Glossary of Terms

The terms that physicians and nurses use to describe fertility treatments and procedures can be overwhelming -- and difficult to understand. This is a glossary of terms and their explanations to assist you as you consider or undergo fertility treatment.

Advanced embryo five or more days following fertilization.

Freezing embryos (fertilized eggs) or sperm for future use. In in-vitro fertilization, excess embryos can be cryopreserved for future use by the couple, thus allowing several attempts at conceiving without additional surgeries or ovulation drugs. Sperm can be stored for artificial insemination by donor or before undergoing surgery or chemotherapy for cancer.

Embryo Donation:
A couple who has cryopreserved embryos (fertilized eggs) from a previous in-vitro fertilization cycle may choose to donate these embryos to another couple if they no longer wish to conceive. The option to donate embryos is voluntary.

Embryo Transfer:
The placement of embryos (fertilized eggs) into the uterus (womb) in in-vitro fertilization. The procedure involves placing a small catheter into the uterus and gently expelling its contents into the uterine cavity. This process does not require anesthesia.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT):
In this procedure, the eggs and sperm (the gametes) are placed surgically into the fallopian tubes. Fertilization, therefore, occurs in the tubes, not in the laboratory. GIFT requires a laparoscopy. Bennett Fertility no longer performs GIFT, preferring instead to perform IVF.

GIFT requires at least one healthy fallopian tube and is indicated in cases of unexplained infertility and endometriosis. In GIFT, ovarian stimulation and oocyte retrieval are performed in a similar fashion to IVF. However, the transfer of oocytes and sperm is performed at the time of oocyte retrieval, rather than two to three days later.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):
A micromanipulation procedure in which individual sperm are injected into oocytes. This procedure is performed in cases of severe male factor infertility (very low sperm counts and/or motility) or if failure of fertilization occurred in a previous in-vitro fertilization attempt. 

Insemination Donor:
The use of sperm from another individual (donor) to allow another individual to conceive. The sperm is placed into the uterus (intrauterine insemination, IUI) or into the cervical canal (intracervical insemination, ICI). The process does not require anesthesia and usually is not uncomfortable.

The placement of husband's sperm into the wife's uterus (intrauterine insemination by husband, IUIH). This is performed primarily in cases of male factor and cervical factor infertility.

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF):
Fertilization in the laboratory. Placing sperm and eggs together in the laboratory to achieve fertilization. The overall process of in-vitro fertilization consists of:

  • ovarian stimulation (stimulating the formation of several eggs by fertility medications);
  • oocyte retrieval (the surgical removal of eggs from the ovaries);
  • fertilization of the eggs in the laboratory; and
    embryo transfer (the placement of fertilized eggs, or embryos, in the uterus).

The first delivery of a child from IVF occurred in 1978 in England. The first IVF birth at Bennett Fertility occurred in 1986. IVF is indicated for patients with damaged fallopian tubes, male factor infertility, unexplained infertility, endometriosis, and several other infertility causes.

A number of procedures performed under the microscope in order to improve fertilization of oocytes or the hatching of embryos. These procedures are performed in conjunction with IVF. They include:

  • intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where individual sperm are injected into oocytes; 
  • and  assisted hatching (AH), where the covering or shell of the embryo is cut to improve its hatching and implantation potential.

Oocyte Donation:
For patients whose ovaries are not functioning properly or at all, oocytes (eggs) from another individual (the donor) can be used. These oocyte are inseminated with the patient's husband's sperm and then implanted into the her uterus. The oocyte donor goes through the same steps as in routine IVF (medications by injection, surgical removal of oocytes). Oklahoma has a law that allows oocyte donation and clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party involved.

Oocyte Retrieval:
Surgically removing oocytes (eggs) from the ovaries. This is usually done under intravenous sedation by a needle placed into the ovary through the vagina under ultrasound guidance.

Ovarian Stimulation:
Also known as ovulation induction, entails using injectable fertility drugs such as Follistim, Gonal-F, Menopur, Repronex in order to stimulate the ovary to produce several oocytes. A natural, unstimulated cycle usually results in one mature oocyte and is unlikely to result in a pregnancy in IVF. A larger number of oocytes improves the odds of pregnancy, although it also increases the likelihood of multiple births.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT):
This procedure, rarely performed today, is a combination of IVF and GIFT. It involves surgically placing embryos (fertilized oocytes) into the fallopian tubes, usually by laparoscopy. Oocyte retrieval is followed by fertilization of the oocytes in the laboratory, then several days later by embryo transfer into the fallopian tubes.

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Oklahoma City, OK 73112 Phone: (405) 951-2277
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