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Glossary of Terms Used in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

  • Assisted Hatching: A laboratory technique where the outer shell of the embryo is thinned to facilitate implantation into the uterine wall.
  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): Medical procedures used primarily to address infertility. This includes procedures like IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and cryopreservation.
  • Blastocyst Culture: Growing embryos to the blastocyst stage (5-6 days old) for improved implantation chances.
  • Blastocyst Transfer: Transferring embryos at the blastocyst stage (5-6 days old) for improved implantation chances.
  • Blastocyst: A stage of embryo development, typically reached five to six days after fertilization, when the embryo is ready for implantation into the uterus. Late-stage embryo with an inner cell mass (developing embryo) and an outer trophectoderm (forms the placenta).
  • Catheter: A thin tube used for procedures.
  • Cleavage: Early embryo cell division.
  • Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation (COH): Hormone injections to stimulate egg production.
  • Conventional insemination: Placing sperm in a dish with eggs for natural fertilization.
  • Cryopreservation: The process of freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos for use in future ART cycles.
  • Culture Media: Nutrient-rich fluid supporting embryo growth.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Embryo implanted outside the uterus.
  • Egg Donation: The process by which a woman donates eggs for purposes of assisted reproduction or biomedical research.
  • Egg Retrieval: A surgical procedure to collect the eggs from the ovaries.
  • Embryo Culture: The process of growing embryos in the laboratory after fertilization.
  • Embryo Transfer: The process of placing an embryo into the uterus of a female with the intent to establish a pregnancy.
  • Embryo: An early stage of development that follows fertilization of an egg by a sperm.
  • Endometrial Lining: The lining of the uterus, where the embryo implants.
  • Endometrium: The lining of the uterus.
  • Estrogen: A hormone used in some IVF protocols to support the development of the endometrial lining.
  • Fertility Clinic: A medical clinic that specializes in helping couples and individuals who want to have children but are experiencing fertility issues.
  • Fertility: The natural capability to conceive children.
  • Fertility: The natural capability to conceive children.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): A hormone given to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
  • Follicle: A fluid-filled sac in the ovary that contains an immature egg (oocyte).
  • Follicular Aspiration: Retrieving eggs from the ovaries using ultrasound guidance.
  • Gestational Carrier: A woman who carries and delivers a child for another person or couple. The gestational carrier has no genetic link to the child.
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH): A hormone that controls the release of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland.
  • Gonadotropins: Hormones used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
  • Hormonal Assays: Blood tests to measure levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, important for monitoring the progress of IVF treatment.
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone injected to trigger ovulation after follicular development during IVF.
  • Implantation: The process by which an embryo attaches to the wall of the uterus.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): A process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro ("in glass").
  • Incubator: Controlled environment for embryo development.
  • Insemination: Mixing sperm with eggs to facilitate fertilization.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): Injecting a single sperm directly into an egg for cases of severe male infertility.
  • Luteal Phase Support: Medications used after embryo transfer to help support the uterine lining and increase the chances of implantation.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone involved in triggering ovulation.
  • Miscarriage: Pregnancy loss after embryo transfer.
  • Morula: Compact ball of cells formed after several rounds of cleavage.
  • Multiple Pregnancy: Carrying twins, triplets, or more after embryo transfer.
  • Oocyte Activation: Initiating the egg's activation process for fertilization.
  • Oocyte Retrieval: The actual process of collecting eggs.
  • Oocyte: A mature egg cell.
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): Excessive fluid buildup in the ovaries after COH.
  • Ovarian Stimulation: The use of medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs during one menstrual cycle.
  • Polar Bodies: Small cells expelled from the egg during maturation.
  • Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): A technique used to identify genetic defects in embryos created through IVF before pregnancy.
  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT): A procedure used to test embryos for genetic abnormalities before transferring them to the uterus.
  • Progesterone: A hormone used to prepare the lining of the uterus for implantation and to support early pregnancy.
  • Pronucleus: Sperm and egg nuclei before fusion.
  • Reproductive Endocrinologist: A doctor who specializes in the treatment of disorders related to fertility, menstruation, and menopause.
  • Semen Analysis: Assesses sperm count, motility, and morphology.
  • Sperm Donation: The process by which a man donates semen, the fluid containing sperm, to help an individual or a couple conceive a baby.
  • Sperm Washing: A process in which individual sperm are separated from the semen for use in IVF or intrauterine insemination (IUI).
  • Sperm: Male reproductive cells.
  • Surrogacy: An arrangement where a woman (surrogate mother) agrees to bear a child for another person or couple, who will become the child's parent(s) after birth.
  • Traditional Surrogacy: A form of surrogacy where the surrogate mother is also the egg donor, and therefore genetically related to the child.
  • Transcervical Catheter: Thin tube inserted through the cervix to place embryos into the uterus.
  • Transvaginal Ultrasound (TVS): Monitors follicle growth and endometrial thickness.
  • Transvaginal Ultrasound-Guided Follicular Aspiration: Using ultrasound to guide a needle through the vagina and into the follicles to aspirate eg
  • Ultrasound Guidance: Ensures accurate embryo placement.
  • Ultrasound Monitoring: The use of ultrasound to visualize the ovaries and developing follicles during treatment.
  • Ultrasound: Imaging technique used for monitoring ovulation and follicles.
  • Zygote: The initial cell formed when a sperm cell unites with an egg cell.

The Developmental Stages of a Human Egg (Oogenesis):

  • Oogonium Stage: This is the earliest stage where cells that will become eggs are formed. These cells are called oogonia and are created within the ovaries of a female fetus. Oogonia multiply by mitosis and form primary oocytes.
  • Primary Oocyte Stage: Primary oocytes start meiosis but stop at prophase I during fetal development. They remain in this suspended state until puberty.
  • Follicular Development: During a woman's reproductive years, some primary oocytes resume meiosis I every menstrual cycle. The primary oocyte, surrounded by layers of cells forming a follicle, grows and matures in the ovary.
  • Secondary Oocyte and First Polar Body Formation: Meiosis I is completed just before ovulation, forming a secondary oocyte and a small cell called the first polar body. The secondary oocyte immediately starts meiosis II but stops at metaphase II.
  • Ovulation: The secondary oocyte is released from the ovary during ovulation. If fertilization occurs, meiosis II (MII) will continue.
  • Fertilization and Ootid Formation: If a sperm cell penetrates the secondary oocyte, meiosis II resumes. The secondary oocyte divides to form an ootid and a second polar body.
  • Mature Ovum: Finally, the ootid undergoes a period of maturation to become a mature ovum, or egg, capable of being fertilized to form a zygote, the first stage of a new individual.

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