Glossary A

Ablation -- separation or detachment; extirpation; eradication. 2. removal or destruction of a part, expecially by cutting. Ablation of endometriomas.

Abortion -- Spontaneous: A pregnancy loss during the first twenty weeks of gestationHabitual: When a woman has had three or more miscarriages. Incomplete: An abortion after which some tissue remains inside the uterus. A D&C must be performed to remove the tissue and prevent complications. Missed: The fetus dies in the uterus but there is no bleeding or cramping. A D&C will be needed to remove the fetal remains and prevent complications. Therapeutic: A procedure used to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus can survive on its own. Threatened: Spotting or bleeding that occurs early in the pregnancy. May progress to spontaneous abortion.

ACA -- See Anticardiolipin Antibodies.

Acrosome -- The enzymes in a sperm's head that allows it to make a hole in the coating around an egg, penetrate and fertilize the egg.

Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time (APTT)-- A coagulation test performed by adding a "partial thromboplastin" reagent (contact activating substance such as silica, phospholipid, and calcium) to citrated plasma, and measuring the time to clot (normal 25 - 35 seconds). This test is often used when patients are on medications that thin blood, such as Heparin.

ACTH -- See Adrenal Corticotropic Hormone.

Adenomyosis: The penetration and growth of endometrial tissue from the uterine lining into the myometrium (uterine muscle) is called adenomyosis or internal endometriosis.

Adenosis -- 1.) Any disease of the glands. 2.) the abnormal development or formation of gland tissue. 3.) the presence in the vagina of multiple ectopic areas of glandular (columnar) epithelium.

Adhesion -- Scar tissue occurring in the abdominal cavity, fallopian tubes, or inside the uterus. Adhesions can interfere with transport of the egg and implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

Adnexa -- the region of the pelvis that includes the ovary, fallopian tube and surrounding broad ligament. plural: adnexae

Adrenal Androgens -- Male hormones produced by the adrenal gland which, when found in excess, may lead to fertility problems in both men and women. Excess androgens in the woman may lead to the formation of male secondary sex characteristics and the suppression of LH and FSH production by the pituitary gland. Elevated levels of androgens may be found in women with polycystic ovaries, or with a tumor in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, or ovary. May also be associated with excess prolactin levels.

Adrenal Corticotropic Hormone (ACTH) -- A hormone produced by the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands. Excessive levels may lead to fertility problems.

Agglutination -- Clumping together. Sperm may clump together due to infection, inflammation or antibodies.

AH, AZH -- See Assisted Hatching.

AI -- See Artificial InseminationDonor InseminationIntrauterine Insemination (IUI).

AID -- Artificial Insemination DonorSee Artificial InseminationDonor InseminationIntrauterine Insemination (IUI).

AIH -- Artificial Insemination Homologous/Husband. See Artificial Insemination, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).

Alloimmune Factors -- Natural killer cells, leukocyte antigen cross match. Alloimmune factors can lead to pregnancy loss in two different ways. First, the body fails to recognize a pregnancy, and second, there is an abnormal immunological response to the pregnancy. A patient may be tested for leukocyte antibodies, natural killer cells, and embryo toxic factor. Possible treatments are intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) or paternal white blood cell immunization.

Amenorrhea -- The absence of menstruation. Primary Amenorrhea afflicts a woman who has never menstruated. Secondary Amenorrhea afflicts a woman who has menstruated at one time, but who has not had a period for six months or more.

Amniocentesis -- A test where amniotic fluid is aspirated to test the fetus for genetic abnormalities.

ANA -- See Anti-nuclear Antibodies.

Androgens -- Male sex hormones such as testosterone and DHEAS.

Andrologist -- A physician-scientist who performs laboratory evaluations of male fertility. May hold a Ph.D. degree instead of an M.D. Usually affiliated with a fertility treatment center working on in vitro fertilization.

Aneuploidy -- Condition of having an abnormal number of chromosomes.

Anovulation -- The absence of ovulation.

Anteverted Uterus -- Uterus that tips forward toward that bladder.

Antibodies -- Chemicals made by the body to fight or attack foreign substances entering the body. Normally they prevent infection; however, when they attack the sperm or fetus, they cause infertility. Sperm antibodies may be made by either the man or the woman.

Anticardiolipin Antibodies (ACA) -- An antibody directed against cardiolipin. These are one of the antiphospholipid group of antibodies. They are the most widely accepted and tested for immune factor. Approximately 80% of patients who have an antiphospholipid antibody problem will test positive for anticardiolipin antibodies, but the remaining 20% will test positive for one of the other six antiphospholipid antibodies. See Antiphospholipid Antibodies.

Antigen -- A substance that causes antibodies to form.

Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) -- Antinuclear antibodies react against normal components of the cell nucleus. The may be present in a number of immunologic diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain collagen diseases, and in about 1% of normal individuals. If you have systemic lupus erythematosus, it can be transmitted through the placenta to the baby, resulting in heart problems.

Antiovarian Antibodies (AOA, AVA) -- Antibodies against ovarian targets. Such antibodies would bind to important functional sites in the ovary and granulosa cells and impair the normal response.

Antiphospholipid Antibodies (APA) -- Antibodies which attack phospholipids. The presence of Antiphospholipid antibodies may indicate there is an underlying process that results in recurrent pregnancy loss. Phospholipids work to hold dividing cells together, and are necessary for growth of the placenta into the wall of the uterus. They also filter nourishment from the mother's blood to the baby, and filter the baby's waste back through the placenta. There are 7 antiphospholipid antibodies: anticardiolipin (ACA), phosphoethanolamine, phosphoinositol, phosphatidic acid, phosphoglycerol, phosphoserine, and hosphocholine. See article: Immunology may be key to pregnancy loss.

Antisperm Antibodies (ASA) -- Antibodies are produced by the immune system to fight off foreign substances,like bacteria. Antisperm antibodies attach themselves to sperm and inhibit movement and their ability to fertilize. Either the man or the woman may produce sperm antibodies.

Antithyroid Antibodies (ATA) -- Antibodies that interfere with thyroid functions, and thus with normal metabolism. They are also indicators for a predisposition of the patient to auto immunity which may involve additional autoimmune problems that interfere with the reproductive process such as ACAAPAASA.

APA -- See Antiphospholipid Antibodies.

APTT -- See Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time.

Artificial Insemination (AI) -- Placing sperm into the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes through artificial means instead of by coitus -- usually injected through a catheter or cannula after being washed. This procedure is used for both donor (AID) and husband's (AIH) sperm. This technique is used to overcome sexual performance problems, to circumvent sperm-mucus interaction problems, to maximize the potential for poor semen, and for using donor sperm. See Intrauterine Insemination.

Artificial Spermatocoele -- An artificial, surgically created pouch used to collect sperm from men with irreversible tubal blockage.

ASA -- See Antisperm Antibodies.

Asexual Reproduction --- Relating to, produced by, or involving reproduction that occurs without the union of male and female gametes, as in binary fission or budding

Asherman's Syndrome -- A condition where the uterine walls adhere to one another. Usually caused by uterine inflammation.

Aspermia -- The absence of sperm and semen.

Aspiration -- Suctioning of fluid. For example, suctioning the fluid from a follicle to retrieve an egg.

Assisted Hatching (AH, AZH) -- Thinning out the zona pellucida prior to transferring the embryo into the uterus.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) -- Several procedures employed to bring about conception without sexual intercourse, including IUIIVFGIFT and ZIFT.

Asthenozoospermia -- Low sperm motility.

Asymptomatic -- Having no symptoms.

Autoimmune -- An immune reaction against one's own tissue.

AVA, AOA -- See Antiovarian antibodies.

Azoospermia -- Absence of sperm in ejaculate.Obstructive Azoospermia: The result of obstruction in either the upper or lower male reproductive tract (epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles or ejaculatory ducts). Sperm production may be normal (which may be verified through testicular biopsy), but the obstruction is preventing the sperm from being ejaculated. Some causes of obstructive azoospermia are vasectomy, congenital absence of vas deferens, scarring from past infections, and hernia operations. Non-obstructive Azoospermia: Severely impaired or non-existent sperm production. Some sperm may be found and extracted directly from the testicles.