Glossary

  • Access Fertility
    Provider of specially designed payment programmes and treatment plans.  You can find out more details about these programmes from the Agora Clinic. Alternatively, you can visit www.accessfertility.co.uk or telephone: 01865 801000.
  • Acne
    a common skin condition, causing spots on the face, back and chest
  • Agora Friends
    Agora Friends is our closed Facebook group. The main focus is on listening and opening up a dialogue. Many patients find this is a great way to meet other people and discover they’re not alone on their journey to parenthood. Please contact us if you want to find out how to join Agora Friends.
  • Alopecia
    hair loss
  • Altruistic donor (sperm or eggs)
    someone who ‘gifts’ egg or sperm without payment
  • Anaesthesia/anaesthetic
    Anaesthesia/anaesthetic: literally means ‘loss of sensation’; a state where you are given medication to make you unconscious, relaxed, and pain free
  • Anonymous
    someone who is not identified by name
  • Anovulation
    Anovulation is when the ovaries do not release an oocyte during a menstrual cycle. Therefore, ovulation does not take place.
  • Antenatal
    before birth
  • Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH)
    a hormone released by the ovaries and relating to the development of follicles. Testing for this hormone can help to estimate the remaining egg supply (or ovarian reserve)
  • Antisperm antibodies
    substance produced by men that works against sperm by preventing it from reaching and fertilising an egg
  • Assisted reproduction/conception
    using medical techniques to enable the conception and birth of a child
  • Azoospermia
    where a man's semen contains no sperm
  • Biopsy
    the removal of a tissue sample for examination to diagnose disease
  • Blastocyst
    an early stage embryo this is the stage when it moves into the uterus for implantation. See Information sheet - Blastocyst transfer
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
    a way of measuring body fat based on height and weight
  • Caesarean section
    an operation to deliver a baby by making an incision (cut) through the mother’s abdomen and womb
  • Catheter
    a thin, sterile tube
  • Cerebral palsy
    a group of non-progressive and permanent neurological disorders affecting movement and coordination
  • Cervix
    the neck (lower part) of the womb which forms a narrow canal that opens into the vagina
  • Chemotherapy
    medication used to treat disease (especially cancer)
  • Chlamydia
    a bacterial infection spread via sex or having contact with semen or vaginal fluid
  • Chromosomal abnormality
    an extra, missing, or abnormal part of the chromosomal DNA. Chromosomes are structures that contain genes. Genes affect the development of function of our bodies including physical characteristics and how susceptible we are to disease. Tests can be carried out to find (screen) chromosomal abnormalities in the developing baby
  • Conception
    the process of becoming pregnant (conceiving)
  • Coronavirus
    Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
  • Coronavirus symptoms
    Public Health England (PHE) has outlined the symptoms of the coronavirus as follows:Fever greater than 37.8 C new persistent cough shortness of breath and breathing difficulties
  • Cryopreservation
    freezing (vitrification) and storage of eggs, sperm, embryos or tissue
  • Ectopic pregnancy
    An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants and develops in one of your fallopian tubes instead of in the womb. This can happen after natural conception or IVF. See Information sheet - Ectopic pregnancy
  • Embryo
    an unborn child that is developing in the womb
  • Embryo transfer
    An embryo transfer is the last part of the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process when the embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus.
  • Embryoscope
    An incubator that provides continuous time-lapse monitoring of the embryos whilst they grow in the laboratory
  • Endometrial Receptor Assay (ERA)
    The ERA is a genetic test developed to check that your womb lining is perfectly synchronised to receive embryos in an IVF cycle. It uses a technology called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) to measure endometrial receptivity.
  • Endometriosis
    Endometriosis is when the type of tissue that normally grows inside the womb also grows outside on other organs in the body. See - Information sheet - Endometriosis
  • Epididymis
    a coiled tube within the scrotum that stores sperm, transporting it from the testes to the vas deferens (the tube that takes sperm from the testes to the penis)
  • Fallopian tubes
    tubes along which an egg passes from the ovaries to the womb. Women have two fallopian tubes
  • Fetus
    the result of fertilisation at 8 completed weeks after fertilisation until the end of the pregnancy
  • Fibroids
    benign (non-cancerous) tumours made of muscle and fibrous tissue that grow in and around the womb
  • Follicle
    a fluid-filled sac that sits just beneath the surface of the ovary. The oocyte and cells within it produce hormones. It increases in size before ovulation then ruptures to release the egg
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
    a hormone that regulates the functions of the ovaries and testes. Lack of this hormone can cause infertility or subfertility in men and women
  • Follicle tracking
    scans and tests (urine or blood) to check the development of follicles in the ovaries
  • Follicles
    small sacs of fluid within the ovary where eggs develop
  • Forceps
    a medical instrument, like pincers or tongs, used for encircling a baby’s head to help with delivery
  • Genetic disorder
    (see inherited disease) also called hereditary disease or disorder, a disease that is caused by changes or mutations in the DNA that make up a gene. Examples include cystic fibrosis
  • Gestational diabetes
    high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (especially in the third trimester) in women who have not previously been diagnosed with diabetes
  • Gynaecological/gynaecology
    relating to the health of a woman’s reproductive system (vagina, womb, ovaries) and the breasts
  • Gynaecology oncology
    relating to the health of a woman’s reproductive system when it is affected by cancer
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
    a hormone produced during pregnancy
  • HFEA
    The Human Fertilisation Embryo Authority is the Governing Body
  • High blood pressure
    where the force of blood against your artery walls is too high and can cause health problems including coronary heart disease
  • High cholesterol
    a condition where there are high numbers of lipids (fatty substances) in the blood which increases the risk of serious health conditions
  • Hirsutism
    excessive growth of thick dark hair in women on the face and body; it can be a sign of a hormonal imbalance or a side-effect of certain medications
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
    medication that contains female hormones to help treat menopausal symptoms
  • Hot flushes
    a common symptom of the menopause caused by fluctuating amounts of oestrogen in the body
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
    a group of viruses that affect the skin and moist membranes in the body including the cervix. In some cases it can cause cancer of the cervix (neck of the womb)
  • Hysterosalpingogram
    a type of X-ray used to examine the inside of the womb and fallopian tubes
  • Hysteroscopy
    the use of a thin tube with a telescope at the end to examine the inside of the womb; it can enable doctors to diagnose and in some cases treat conditions including fibroids and polyps
  • Immunological/immunology
    a branch of medicine dealing with the immune system, the complex network of cells, tissues and organs that defend the body against germs
  • Implantation failure
    when an embryo fails to implant in the womb. Recurrent implantation failure is diagnosed when a pregnancy has not been achieved after at least three cycles of in vitro fertilisation (IVF)
  • Incubator
    a device where eggs and embryos are kept that is clean and maintains a constant temperature
  • Infertility
    not being able to become pregnant after 2 years of regular sexual activity
  • Influenza
    Influenza, or flu, is a viral respiratory infection which is more common in the winter. See - Information sheet - Influenza
  • Inherited disease or disorder
    (see genetic disorder) a disease that is caused by changes or mutations in the DNA that make up a gene. Examples include cystic fibrosis
  • Insemination
    directly inserting sperm into the womb to achieve pregnancy
  • Insulin
    a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows the body to use sugar (glucose) which is converted from carbohydrates into energy. It stops the blood sugar level from getting too high or too low
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
    a form of IVF where a single healthy sperm is injected directly into the centre of each egg to assist fertilisation.
  • Intrauterine insemination
    IUI injects sperm into a uterus to decrease the sperm’s travel time to the egg.
  • IONA test
    an advanced screening test which offers 99% accuracy in detecting pregnancies affected by Down’s, Edwards’s and Patau’s syndromes.
  • Laparoscopy/laparoscopic surgery
    Laparoscopy / laparoscopic surgery: a type of minimally invasive procedure where a thin tube with a camera (laparoscope) is inserted through a small cut in the abdominal wall to diagnose and treat a number of conditions
  • Libido
    sex drive
  • Luteinising hormone (LH)
    essential for fertility, this hormone regulates the ovaries in women and testes in men. It is needed to produce oestradiol and is also responsible for ovulation after which it stimulates the production of progesterone if an egg is fertilised. High levels of LH can be associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • menopause
    The menopause is when a woman stops ovulating and having periods, so is unlikely to become pregnant.
  • Menstrual cycle
    the cycle of changes affecting the ovaries and womb to prepare for ovulation, fertilisation of an egg, and pregnancy
  • Micro epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)
    a technique used to find and extract sperm
  • Miscarriage
    Miscarriage (defined as the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks) is very common, affecting around one in every five pregnancies. See - Information sheet - Miscarriage
  • Night sweats
    excessive sweating associated with hormonal imbalances, especially during the menopause when it is caused by lower levels of oestrogen
  • Obesity
    describes someone who is overweight with excess body fat which can have a negative effect on their health
  • Obstetric
    branch of medicine that deals with pregnancy and the period before and after childbirth (antenatal care)
  • Oestradiol
    essential for ovulation, as well as for the thickening of the lining of the womb (endometrium) so that an egg can attach to it if it is fertilised. Oestradiol is made by the ovaries and levels decrease with age, particularly during the menopause
  • Oestrogen
    a female hormone produced in the ovaries along with progesterone. It is essential for female characteristics, sexual function, bone health, ovulation and reproduction
  • Ovarian cyst
    a fluid-filled sac that forms on the ovary
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
    can be a serious over-reaction to the fertility drugs that are used to stimulate the ovaries during IVF cycles
  • Ovarian reserve
    the ability of the ovaries to produce egg cells that can be fertilised
  • Ovary
    one of a pair of ovaries, women’s reproductive glands; they are involved in producing the sex hormones (including oestrogen and progesterone) that control reproduction. They contain follicles, which can develop into eggs to be released each month during the menstrual cycle, ready to travel down the fallopian tube for fertilisation by sperm to develop into an embryo
  • Ovulation
    this is when the follicle releases an egg, which travels down the fallopian tube to be fertilised by sperm
  • Ovulation predictor kit
    a home kit to identify when the woman is most fertile. It detects a surge in the luteinising hormone (LH), which happens about 36 hours before ovulation
  • Patient Support
  • Pelvic ultrasound scan
    a type of scan that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the female pelvis
  • Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA)
    a technique used to find and extract sperm
  • Pessaries
    (for fertility treatment) a small soluble block of medication that can be inserted into the vagina or anus
  • Placenta
    an organ grown in the womb during pregnancy to feed the growing fetus
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects a woman's hormone levels. Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant.
  • Polyps
    small growths on mucous membrane, often in the lining of the womb (endometrium) or the cervix
  • Pregnancy hormone (hCG)
    see hCG
  • Pregnancy test
    this measures the amount of hCG (pregnancy hormone) in the urine
  • Ultrasound scan (pregnancy)
    a scan that uses sound waves to check the health of a baby in the womb and detect any abnormalities
  • Premature labour
    going into labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy
  • Progesterone
    produced in the ovaries, this hormone helps the body to prepare for conception and pregnancy, as well as regulating periods
  • Prolactin
    produced by the pituitary gland, this hormone enables milk production as well as other functions including playing an essential role in the metabolism and regulating the immune system. Very high levels can decrease the production of oestrogen and affect the menstrual cycle
  • Quarantined
    separated and isolated for a while to check for disease
  • Radiotherapy
    a treatment using high energy radiation, often used in cancer therapy
  • Recurrent implantation failure
    see implantation failure
  • Scrotum
    a small sac of skin and muscle that contains the testicles
  • Self-insemination
    to inject semen into the vagina in order to achieve a pregnancy
  • Semen
    fluid secreted by the male reproductive organs which contains sperm
  • Speculum
    a medical instrument that holds the vagina open during an internal examination
  • Sperm bank
    a place where semen is stored to be used in artificial insemination
  • Sperm motility
    Sperm motility refers to the movement and swimming of sperm. Poor sperm motility means that the sperm do not swim properly, which can lead to male infertility.
  • Sperm retrieval
    procedures to extract sperm for fertility including MESA, PESA, TESA, TESE
  • Spontaneous abortion
    Spontaneous abortion refers to pregnancy loss at less than 20 weeks' gestation in the absence of elective medical or surgical measures to terminate the pregnancy. The term “miscarriage” is synonymous and often is used with patients because the word “abortion” is associated with elective termination.
  • Sterilisation (vasectomy)
    a procedure to cut the vas deferens (the tube that takes sperm from the testes to the penis) so sperm cannot be ejaculated during sex. It is a permanent type of contraception
  • Stonewall
    Stonewall is a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights charity in the United Kingdom, named after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village. It is the largest LGBT rights organisation in Europe.https://www.stonewall.org.uk/
  • Stroke
    an interruption of blood supply to the brain, resulting in lack of oxygen and the sudden death of cells in one area of the brain
  • Testes
    male reproductive glands that produce and store sperm
  • Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA)
    a technique used to find and extract sperm
  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
    a technique used to find and extract sperm
  • Testicular tissue
    tissue surrounding the testes
  • Testosterone
    low levels of this male hormone suggest a man may have decreased fertility
  • thyroid hormone level
    Thyroid hormone levels are measured by a simple thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test. It is important that TSH is at an optimal level, as it affects ovulation; up to 5% of women struggling to conceive have abnormal thyroid hormone levels. Thyroid hormone levels are also important in the development of the foetus, as they are crucial in growth.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound scan
    used to carry out a pelvic ultrasound scan. You will be asked to empty your bladder first, before lying on your back with your legs apart where they can rest in specially designed holders. The slim ultrasound probe will then be covered and lubricated before being gently inserted into the vagina. The image appears on a screen and the probe is moved gently about to identify the individual structures so that measurements and images can be taken
  • Type 2 diabetes
    a long-term condition that affects the body’s ability to break down (metabolise) sugar. It may be treated by modifying the diet or by being prescribed insulin
  • Unexplained infertility
    Causes of infertility can be due to a number of factors affecting the man or woman, and in some cases it can be a combination of factors. When all the tests reveal normal results, this means that the reason for infertility is ‘unexplained’.
  • Uterus
    the organ in a woman where babies are conceived and grow until birth
  • Vasectomy
    a procedure to cut the vas deferens (the tube that takes sperm from the testes to the penis) so sperm cannot be ejaculated during sex. It is a permanent type of contraception
  • Vitrification
    a type of technology used at the Agora to freeze embryos, which are kept in liquid nitrogen storage at -196°C. At this temperature all biological activity in the embryo stops and it will remain stable for many years. Current regulations allow us to store embryos for up to 10 years and these can be used at a later date in Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycles
  • Vulva
    the external genital organs of a woman
  • Womb
    the organ in a woman where babies are conceived and grow until birth.
  • Zift technique
    when a fertilised embryo is transferred into the fallopian tube instead of the womb
  • Zika virus
    Zika virus is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. Symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Symptoms typically last for 2–7 days
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)
    when a fertilised embryo is transferred into the fallopian tube instead of the womb