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glossary of terms

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Adhesions - Scar tissues that attach to the surfaces of organs.


Anovulation - A condition in which a woman does not ovulate (produce and release eggs). Menses may still occur.

ART (Artificial Reproductive Technology) - Any procedure that is outside of the natural act of intercourse.  

  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) - The introduction of specially prepared sperm directly into the uterus through the cervix.

  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - A procedure in which one or more eggs, each removed from a ripe follicle, is fertilized by a sperm outside the human body.


Basal Body Temperature - Lowest normal body temperature under conditions of complete rest. It is tracked in the early morning prior to any activity


Cervical Mucus - Secretions produced by the cervix. The thickness of the mucus varies according to the phase of the menstrual cycle. In the days just before ovulation, the mucus is easily penetrable by sperm.

Cervix - The lower section and opening of the uterus that protrudes into the vagina. Sperm pass through the cervix into the uterus during intercourse. It dilates during labor to allow the passage of the infant.

Chemical Pregnancy - A very early pregnancy detectable only by a blood test for hCG. The hCG level in the blood rises high enough to yield a positive pregnancy test, but then stops rising and does not lead to a clinical pregnancy, but may result in a very early miscarriage.

Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid/Serophene) - A synthetic drug used to stimulate production of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. Often used to treat milder forms of ovulation failure or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). *This drug is used with careful supervision and consideration of proper dosage.

Corpus Luteum - Remnant of a follicle after ovulation. It releases progesterone, a hormone that preserves the uterine lining.


Doula - non-medical professional that emotional and practically supports women in preparation for birth, during labor and postpartum. A doula can also provide support if a women experiences miscarriage or still birth.


Early Pregnancy Loss -  Loss of a pregnancy that occurs in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy; also called a miscarriage.

Ectopic Pregnancy - A pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterine cavity (usually in the fallopian tube, the ovary or the abdominal cavity). May require surgical intervention or use of medications (Methotrexate) to stop growth.

Embryo - The baby developing in the early stages of growth, from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.

Endometriosis - The presence of endometrial tissue (the uterine lining) in areas outside of the uterus such as the tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity. This condition can cause painful menstruation and infertility.

Endometrium - The glandular membrane lining the uterus where implantation occurs.

Epididymis – An organ in the male that lies behind the testicles where sperm are stored, nourished, and matured.

Estrogen - A group of female hormones responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics. Estrogen is produced mainly by the ovaries from the onset of puberty until menopause.



FABMs Fertility Awareness Based Methods.

Fallopian Tube - Either of a pair of tubes that conduct eggs from an ovary to the uterus. Natural fertilization takes place in the outer third of the tube as an egg travels.

Fertilization – Joining of an egg and a sperm with the fusion of genetic material. 

Fibroid/Myoma - A non-cancerous muscle tumor found within the wall of the uterus.

Follicle - Fluid-filled sac on the ovary that (usually) contains a ripening egg. The follicle can release an egg at ovulation. 

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – A hormone produced by the pituitary gland which stimulates the ovaries to produce maturing egg cells that secretes estrogen.

Follicular Phase - The portion of the menstrual cycle when ovarian follicle development takes place, (usually the first 14 or so days after menses begins).



Genital - relating to the external sex organs.



Hormone - A chemical substance produced in the body that stimulates activity of other organs.

Human Chronic Gonadotropin (hCG) - A hormone secreted by the placenta that preserves the pregnancy by prolonging the life of the corpus luteum and stimulating progesterone production. A pregnancy test is positive when hCG is detected.

Hysterectomy - The removal of the uterus. A partial hysterectomy removes the uterus including, in some cases, the cervix. A total hysterectomy also removes the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG, Hysterogram, Tubogram) - An X-ray procedure used to determine whether the fallopian tubes are open and capable of functioning properly. The physician injects dye into the uterus through the cervix. The dye passes through the tubes if they are open. An HSG can also reveal information such as the configuration of the uterus, irregularities, and the presence of fibroids.

Hysteroscopy - A surgical procedure in which a telescope-like device is inserted through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus. This procedure is sometimes performed in conjunction with a laparoscopy.



Implantation - The embedding of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus. This occurs 6-8 days after fertilization. 

Infertility - The inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy after one year of regular unprotected sexual relations. *Infertility is a symptom of an underlying issue causing the inability to conceive.



Laparoscopy - A surgical procedure in which a telescope-like device is inserted through a small incision near the navel to view the pelvic cavity, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.

LH Surge - A spontaneous release of large amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) during a woman's menstrual cycle. This normally results in the release of a mature egg from a follicle (ovulation). Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs) measure LH in the urine.

Luteal Phase - The days of a menstrual cycle following ovulation and ending with menses (usually lasting between 11 and 16 days).

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) - A hormone that causes the ovary to release a mature egg (ovulation). LH is secreted by the anterior pituitary. In the female, LH stimulates progesterone production after ovulation has occurred. In the male, LH stimulates testosterone production.

Midwife - A health professional who cares for the woman before, during and after pregnancy. The education and training of a midwife is similar to a nurse.


Miscarriage - Loss of a pregnancy.


Menopause - the end of a woman’s fertile stage in her life.


Menstruation - bleeding from the uterus following a definitive peak marking the end of that previous cycle and beginning of the next cycle. This occurs 11-16 days after ovulation.


NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology) - Women’s health science that monitors and maintains a woman’s reproductive and gynecological health. It provides medical and surgical treatments that corporate completely with the reproductive system. 



Ovulation - Release of a mature egg from a follicle from the ovary. 

Papanicolaou Smear (Pap Smear) - A screening test to evaluate the cells of the cervix to determine whether they are normal or cancerous. 


Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - Inflammatory disease of the pelvis, often caused by infection, which can lead to infertility.

PMDD - Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, similar to PMS, with more serious symptoms. PMDD causes emotional and physical symptoms that interfere with daily life, including work, school, social life and relationships.

PMS - Premenstrual Syndrome, symptoms that occur between ovulation and menstruation. Symptoms can include, irately, fatigue, bloating, cramping, mood swings, cravings and depression.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) - The occurrence of menopause before the age of 40.

Progesterone - A hormone secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary after ovulation has occurred. Also produced by the placenta during pregnancy.

Prolactin - A hormone produced by the pituitary. The level of prolactin in the blood can reveal hypothalamic-pituitary disorders that may hinder ovulation.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - A condition in which the ovaries are covered with small cysts, which may disturb hormone production and display a range of symptoms including infrequent ovulation.


Rh Factor (and pregnancy) -  is a protein that can be found on red blood cells. If your blood cells have this protein, you are rh positive. If your blood cells do not have this protein, you are rh negative.  During pregnancy, problems can occur if you are rh negative and your baby is rh positive. Treatment is available. 

Rh Immunoglobulin - A substance given to prevent an Rh-negative person’s antibody response to Rh-positive blood cells.



Secondary Infertility - The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy after a previous live birth.


Spontaneous Abortion - The medical term for early pregnancy loss.



Testosterone - The most potent male sex hormone; produced in the testes.



Ultrasound Exam - A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures. During pregnancy, it can be used to examine the baby.


Uterus - A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing baby during pregnancy.



Vaginal Ultrasound - Technique used to view the follicles, baby and other soft tissues by projecting sound waves through a probe inserted into the vagina. A baseline ultrasound shows the ovaries in their normal state. A follicular ultrasound shows egg follicle maturation. A pregnancy ultrasound shows if a pregnancy is in the uterus or in a fallopian tube (an ectopic pregnancy). Ultrasound pictures can be used to measure growth.


Vas Deferens - A pair of thick-walled tubes about 45cm long in the male that lead from the epididymis to the ejaculatory duct in the prostate.