Fertility Terms - Demystified

From amenorrhea to zygote, there are a lot of fertility terms that come up as you go through your fertility journey. The definition of some of these words may be obvious to you, while others leave you scratching your head. Look no further. From A to Z, we’ve created a fertility terms cheat sheet to help you define and understand all things fertility. (without spending an hour on Google).

Fertility Terms -- A through D


Agglutination — In short, this is when sperm clump together

Amenorrhea — The absence of menstruation

Anovulation — The failure of the ovaries to release an egg. Chronic anovulation is considered a common cause of infertility.

Anti-Müllerian Hormone — A hormone produced by ovarian follicles that can be tested to determine the ovarian reserve

Antisperm Antibody Test — A test that identifies special proteins, known as antibodies, that fight against a man’s sperm

Artificial Insemination — The introduction of sperm into a female’s uterus or cervix by means other than sexual intercourse. This can be done at a fertility clinic through In Vitro Fertilization or at home using the Stork OTC.

Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) — An all-encompassing term for infertility treatments that use both the female egg (ovum) and sperm

Azoospermia — A complete absence of sperm from semen (the fluid ejected during male orgasm)


Basal Body Temperature (BBT) — Your lowest daily body temperature (usually when you first wake up). Tracking your BBT is part of the Fertility Awareness Method.

Blastocyst — About 6 days after a zygote is fertilized, it enters the uterus. It is then known as a blastocyst.

Cervical Mucus — Fluid released by the cervix that makes it easier for sperm to reach the egg. The amount of cervical mucus you produce increases as you begin to ovulate.

Clomid — A brand name of a prescription medication used to treat infertility by stimulating ovulation

Corpus Luteum — A formation at the base of the ovarian follicle that secretes progesterone and regulates the process of menstruation

Cryopreservation — The process of preserving tissue and cells (namely, eggs that have been extracted for freezing) at sub-zero temperatures

Cycle Day (CD) — A measurement used to track menstruation and ovulation. CD1 refers to the first day of the menstruation cycle. 


Days Post 3-Day Transfer (DP3DT) — A measurement for IVF (in vitro fertilization) patients to discern when they should take a pregnancy test

Diminished Ovarian Reserve — A condition generally caused by aging, resulting in compromised fertility due to a reduced number of eggs in the ovaries

Donor Eggs — Eggs provided from a fertile donor for the purposes of assisted reproduction (AR) 

Fertility Terms -- E through H


Ectopic Pregnancy — A pregnancy where the fertile egg implants outside of the uterus, most often in the fallopian tube

Egg — The female reproductive cell, also called the ovum

Egg Retrieval (ER) — A process where the eggs are removed from the ovaries to enable reproduction outside of the body

Embryo — A fertilized egg in the process of development, usually from the 2nd to the 8th week

Embryo Transfer — The part of the assisted reproduction process where embryos are placed into the uterus to establish pregnancy

Endometriosis — An often painful disorder where the tissue of the uterine lining (endometrium) grows on other pelvic organs

Endometrium — The tissue of the uterine lining, a mucous membrane that thickens to allow for implantation of an embryo and sheds during menstruation

Essure — A permanent, irreversible implant in the fallopian tubes to prevent fertilization, a surgical sterilization procedure for women

Estrogen — The primary female sex hormone, responsible for regulating the development and function of the female reproductive system 


Fallopian Tubes — Two tubes in the female body that connect the ovaries to the uterus. When you ovulate, your mature egg waits in the fallopian tube to be fertilized by sperm

Fertilization — The process that occurs when the sperm and egg join and create a zygote, or fertilized egg

Fertility Awareness Method — A birth control method based on tracking your menstrual cycles to predict when you’ll ovulate

Fetus — An unborn baby, an embryo 8 weeks after conception

Follicle — The part of the ovaries that produces and releases the eggs

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) — A hormone that helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) —The process in which frozen embryo created from in vitro fertilization (IVF) are thawed and transferred to a woman's uterus for gestation 


Gamete — The male or female cell that contains half of the genetic material and fuses with another gamete to create the zygote which then develops into an embryo

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) — A process of assisted reproductive technology (ART) where the egg gamete is placed in the Fallopian tube with the sperm gamete

Gestational Carrier — A woman who carries an embryo created via in vitro fertilization (IVF) to birth, utilizing the egg and sperm of the intended parents or donors, not the biological mother

Gestational Sac — The first sign of pregnancy that can be seen via ultrasound, a structure within the uterus where the embryo develops

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRh) — A hormone produced in the hypothalamus, also known as gonadoliberin, that stimulates the production of hormones necessary for reproduction.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonists and Antagonists — A group of drugs used to treat endometriosis 


Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HcG) — A hormone produced by the placenta to nourish the egg after implantation, used to detect early pregnancy

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) — A radiologic procedure to investigate the shape and status of the uterine cavity, entails the injection of a radiopaque material into the cervical canal and a fluoroscopy 

Hysteroscopy (HSC) — A procedure where a thin lighted tube (hysteroscope) is inserted through the vaginal opening to visually examine the cervix and interior of the uterus in order to diagnose and treat abnormal causes of bleeding  


Infertility — The inability to conceive pregnancy, usually diagnosed after a year of trying

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) —  A type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) where a single sperm is inserted directly into a mature egg to facilitate fertilization, used to treat sperm-related infertility issues

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) — A fertility treatment that involves manually inserting the sperm inside of a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) — An assisted reproductive technology that involves retrieving the sperm, extracting the egg and manually combining them to be fertilized outside of the body. The resulting embryo is then placed in the uterus for gestation.

Fertility Terms -- L through P


Laparoscopy — Surgery using a thin lighted tube inserted through an incision in the abdomen to examine organs and obtain tissue samples

LH Surge — A rise in the luteinizing hormone that stimulates ovarian production, used to calculate optimal fertility

Luteal Phase — The phase of the menstrual cycle after ovulation and before the shedding of the uterine lining, during the phase the uterus prepares for implantation of an embryo

Luteal Phase Defect (LPD) — A common condition affecting fertility where the uterine lining does not respond properly to progesterone or the ovaries are not producing a sufficient amount of progesterone, and the embryo is unable to implant.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) — A hormone that triggers ovulation, produced in the pituitary gland  


Male Factor Infertility — The inability to get pregnant due to an issue with the male partner’s reproductive health

Miscarriage — Spontaneous end to a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation

Morphology — The study of the forms and structures of organisms, the study of the development of words and language

Motility — The ability to move spontaneously and actively, sperm exhibit flagellar motility (swimming action) 


Oligospermia — Low sperm count, a condition of male factor infertility

Oocyte — Immature egg cell

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) — A painful medical condition sometimes caused by taking hormone medication as a fertility treatment to increase egg production 

Ovarian Reserve — The quantity of eggs present in the ovaries

Ovarian Stimulation — The process of inducing ovarian follicle activity to produce more mature eggs for an egg retrieval

Ovulation — The process of the release of a mature egg from the ovaries into the fallopian tube to be available for fertilization

Ovulation Predictor Kit — A store-bought urine test for the presence of a surge in the luteinizing hormone, which usually occurs two days before ovulation, enabling couples to attempt fertilization at optimal times.

Ovum — The Latin word for egg 


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) — An infection of a woman’s reproductive organs

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) — A hormonal disorder that can affect fertility

Postcoital Test — A test previously used to determine fertility, where the doctor would retrieve a sample of the woman's cervical mucus within 24 hours of unprotected intercourse and examine the activity of the sperm as a means to indicate the likelihood of impregnating. Has been proven inaccurate

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) — A procedure where IVF embryos are screened for genetic diseases, used to increase likelihood of viable pregnancy

Premature Ovarian Failure — Early menopause, the loss of normal egg function before the age of 40

Progesterone — A female hormone that prepares the uterus to sustain the processes of implantation and gestation of fertilized eggs

Fertility Terms -- R through T


Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) — The loss of two or more pregnancies

Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) — A doctor specializing in fertility and function of the reproductive organs

Retrograde Ejaculation — When semen enters the bladder instead of leaving the penis after orgasm, can be a cause of male factor infertility

Round Spermatid Nucleus Injection (ROSNI) — A procedure to treat infertility in males (this is fairly uncommon) 


Semen Analysis (SA) — A test tha tis done to evaluate male fertility, an examination of the quantity, shape, and movement of sperm

Sonogram — The picture produced from an ultrasound

Sperm — The male reproductive cell that combines with the egg to form an embryo

Superovulation — The drug-induced production of multiple eggs for use in assisted reproductive technologies (ART) 


Testicular Sperm Extraction (TSE) — The process of removing sperm from the testicles for assisted reproductive technologies, recommended for men who cannot produce sperm via ejaculation

Testosterone —The primary male sex hormone

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) — The hormone that stimulates the thyroid production of the hormones that regulate metabolism, TSH levels indicate the health of the thyroid

Tubal Factor Infertility — Infertility in women caused by damage to the fallopian tubes preventing the sperm from reaching the egg

Tubal Ligation — A sterilization procedure where a woman's fallopian tubes are blocked, also referred to as “getting... tubes tied” 

Fertility Terms -- U through Z


Unexplained Infertility — A condition where there are no medical explanations for the inability to get pregnant

Uterus — Womb, the primary reproductive organ of the female body where conception occurs and embryos gestate until birth


VaricoceleEnlarged varicose veins in the scrotum, can cause low sperm production or infertility

Vasectomy — A sterilization procedure for men where the tubes that carry sperm are cut or blocked, preventing the sperm from leaving the body 


Zygote — A fertilized egg

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) — Assisted reproductive procedure where the fertilized egg is placed into the Fallopian tubes via laparoscopy

Whew! That was a lot of fertility terms. It's no wonder why people get confused. You can refer to this fertility terms guide as often as you need to!

Interested in learning more? Check out these resources on the Stork OTC blog:

Looking for a more affordable fertility option? Cervical cap insemination puts the sperm at the opening of the cervix, as close as possible, to swim up through to an egg, optimizing your chances of becoming pregnant. Learn more about The Stork OTC