Infertility and Fertility Treatment Terms Defined for Medical Monday
Medical Monday. OK. How about a brush up on some of the terms that are used regularly when managing infertility and fertility treatment?
For instance, a special pet peeve of mine, especially when it comes to the media, is the term "implantation", when what is really meant is transfer. There is no such thing, in terms of a medical procedure, called an "implantation." Embryos can be transferred back to the uterus, which is carefully prepared to accomodate it or them, but it is impossible to "implant" the embryos. Maybe at some point in the future but not now. Now, the embryos are transferred back and then there's a wait to see about implantation.
Medical Definitions Related to Fertility
Here's the correct medical definitions for implantation and transfer:
Transfer: The procedure of transferring embryos back in to the endometrial cavity (womb) of a patient during an IVF cycle. It occurs on the third or fifth day after an egg retrieval. In a frozen embryo transfer (FET), the embryos are thawed and then transferred back at the appropriate time.
Implantation: The attachment and embedding of the conceptus (embryo) into the lining of the uterus.
Here's the correct explanation of where the embryo is to implant to create a healthy fetus and baby:
Endometrial Cavity: The space in side the uterus that is created by the inner lining of the uterus that responds to female hormones during the menstrual and treatment cycles. This lining, when properly prepared, forms the area of attachment and implantation of the embryo. Commonly referred to as the womb.
What is an embryo? When is it called an embryo? When does it stop being an embryo and become something else?
Embryo: The term used to describe the early stages of fetal growth. Strictly defined from the second to the ninth week of pregnancy but often used to designate any time after conception.
A woman develops one egg each month if she is ovulating normally. With medication stimulation, and under supervision, more than one egg is developed. Each egg is housed in a follicle. Here's the definition of a follicle:
Follicle: A fluid-filled pocket in the ovary that houses the microscopic egg. Each ovary has many follicles within it. Follicles start out extremely small and then grow larger under the influence of hormones (and the medications that mimic these hormones). Follicles are lined with granulosa cells which produce estrogen and nourish the oocyte (egg). Each follicle contains a single oocyte.
And here's the definition of an egg:
Oocyte: The female germ cell often called an egg.
Understanding Fertility Terms With the Help of a Medical Glossary and/or Reproductive Endocrinologist
It's simply less confusing when you understand the language of fertility and infertility treatment. Visit our medical glossary if there are more terms that you are unsure of. Or ask me here. Any one of our board certified reproductive endocrinologists will be happy to answer your fertility language questions.
Kind of funny when you think about it. I never did well with learning spanish or french. A little italian, only because I lived in Italy for several months. But the language of fertility, I caught on to that right away.
Maybe because it was a matter of survival. Or immersion. Either way, I learned it fast. Probably just the way that you are doing right now.
Let us know if you need some help. That's what we're here for.
Reproductive Cells in Action
It takes two cells to make a human embryo, which then has the possibility of becoming a human being.
From a woman, an egg is needed. The correct term for an egg is an oocyte. A woman typically ovulates once a month wherein one oocyte from alternating sides is released down the fallopian tubes into the uterus. Typically, if there are no problems or hindrances . . .
What Causes Infertility?
There are many intricate and specific sequences that have to happen at precisely the right moment for fertilization to happen. So what causes infertility? When any one of these sequences goes wrong, you can experience infertility, or sub-fertility--the inability to get pregnant after a year of trying at the correct time of the month. Many of these small problems can be adjusted correctly with the help of a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist.
The other cell that is needed to create a human embryo (and most embryos of mammals) is a single sperm from a man. Again, typically a man produces millions of sperm each time he ejaculates. Only one is needed or able to penetrate the egg.
Maybe that's the keyword here today: Typically. Infertility comes about when typically is not ocurring. It takes very little to be less than typical to cause fertility problems.
Fertility Treatment Options
The wonderful news about that is that so many of the problems that we face with infertility can actually be shifted rather easily. There are many fertility treatment options for both men and women, supporting their ability to produce healthier sperm and eggs.
Please keep in mind as well, that for those of you who have been out there in the trenches, where it's been so far from easy, that the egg and sperm have to be healthy. Yes, they do need to be healthy. With donor egg and donor sperm, you have more options than using your own or your partners cells, if that is where the problem lies. While these options are significantly more involved, the results are healthy babies and healthy families.
Every human being alive today was created the same way. Two single cells meeting. (Yes, slightly different for twins, triplets and more, still two cells meeting.)
A Fertility Glossary
Infertility Basics for today. Peruse the RMACT Fertility Glossary for an overview of more terms and basics. When it comes to understanding infertility and fertility treatment, there can be a lot to learn, but we're here to make it easier.
Infertility Basics should always include the ABC's. Here are some of the ABC's of commonly used terms for infertility treatments. Read our blog every Monday for Infertility Basics.
Common Infertilty Treatment & Diagnosis Terms
Adhesion: Scar tissue that abnormally attaches to internal organs, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, uterus or other internal organs. Adhesions can wrap up or distort these organs, limiting their movement, function and cause infertility and pain.
Aspiration: Removal of fluid and cells by suction through a needle. This technique applies to many procedures in reproductive medicine.
beta HCG: see Human Chrorionic Gonadotropin (hCG).
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone of early pregnancy that is monitored to determine viability of the gestation. This hormone is also used as an injection to induce ovulation and maturation of the oocyte (egg) in ovarian stimulation protocols.
Corpus Luteum: A special gland that forms from the ovulated follicle in the ovary. It produces progesterone during the second half of the menstrual cycle which is necessary to prepare the uterine lining for implantation. It also supports early pregnancies by secreting the necessary hormones until the placenta becomes fully functional between 8-10 weeks of gestation.
Cyst: A fluid filled structure. Cysts may be found anywhere in the body, but in reproductive medicine we primarily refer to them in the ovaries. Ovarian cysts may be normal or abnormal depending on the circumstances. Often they are just follicles that have not been fully reabsorbed from previous menstrual or treatment cycles. They are very common in both natural and stimulated cycles.
Join us tomorrow for new thoughts, new help, new ideas.