm production accordingly.  

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonists and Antagonists(GnRH Agonist and GnRH Antagonists)

GnRH Agonists and GnRH antagonists are a class of drugs together known as GnRH analogues, used to treat endometriosis, breast cancer, prostate cancer. 

GnRH Agonists work similar to gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) where the drug stimulates the release of LH and FSH from the pituitary gland to in turn trigger ovulation in women and sperm generation in men. Continuous GnRH agonists can down regulate LH and FSH release.

GnRH Antagonists work on the GnRH receptors to inhibit the release of LH and FSH. Thus, working similar to the continuous GnRH agonists. 

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

The full form of hCG is Human Chorionic Gonadotropin. hCG is a hormone produced by the specialized cells surrounding the embryo, eventually forming the placenta during pregnancy. 

After the implantation of the embryo, as the placental cells are formed, the hCG levels increase. This stimulates the corpus luteal cells to make more progesterone for maintaining the pregnancy. 

Meagre amounts of hCG is also produced in the pituitary gland, the liver and the colon. 

Hysterosalpingogram

Hysterosalpingogram is also referred to as HSG or uterosalpingography. HSG is a diagnostic procedure or a specialized X-ray performed to view the internal condition of the uterus and fallopian tube. 

Usually, done to check the structure of the uterus and blocked fallopian tube status, HSG uses a specialized dye (liquid containing iodine). The dye easily demarcates the abnormalities of the uterus and fallopian tube when viewed in an X-ray. 

Hysteroscopy

Hysteroscopy is a non-invasive surgical procedure performed both as a diagnostic and treatment modality. Hysteroscopy applies a long rod-like instrument known as hysteroscope that can easily be sent through the cervix to assess and treat the causes of abnormal bleeding. 

Hysteroscope has a camera and light allowing the doctor to view the internal condition of the female reproductive anatomy and carry out the necessary diagnostic or treatment procedures. 

Infertility

Infertility is the condition of the reproductive system in men and women eventually causing an inability to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of unprotected intercourse. This condition can occur in both men and women. 

Infertility has affected millions of reproductive-aged men and women. Infertility in men is called Male infertility and infertility in women is also called female infertility

Sometimes, the cause of infertility cannot be found leading to unexplained infertility. However, Infertility can be treated with proper, timely evaluation of the cause.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

The full form of ICSI is Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. It is an advanced procedure of ART where the sperm extracted in the IVF procedure is selected and injected into the egg with the help of a special hollow injection. 

In cases where the sperm cannot fuse with the egg/ovum to cause fertilization failures, ICSI procedure has proved beneficial in treating severe male infertility causes and certain female infertility factors.

Intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection (IMSI)

The full form of IMSI is Intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection. IMSI is an extended procedure of IVF/ICSI where the retrieved sperms are selected based on its morphological characters of size, shape, and motility. 

IMSI selection of sperm is done under a specialized microscope having a magnification of 6,600 times eliminating major sperm fertility factors. The IMSI selected sperms are injected into the egg through ICSI.  

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

The full form of IUI is Intrauterine Insemination. IUI is a type of artificial insemination used to treat infertility. 

During IUI, the sperms obtained are washed and placed directly into the uterus around the time when the ovary releases one or more eggs to fertilize the sperm. 

IUI is performed through the vaginal opening and cuts down the sperm’s journey making it more convenient for the sperm to fuse with the egg. 

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

The full form of IVF is In Vitro Fertilization. IVF is a popular form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) where the series of procedural steps is conducted to improve fertility and help conceive.

IVF procedure involves hormonal stimulation of ovaries, removal of eggs from the developed ovarian follicles to fuse with the sperms in a culture medium in a laboratory (in-vitro). The developed embryo is placed in the uterus of the female to cause implantation and pregnancy. 

Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure where a long flexible tube-like instrument called laparoscope is passed through the abdominal wall. A laparoscope has light and camera, allowing the doctor to see the internal organs of the abdomen. 

Laparoscopy requires multiple small incisions to allow passage of laparoscope and appropriate instruments to diagnose and treat a range of conditions of the pelvis. Less painful, quick healing and recovery are added benefits of laparoscopy. 

Laser Assisted hatching

Laser assisted hatching is a procedure of assisted reproductive technology (ART), where the embryos cultured in-vitro that cannot break through its outer layer is assisted in the hatching process. 

This procedure uses a controlled laser for generating a crack or breaking the outer shell, hence known as laser assisted hatching. It is used just before the embryo transfer during the IVF or ICSI process.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

The full form of LH is Luteinizing Hormone. LH is produced by the gonadotropic cells of the anterior pituitary gland, and the LH production is regulated by the GnRH of the hypothalamus. 

In women, the rise in LH stimulates the process of release of eggs from the ovaries, signals ovaries to produce estrogen, and supports the development of the corpus luteum. And in men, the increase in LH causes the testicles to produce testosterone and sperm production. 

Luteal Phase

In a menstrual cycle, the time occurring after the ovaries release the eggs (ovulation) to the start of the next menstrual period is referred to as the luteal phase. 

Luteal phase, on an average, lasts for 14 days in the second half of the menstrual cycle. However, the duration of 14-16 days is also considered normal. Luteal phase duration less than 10 days is considered a luteal phase defect

Male factor infertility

Male infertility is the condition seen in men, who are unable to impregnate a fertile female. Infertility in men is caused by a number of factors, or problems of the male reproductive anatomy conclude under male factor infertility. Almost 40-50% of the infertility cases are due to male factor infertility. 

Sperm factors, productive factors, obstructive factors, and immunological factors are some of the conditions causing infertility in men. 

Microsurgical testicular sperm extraction (Micro TESE)

The full form of MicroTESE is microsurgical testicular sperm extraction. Micro TESE is a microsurgical surgical procedure used to retrieve sperm directly from the testicular tissue. The testicular tissues are processed to extract the sperm.  

It is a less painful safe procedure mostly preferred in men having male fertility factors such as obstructive azoospermia.  

Oligospermia

Oligospermia is otherwise called oligozoospermia, or low sperm count. Oligospermia is a condition seen in men when the sperm concentration in the semen is less than the W.H.O parameters of 15 million sperms for 1 mL (millilitre) of semen. 

Oligospermia is classified into mild oligospermia (10-15 million sperm/mL semen), moderate oligospermia (5-10 million sperm/mL semen), severe oligospermia (<5 million sperm/mL semen). 

A decrease in sperm concentration may also lead to poor sperm motility (asthenozoospermia) and abnormal sperm morphology (teratozoospermia). 

Ovulation

The process of release of mature eggs from the ovarian follicles into the fallopian tube is called ovulation. In a typical 28-30 day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs nearly after 14 to 15 days of the last menstruation time. 

Symptoms of ovulation include increase in basal body temperature (BBT), fatigue, mild abdominal pain, cervical mucus discharge, breast soreness, nausea, headaches, low libido, etc.  When ovulation does not take place on time, it may lead to delayed ovulation or anovulation (no ovulation). 

Ovulation Disorders

Ovulation disorders are one of the common causes of infertility among women. It is denied as the problems in the production of eggs seen during the menstrual cycle.  

Ovulation disorders are caused by the disturbances in the regulating reproductive hormones, its production, and functions. Symptoms include infrequent periods, weight and mood changes. It can be treated through hormonal interventions and lifestyle modifications. 

Ovulation Induction (OI)

The full form of OI is Ovulation Induction. OI is a process in which hormonal medications are used to induce ovulation or regulate ovulation in women having ovulatory dysfunction. 

In OI, hormonal injectables or oral medications are given to stimulate regular ovulation and continuous monitoring is done through ultrasound. 

OI can consequently increase the number of eggs produced in a menstrual cycle and improve the chances of conception. 

Ovum

Ovum is also called an egg and in plural is ova or oocytes. In female physiology, the ovum is referred to as a single cell, developed in the follicles of the ovary, and released into the fallopian tube. It is capable of developing into a new life after uniting with the sperm cell.

The function of the ovum is to carry the set of chromosomes and contribute to the developing embryo, provide an ideal environment for fertilization, and ensure nourishment to the growing embryo until placenta takes over. 

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

The full form of PID is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. It is the infection of a woman’s reproductive organs commonly caused due to sexually transmitted bacteria such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis.  

The signs and symptoms of PID include lower abdominal pain, fever, intermittent bleeding, pain while urinating, painful sex, abnormal and bad odor vaginal discharge. These symptoms can be mild and non-noticeable. 

Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)

The full form of PESA is percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration. PESA is a surgical sperm aspiration procedure done under local anesthesia. 

In PESA, a fine needle is inserted into the epididymis and sperms are gradually extracted. The extracted sperms are used in artificial insemination, IVF or ICSI procedures. 

Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI)

The full form of PICSI is physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. PICSI is used when there is a presence of more immature sperms in the semen sample. 

PICSI adopts hyaluronan plates where the sperms with less DNA damage and fewer chromosomal abnormalities bond with hyaluronan allowing choosing of sperms with physiological maturity. 

PICSI selected sperms are injected through ICSI facilitating good quality embryos, increased likelihood of implantation, and reduced congenital defects. 

Polycystic Ovary/Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

The full form of PCOS is polycystic Ovary/Ovarian Syndrome. It is an endocrine disorder characterised by the presence of multiple fluid filled cysts in the ovaries. 

Women in their child bearing years often experience this disorder where there is an increase in androgen levels or male hormones, resistance to insulin, disrupted FSH and LH ratio. 

This causes irregular menstruation, excessive hair fall, male-patterned baldness, acne breakouts, growth of body and facial hair.  

Postcoital Test (PCT)

The full form of PCT is Postcoital Tes which is also known as Sims test, Huhner test or Sims-Huhner test. It is a test done to check the interaction between the sperm cells and the cervical mucus. 

The test is ideally conducted 1-2 days before ovulation where the cervical mucus from the female is withdrawn after an intercourse. The test helps determine if the sperm is able to migrate into the female reproductive system and detect the presence of antisperm antibodies. 

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

The full form of POF is Premature Ovarian Failure. POF is a condition seen in a reproductive-aged women where the ovaries stop to produce eggs before the age of 40 or before the onset of menopause. 

POF symptoms like low estrogen, hot flashes, irregular periods, and infertility are often confused with menopause. But, women with POF can have occasional periods and can even bear a pregnancy unlike women having early menopause.

Primary Infertility

Primary infertility is referred to when the couple are unable to have a child despite 12+ months of trying having unprotected intercourse. 

In primary infertility, the couples have not experienced pregnancy and childbirth even once.  

Retrograde Ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation is a condition observed in men when the semen enters the urinary tract during ejaculation instead of being passed on through the penis. 

Men with retrograde ejaculation may ejaculate very less or no semen causing dry orgasm. It is majorly caused by nerve or muscle damage in the bladder which can be corrected by medication. 

However, it does not affect orgasm, nor it is harmful, but does reciprocate male infertility. 

Round Spermatid Nucleus Injection (ROSNI)

The full form of ROSNI is Round Spermatid Nucleus Injection. ROSI is a method of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) where the sperms obtained from ejaculation or micro surgical procedure such as TESA are directly injected into the oocytes. 

It is used to treat male infertility especially when the potential sperms cannot be identified for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).  ROSNI involves the use of immature sperms and abnormal sperms raising genetic concerns and embryo quality issues. 

Secondary Infertility

Secondary infertility is when the couple has had one or more successful pregnancies but is unable to get pregnant again. 

This may be due to conditions of the reproductive system in both man and woman or either one of them. Secondary infertility can be due to advancing age of the couple as well. 

Semen Analysis

Semen Analysis, also known as seminogram or sperm count test, is a test done on a man’s semen sample to check the sperm characteristics such as sperm count, sperm morphology, and sperm motility. It is a test that determines the health of a sperm. 

Semen Analysis is done to evaluate the sperm factors causing male infertility or to verify the success of a vasectomy procedure. 

Sonogram

The computer image created when the high-energy ultrasound waves pass through certain areas of the body is called a sonogram. 

In an ultrasonography, the sound waves are sent into the body which bounces when it touches the internal tissues or organs. This echoing effect captures the real time pictures of the organs and tissues or sonograms. 

Sonogram helps in detecting certain diseases like cancer, blocked fallopian tube, and many more. Sonogram also allows to track baby’s movements and development during pregnancy.   

Sperm

A male reproductive cell produced in the seminiferous tubules of the testicles is called a sperm. 

The sperm structure is characterised by a prominent head which carries the DNA of the male gamete. The tip of the head is an acrosome that allows penetration of the sperm into the egg. 

The sperm has a midpiece connecting the head and a long tail. The tail enables movement of the sperm towards the egg.  

Sperm Donation

Sperm donation is a process where a fertile man donates semen- the liquid having sperm to help an individual or couple to have a child. Sperm donation carries certain medical tests and legal implications that need to be taken care of by the donor as well as the donee. 

The donated sperm are either inseminated into the woman’s reproductive tract or fertilized with the egg through IVF/ICSI procedure of ART. 

Superovulation

Superovulation is also known as ovarian hyperstimulation. It is a process in assisted reproduction where the ovaries are hormonally stimulated to release more than one egg each menstrual cycle. 

In this process, multiple follicles develop as a result of ovary stimulating hormones. The mature eggs from these follicles can be retrieved for assisted reproduction or cryopreservation. 

Superovulation is done in women having ovulatory disorders, irregular menstruation, or during IVF procedure. 

Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA)

The full form of TESA is testicular sperm aspiration. TESA is a surgical procedure done under anesthesia where the sperms are aspirated directly from the testis using a small thin needle. It is a less painful procedure involving no incisions. 

TESA is considered in assisted reproduction in cases of azoospermia, oligospermia, obstructive azoospermia, etc.  It can be used to diagnose and treat azoospermic conditions. 

Tubal Ligation

Tubal ligation is commonly called “getting the tubes tied”. It is a female sterilization procedure done surgically where the fallopian tubes are tied, blocked, clipped, or removed to avert future pregnancies.

The blocked fallopian tubes restricts fertilization process and a pregnancy can be henceforth avoided. This method is regarded as safe and a permanent method for sterilization and birth control.  

Uterus

In female reproductive anatomy, the uterus is a hollow muscular organ present in the lower abdominal region, located between the bladder and the rectum. On its either side, it  is connected to two ovaries through two fallopian tubes. 

The fertilized egg formed in the fallopian tube voyages down to the uterus and implants itself in the uterine lining. The prime function of the uterus is to nourish the developing fetus before birth. 

Varicocele

A varicocele is the condition seen in men characterised by the enlargement of the veins present in the scrotum (loose bags holding the testicles). Often repaired through surgery, a varicocele can cause low sperm production and can affect sperm quality leading to infertility. 

Sometimes a varicocele can hinder testicular development resulting in testicular shrinkage (atrophy). A varicocele shows no distinct signs, but painful swollen testicles, shrinked testicles, discomfort near the testicular region are some of the symptoms. 

Vasectomy

Vasectomy is a surgical procedure performed in men as a means of sterilization or permanent contraception. 

During vasectomy, a part of the vas deferens is cut and sealed to prevent the entry of sperms into the urethra. 

The goal of a vasectomy is to stop the sperms entering the ejaculate thereby prohibiting fertilization of a female during sexual intimacy. Vasectomy is done under anesthesia and generally not painful.   

Zygote

Zygote is also known as an embryo. A zygote is the single celled product obtained after fertilization of a male and a female gamete. 

The genome of the zygote contains a combination of DNA received from male and female gametes capable of forming a new individual. 

The brief staged zygote is the first development unicellular stage that eventually undergoes cleavage or division to get divided into smaller cells and later a multicellular organism. 

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

The full form of ZIFT is Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer. ZIFT is a method of ART where the eggs received from the woman’s ovaries are fertilized in-vitro. The resulting Zygote is placed in the fallopian tubes through laparoscopy. 

ZIFT is used in combination with IVF especially when the fallopian tubes cannot support movement of gametes and fertilization process. 

Pregnancy Glossary

1st Stage of Labor

The first stage of labor is when the cervix softens to promote the initiation of dilation for a successful delivery. Also known as the latent phase, this is the longest stage of labor and includes irregular contractions. Some pregnant women have to wait for hours or even days before they experience Established Labor.

Doctors suggest eating well and hydrating during the first stage of labor to prepare the body for the upcoming stages and the final delivery of the baby.

2nd Stage of Labor

The 2nd stage of labor is often termed Established labor, when the cervix is fully dilated. The period between full dilation and the birth of the baby. The patient remains in the hospital during the second stage, and the midwife or nurses will prepare them for the delivery of their baby. The doctors will wait for the baby to move down the birth canal towards the entrance of the vagina before the patient has to push their baby out.

Once the baby crowns, the doctor or the midwife in the room will advise the patient to stop pushing and take deep breaths until the head is out. The baby’s remaining body is pushed out on the next few contractions. Once delivered, the baby is given to the mother for skin-on-skin contact. 

3rd Stage of Labor

The 3rd or final stage of labor happens after the baby’s delivery. This is when the placenta is delivered via active management or physiological management. Active management is when the new mother gets treatment to deliver the placental, and physiological management is when the process happens naturally without additional treatment.

The midwife or the doctor will advise the best option depending on the delivery. Active management is advisable if the delivery is hard on the mother’s body. 

After birth

Afterbirth is medically termed placental expulsion. This occurs when the placenta that nurtured the baby for nine months is delivered out of the birth canal after the newborn’s birth. The process can happen naturally via uterine contractions or can happen with treatment. The choice depends on the mother’s condition after the baby’s delivery.

In some cultures, the placenta is treated, stored and turned into pills for the mother to consume over the weeks following the birth of their child. 

Apgar Scoring System

The Apgar Scoring System is a medically-accepted method to assess the status of newborns right after their birth. This provides a detailed assessment of the newborn’s clinical status at 1 minute of age.

The Apgar Score comprises five crucial assessment elements – color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiration levels in the baby. Each element in the chart is scored 0, 1, or 2.

A score of 7,8 or 9 out of 10 in the chart is considered normal and healthy for the newborn baby. 

Amniotic Fluid

Amniotic fluid is a clear, yellowish-tinted fluid that encapsulates the surrounding of the growing fetus during the pregnancy. The normal amniotic fluid index is between 5-25 cm, as calculated by the normal assessment methods. It is contained inside the amniotic sac and delivers the necessary nutrition, water and biochemical products to the developing baby. The fluid also acts as a protective cushion for the fetus.

Anesthesia

Anesthesia is a combination of medications used during pregnancy and delivery to prevent severe pain that the mother experiences during labor and delivery. It is administered via injection or inhalation to the mother. The common anesthesia administered during a C-section includes a spinal block and an epidural to alleviate the pain and number the lower region during delivery.

Areola

The areola is the dark and pigmented skin that surrounds the nipple. It is often defined as the circular and toughened disc around the nipple in a woman’s body that helps the nipples to become erect and hardened upon tactile stimulation. This facilitates successful and comfortable suckling during breastfeeding. The areola is supplied with sebaceous glands that keep the nipples lubricated during and after nursing.

Blighted Ovum

A blighted ovum is medically termed as “Anembryogenic Pregnancy.” In this condition, the gestational sac and the placenta grow without an embryo. Although the cause of this condition isn’t clear, this happens due to lack of development of the embryo or if the embryo seizes its growth all of a sudden. The blighted ovum makes hormones similar to a normal pregnancy, showing up positive on a pregnancy test.

Bradley Technique

The Bradley Technique emphasizes and encourages the process of natural birth. The would-be mothers are taught to understand and trust their bodies to allow a natural delivery. Doctors suggesting this technique will instruct pregnant women to follow a healthy diet, lead an active lifestyle and master deep breathing exercises to prepare their bodies. It is a more rigorous technique than the Lamaze method.

Braxton Hicks

Braxton hicks are often known as false labor pain that causes contractions and tightening around the abdomen due to uterine contractions. They mimic the contractions one feels during actual labor. However, Braxton hicks aren’t persistent and come and go every few minutes or few hours. They start during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Breech

The baby is positioned head-down towards the vagina in normal pregnancies to promote a comfortable and easy delivery. In breech, the baby is positioned feet down towards the birth canal. In some cases, the breech corrects itself by 36 weeks when the baby repositions itself with the head down towards the birth canal. C-section is the common route of delivery for most breech babies for a successful and safe delivery.

Cesarean (C-Section)

Cesarean section, abbreviated as C-section, is a surgical procedure for the safe delivery of the baby. The procedure is done by making a horizontal or vertical incision in the abdomen and the uterus. While some mothers undergo this procedure to avoid the pain of vaginal birth, some pregnant women are advised by their doctors to undergo C-section during the prevailing complications from vaginal birth.

Cerclage

Medically known as a cervical stitch, Cerclage is a medical procedure that treats cervical weakness. This is done when the cervix is too worn and starts to prematurely open early on during the pregnancy term, leading to the risks of a miscarriage or preterm birth. In this procedure, the doctor places a single stitch in the cervix to close the cervix. It is done during the late second trimester to prevent premature birth.

Cervix

The cervix is a crucial part of a woman’s reproductive anatomy. It is the extreme lower end of the uterus that promotes the menstrual flow during the monthly cycles and promotes the fetus’s passing from the uterus to the vagina during the delivery. The cervix is 1-1.3 inches in length. It has a cylindrical shape and connects the vagina and the uterus.

Chadwick’s Sign

Chadwick’s sign is marked by the changed appearance of the external female reproductive anatomy. It is seen as the deep bluish discoloration in the vagina, vulva, labia and cervix due to higher blood circulation from the veins. It is an early sign of pregnancy. Pregnant women can notice this during 6-8 weeks of pregnancy.

Colostrum

Colostrum is the first batch of milk produced by the new mothers right after birth. The milk is slightly yellowish and is crucial for the baby’s growth and development. It is rich in nutrients and has growth and tissue repair factors. The milk also has immunity enhancers that help with better immunity development in the newborn.

Conjoined twins

Conjoined twins are a rare form of congenital disability where the twins are born physically attached. The condition is triggered during the embryogenic stages when the embryo separates to form the twins. The physical attachment happens at the abdomen, chest or pelvis most commonly, but there are conjoined twins connected by their skulls too. These kinds of twins might share organs too.

Cord blood banking

Cord blood banking is a medical procedure of collecting the life-saving stem cells from the umbilical cord or the baby’s placenta after their birth. These are stored for future use to treat life-threatening diseases in the baby, including cancer, anemia, autoimmune disorders, etc. The stem cells from the cord blood are 10x more than the available ones in the baby’s bone marrow.

Crowning

Crowning is a step during the delivery process when the baby’s head can be seen through the vaginal opening. This ensures that the delivery is happening the right way without any risks of breech. The process of crowning happens during the second stage of labor when the mother is actively pushing through the contractions to deliver the baby. Once crowning happens, the baby is delivered within the next one or two consecutive contractions.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis, abbreviated as CF, is a genetically inherited condition that causes severe damage to the lungs, gastrointestinal system and associated organs in the body. The condition alters the functioning of the cells responsible for the production of mucus, digestive juices and sweat in the body. Instead of the natural consistency, the secreted fluids are thick and obstruct the various ducts and passages in the system.

Diamniotic twins

Diamniotic twins are twins that have their own amniotic and chorionic sac. Despite growing inside one placenta, the twins grow in their amniotic sac, much like they would in a singleton pregnancy. This is commonly what happens during the pregnancy with fraternal twins or in a few identical twin pregnancies.

Dichorionic twins

Dichorionic twin is a type of pregnancy in which the babies each have their separate amniotic sac and separate placenta. They mostly result in fraternal twins. Most of the twins are born dichorionic, where they have separate blood supplies, resulting in a safer pregnancy.

Dilation

Dilation, often known as cervical dilation, starts right before the first stage of labor when the body is gradually preparing itself for the baby’s delivery. This is marked by the gradual opening of the cervix to allow the baby’s movement through the birth canal towards the vaginal opening for a successful natural delivery. Dilation is measured in centimeters (cm) and ranges from 0-10, 10 being the most dilated.

Discordant twins

Discordance in twins happens when one baby is comparably smaller than the other. This happens very often in monochorionic twins when the babies are sharing the chorionic sac. Intrauterine crowding can lead to unequal sharing of the nutrients, water and biochemical compounds that lead to the smaller size of one of the twins in the womb (or after delivery).

Dizygotic

Dizygotic is a medical term for fraternal twins. This translates to two (di) fertilized eggs (zygote). This happens from fertilizing two separate ova (eggs) in the same pregnancy. The fraternal twins are conceived after fertilizing the two eggs by two sperms, followed by the implantation in the uterus.

Down Syndrome

Down’s Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder when the individual has an extra 21 chromosome. Also known as trisomy 21, the condition leads to unique facial appearance, development delays and intellectual disability in the affected child. Interested pregnant women can test for the incidence of Down’s syndrome during the second trimester of their pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a rare condition where the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. It is most commonly seen in the fallopian tube; hence, it is alternatively known as tubal pregnancy. However, ectopic pregnancies result in an eventual miscarriage 6-16 weeks into the gestational period due to a lack of adequate blood and nutrient supply.

Effacement

Cervical effacement is the gradual thinning of the cervix during labor. Unlike cervical dilation calculated in cm, effacement is calculated in percentage (0-100). The process allows the mother to prepare for a comfortable and safe delivery.

Engage (lightening)

Also known as dropping, the developed fetus “drops” further down into the pelvis as it prepares for the delivery. The procedure typically happens a week before labor. The mother can sense the phenomenon because it causes a slight heaviness around the pelvis and is marked by a sudden change to the abdominal shape. It can also lead to a frequent urge to urinate.

Epidural

Epidural is a cocktail of pain-relieving medications injected into the epidural space in the spinal cord during active labor to alleviate the pain from the contractions. The administration of epidural reduces the sensation of the nerves in the lower half of the body, making the labor experience more bearable for the mother.

Episiotomy

Episiotomy is a surgical procedure where the surgeon makes an incision in the perineum, the area between the vaginal opening and the anus. This is done to increase the diameter and area of the vaginal opening for a more comfortable delivery. The procedure is done during the second stage of labor, preceding the actual childbirth.

External cephalic version

The external cephalic version is done in breech babies to reposition themselves from feet to head-first to promote natural birth. It is a manual and non-surgical procedure that moves the baby from a transverse position to the vertex position. This is done according to the standard medical guidelines before labor hits.

Fraternal twins

Fraternal twins are dizygotic, non-identical twins. The pregnancy results from the fertilization of two eggs by two sperms in the same pregnancy. The twins can be of the same sex or either sex. Unlike identical twins, fraternal twins don’t look similar. Fraternal twins also share half their genes, like singleton pregnancies.

Full-term

A full-term pregnancy is when the baby is born between 39-40 weeks gestation. If the baby is born before the said period, the baby is called pre-term. If the baby is born after this period, they are late-term or post-term.

High-risk pregnancy

A high-risk pregnancy is when the mother or the baby is at high risk due to physical or mental health concerns. The key markers of a high-risk pregnancy can include high blood pressure, obesity, gestational diabetes, blood disorders, thyroid issues, asthma, susceptibility to infections, etc.

Identical twins

Medically termed monozygotic twins, identical twins are formed from fertilizing a single egg that later splits into two. They are of the same sex and have 100% similar genetic profiling. They are often monochorionic, meaning they share the same placenta, but each has its amniotic sac. Identical twins are always of the same sex and look alike.

Induced labor

Labor induction is the medical induction of labor using medications or mechanical equipment. The process triggers uterine contraction, which leads to the initiation of labor in the pregnant woman. This is typically done in pregnant women who have crossed their full term of pregnancy (after 39-40 weeks).

Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)

The IUGR indicates the restricted or reduced growth of the fetus compared to its gestational age. The condition is diagnosed when the baby’s growth doesn’t match the 10th percentile of their gestational age. These babies can go full term and be delivered within 37-41 weeks of pregnancy. They are smaller in size but are physically mature.

Kegels

Kegels are common pelvic floor exercises that strengthen the woman’s uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum muscles. These muscle strengthening exercises prevent urine leakage in women after childbirth. It also strengthens the flexibility and tightness of the vagina after delivery.

Lamaze technique

The Lamaze technique highlights the importance of natural labor and childbirth. It was introduced back in the 1950s by a popular French obstetrician Dr. Fernand Lamaze, hence the name. Under this technique, pregnant woman is encouraged to trust their body’s urges during labor and delivery. It involves walking around during labor, identifying the urge to push or even following special breathing patterns to ease the process.

Lanugo

Lanuga is the soft, downy hair covering the fetus’s body in the womb. They start appearing between 13-16 weeks of pregnancy and become thicker during weeks 28-30. The hair might go away completely by the third trimester. In some cases, it can stay even until after the baby’s birth.

Linea nigra

Linea nigra is a type of hyperpigmentation that appears during the third trimester of pregnancy. Often known as the pregnancy line, this is a dark vertical line that runs down the middle of the abdomen or the pregnant woman’s bump. The line runs from the upper abdominal region till the start of the pubic hair region.

MFM

MFM or maternal-fetal medicine specialist is a doctor that specializes in high-risk pregnancy. They work with a pregnant woman’s obstetrician to develop a birth plan and involve regular consultations to avert any complications with high-risk pregnancies.

Mask of pregnancy

Mask of pregnancy is the appearance of dark, hyperpigmentation patches on a pregnant woman’s forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. It is alternatively known as melasma. The condition is prominent throughout the pregnancy and starts fading after childbirth.

Meconium

Meconium is the newborn baby’s first poop. It is marked by the discharge of thick, dark, green-colored poop. It comprises equal proportions of protein, cells, fats, bile and other intestinal secretions. Meconium is passed a few hours after the birth of the baby. It can happen a day or two after childbirth as well.

Monoamnionic twins

The monoamniotic twins are identical or semi-identical twins, sharing the same amniotic sac throughout the pregnancy. They are also monochorionic, which means that they share the same placenta. They are formed when the embryo doesn’t develop and split until after forming the amniotic sac.

Monochorionic twins

Monochorionic twins are when the twins share a single placenta instead of having individual placentas for their growth. This results in identical twins and involves complications throughout the pregnancy. Unequal sharing of nutrients and issues with the umbilical cord are common in monochorionic twins.

Monozygotic twins

Monozygotic twins are identical twins. They are formed from the fertilization of the same egg that splits into two fertilized by the sperm. They have similar genetic makeup and are always of the same sex.

Mucus plug

A mucus plug is the deposition of mucus that covers the cervical opening during the start of the pregnancy. This has multiple functions, including preventing preterm birth, preventing the risks of infections from reaching the developing fetus. The mucus plug starts loosening and is discharged as the body goes into active labor.

Multiple pregnancies

Multiple pregnancies are when the pregnant mother is carrying more than one baby at a time. It can be twins, triplets, quadruplets, and so on.

Neural tube

The neural tube is the anatomical structure formed before the developed central nervous system in the fetus. The neural tube throughout the pregnancy forms the brain, spinal cord and the backbone of the growing fetus. Lack of proper growth of the neural tube in the fetus results in an underdeveloped nervous system of the baby.

Neural tube defect

The neural tube defect marks the list of congenital disabilities that affect the fetus’s brain, spine, or spinal cord development. These defects happen during the early stages of pregnancy, especially during the first month. Some of the common neural tube defects include Spina Bifida and anencephaly.

Nuchal fold

The nuchal fold is the prominent fold seen in the back of the fetus’ neck during the second trimester. The thickness of the nuchal fold helps diagnose fetal anomalies and physical health concerns in the developing baby. The OBGYN measures the nuchal fold during the ultrasound examination during the second trimester of the pregnancy.

Obstetric anesthetists

The obstetric anesthetists are responsible for administering anesthesia or pain relief preceding, during or following childbirth. The anesthesia is administered to tackle labor pain during pregnancies requiring C-section surgeries.

Perinatologists

The Perinatologists are super-specialty doctors in obstetrics and gynecology that handle high-risk pregnancies. They take care of any lingering health concerns in the mother and the baby before, during and after the pregnancy term. They are alternatively called maternal-fetal medicine specialists or MFMs too.

Perineum

The perineum is the anatomical region between the vagina and the anus. In women, the perineum starts from the front of the vulva and extends to the anus. The tissue can tear during childbirth, leading to pain and inflammation. An episiotomy is done by incising the perineum to extend the vaginal opening for more comfortable childbirth.

Placenta

The placenta is an independent organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. This nourishing organ supplies the growing fetus with necessary nutrients, blood supply, oxygen, and biochemical compounds to promote the steady growth and development of the fetus in the womb.

Placenta previa

Placenta previa is a severe complication during pregnancy where the placenta covers the entirety of the cervix, including the opening to the cervix. This can lead to risks of preterm birth, miscarriage and vaginal bleeding in the pregnant woman. Some babies born early due to placenta previa experience birth defects, breathing issues and other developmental complications.

Placental abruption

The placental abruption is a severe pregnancy complication where the placenta detaches itself from the inner lining of the uterus. This often leads to miscarriage or preterm birth due to a lack of adequate oxygen and nutrient supply to the baby. The condition is diagnosed when a pregnant woman experiences sharp, severe abdominal pain with heavy vaginal bleeding.

Preterm labor

Preterm labor is when a pregnant woman starts to experience active signs of labor between 20-37 weeks in the pregnancy. This can lead to premature birth, imposing great congenital disabilities and risks for the baby’s health after the delivery.

Round ligament pain

A sharp pain marks the round ligament pain that pregnant women experience in the right side of the abdomen or the pelvis. The discomfort can eventually spread throughout the abdominal or pelvic region. The pain is caused when the ligaments holding the uterus in place stretch due to some sort of exertion.

Spinal block

Spinal block is a common type of regional anesthesia, like epidural, which is administered to pregnant women to help them manage the pain during labor and the baby’s delivery. It is administered using an injection directly into the spinal fluid of the mother. The effects of a spinal block last for 1-2 hours.

Teratogens

Teratogens are compounds that cause birth defects in the newborn if the mother is exposed to them during pregnancy. Some of the common sources of teratogens include recreational drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and even due to uncontrolled diabetes.

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is a type of parasitic infection that is transmitted via cat feces or even in contaminated food. The infection has severe negative implications to the health of a pregnant woman, inflicting symptoms of fever, headache, body ache, etc. The condition becomes life-threatening if the fetus contracts the infection from the mother.

Twin-to-twin transfusion

Commonly known as TTTS, it is a rare pregnancy complication in mothers carrying monochorionic twins. In this, the blood supply to both the twins is unevenly distributed, thereby one fetus getting more blood supply and the other not getting enough.

Umbilical cord

The umbilical cord is a tube-like structure that connects the developing fetus to the mother’s bloodstream. It connects the baby to the placenta to ensure adequate nutrients, water, oxygen and hormones to the developing fetus. The umbilical cord blood is enriched with life-saving stem cells as well.

Vanishing twin syndrome

Vanishing twin syndrome is an extremely rare occurrence in pregnancy where the multiple growing embryos in the twin pregnancy die in the uterus, get reabsorbed into the bloodstream, or disappear. So, although it starts as multiple pregnancies, it later converts to a singleton pregnancy. The condition usually happens when one of the fetuses miscarries in utero.

Vernix

Medically known as the birthing custard, Vernix is the sticky, thick, white-colored fluid that coats the body of the newborn baby at childbirth. It acts as a protective shield, both during fetal development and right after the baby’s birth.