fertility

Fertility Terms, Explained

February 12, 2019
Katherine Flemming

It's a whole new world...of fertility terms. There's an entire realm of medicine dedicated to helping women get pregnant (and help men assist in the process) through advances in technology, and a rich glossary to accompany it. From the seemingly judgy terms (incompetent cervix, geriatric pregnancy, anyone?) to the confusing (missed miscarriage), this list of important fertility terms will be updated regularly to keep you informed. 

Adenomyosis: A condition that interferes with a woman carrying a successful pregnancy. Gabrielle Union recently revealed that she has adenomyosis, which is one of the reasons behind her nine miscarriages.

Chemical Pregnancy: When your body exudes symptoms of a pregnancy, but the egg hasn't been fertilized. 

Elective Egg Freezing: When women decide to freeze their eggs for no medical reason. The New York Times has reported that more than 20,000 eggs; a 1,500% rise between 2009-2016. And between 2017 and 2018, a Canadian clinic noticed a 150% increase in elective egg freezing at their office.

Ectopic Pregnancy: When an embryo implants outside the uterus, such as the fallopian tube. It can be extremely dangerous and in rare cases, life-threatening.

Follicle: This refers to the group of cells that develop in the ovary; this space is responsible for releasing the egg. 

Follicle Stimulating Hormones: This hormone is the driver that produces the ovaries to release eggs. If you're testing your ovarian reserve, some bloodwork will determine your FSH level.

Geriatric Pregnancy: For a woman over 35, this term is used to categorize her as higher risk. Occasionally, a doctor or midwife will suggest additional testing to ensure a health pregnancy.

Incompetent Cervix: A term (sometimes called cervical insufficiency) refers to weak cervical tissue being unable to sustain a pregnancy. Without a medical procedure called a cervical cerclage (which is a stitch to keep the cervix closed), a pregnancy may lead to a late miscarriage or preterm labour. Read about Jen's experience with having one, here: 

Infertility: Typically, doctors define this as two healthy people under 30 (but some go up to 35) who haven't been able to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse. For over 35, doctors often narrow that window to six months.

IVF: When the sperm and egg and blended outside of the woman's body, then re-inserted in a clinical setting.

IUI: When the sperm inserted into a woman's body to help boost the number of sperm getting closer to the egg (and leading to a successful conception).

 

Invivo conception: When a sperm and egg are united within a fertile female, then removed and transferred into an infertile patient.

Missed Miscarriage: When you've suffered a miscarriage, but it happened prior to the examination and discovery of the miscarriage.

Molitity: How quickly the sperm move—IUI can help facilitate their swim speed.

Oligospermia: When a man doesn't have enough sperm, making fertilization a challenge.

Oocytes: The medical term for eggs that haven't been fertilized. So you can just say eggs, or feel fancy and say oocytes

Ovarian Reserve: The amount of eggs in a woman's body and the potential for those eggs to lead to a successful pregnancy. Read more about it here.

PCOS: A hormonal condition that leads to abnormalities in a woman's cycle, and may include changes to hair, skin and weight—with many women suffering from painful ovarian cysts. It's said to be one of the biggest causes behind infertility.

Premature Ovarian Failure: The term that denotes a lower than normal (for the age) amount of viable eggs in a woman's body, often resulting in early menopause and infertility.

Surrogacy: When a woman agrees to carry an embryo for a couple who cannot get pregnant. Her DNA is not involved; her womb is working to house and grow the baby. Kim Kardashian's 3rd and 4th child are surrogacy babies.

Social Egg Freezing: The more up-to-date term for elective egg freezing. When women decide to freeze their eggs as a way of insurance, delaying the baby making process and putting it on ice (literally).

Vitrification: The method of freezing eggs and embryos into a glass-like texture, to preserve the cell contents more efficiently when thawing.