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Health Glossary: Fertility Terms

fertility glossary

Trying to conceive a baby might sound like a completely natural process that would largely take care of itself. However, it helps to have an awareness of your menstrual cycle and how your body changes throughout because this can help you know on which days you are most likely to get pregnant.

Understanding fertility terms may also be beneficial. Terms such as “ovulation,” “cervical mucus,” and “luteal phase” can become common parts of your vocabulary when you are trying to get pregnant. Many women chart their monthly cycles so they can learn their unique rhythms, which can make the process of conceiving easier.

Anovulation: Anovulation is a condition that involves a woman either rarely or never ovulating.

Artificial Insemination: Artificial insemination is a procedure in which sperm is inserted directly into the cervix, fallopian tubes, or uterus.

Assisted Reproduction Technology: ART is the term that encompasses infertility procedures such as IVF.

Basal Body Temperature: The basal body temperature is technically the lowest temperature your body reaches in a 24-hour period, usually very early in the morning. For the purposes of trying to conceive, it’s the temperature taken upon first waking in the morning. It is often used to help chart fertility cycles and ovulation.

Blastocyst: A blastocyst is the name for an embryo about five days after fertilization.

Cervical Mucus: Cervical mucus is a fluid produced by the cervix. In the days leading up to ovulation, the water content of cervical mucus increases and acidity decreases—changes that make it more hospitable to sperm.

Clomid: Clomid is a fertility drug that stimulates ovulation.

Ectopic Pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants itself outside of the uterus.

Egg: The egg is the female reproductive cell.

Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a painful health condition that occurs when tissue from the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus.

Embryo: After fertilization by the sperm and initial division, the fertilized egg becomes an embryo.

Fallopian Tubes: The fallopian tubes connect the ovaries to the uterus on opposite sides, and this is where the egg and sperm meet and fertilize.

Fertilization: When the sperm penetrates the egg and genetic material is combined, fertilization occurs.

Fertility: Fertility is the ability to become pregnant.

Fetus: From the eighth week after conception, the baby is called a fetus.

Follicle: A follicle is a group of cells in which the egg grows before being released during ovulation.

Gestation: Gestation refers to the time period from conception to birth.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin: HCG is the hormone produced during pregnancy.

Hysteroscopy: A hysteroscopy is a procedure that involves inserting an instrument through the cervix and into the uterus so a physician can see and diagnose health issues.

Infertility: Infertility is the inability to become pregnant after one year of having unprotected intercourse for women under the age of 35 (for women 35 and over, it’s the inability to become pregnant after six months).

Intrauterine Insemination: IUI is a type of artificial insemination that involves inserting sperm directly into the uterus during ovulation.

In Vitro Fertilization: IVF is another type of assisted reproduction, in which sperm and eggs are extracted, fertilization occurs in a laboratory, and then the fertilized egg is inserted into the uterus.

Live Birth: A live birth is the delivery of a baby that is breathing.

Luteal Phase: The luteal phase is the second half of the menstrual cycle. It begins after ovulation and lasts until menstruation.

Miscarriage: A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss and ending of a pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation.

Multiple Birth: When a pregnancy results in the birth of more than one baby, it’s called a multiple birth.

Multiple Gestation: Multiple gestation is a pregnancy that includes more than one fetus.

Ovulation: Ovulation is the release of an egg from the ovaries.

Ovulatory Dysfunction: Ovulatory dysfunction may be diagnosed when a woman has problems with egg production.

Ovum: An ovum is another name for an egg.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy is the development of a fetus into a baby inside the uterus. It’s typically documented and diagnosed with an ultrasound that shows a gestational sac in the uterus.

Sonogram: A sonogram is the use of high-frequency sound waves to see inside the body.

Sperm: Sperm are the male reproductive cells and are released in semen.

Uterus: The uterus is the womb, which is the main organ for female reproduction.

Zygote: A zygote is another name for a fertilized egg.

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Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay Meisel is the Head of Content at Ava. She has over a decade of experience writing about science, technology, and health, with a focus on women's health and the menstrual cycle. Her work has been featured on The Fertility Hour, The Birth Hour, The Breakthrough Journal, and The Rumpus.

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