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Fertility glossary

Are infertility terms leaving you feeling confused? We explain infertility medical terms in a way that makes sense.

Blocked fallopian tubes

If a fallopian tube is blocked from either damage, infection, or scar tissue, it can hinder conception.

The fallopian tubes are where eggs and sperm meet for fertilisation and play a crucial role in reproduction. Once fertilised the embryo travels down the fallopian tube and implants in the uterus. However, if you have a blocked fallopian tube, the embryo may not be able to make the journey down the uterus and implant itself in the womb.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection. It's passed on through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and if left untreated, can impact your ability to conceive.

Donor conception

Donor conception is when eggs, sperm, or embryos are donated for someone to use the donated specimens to help with conception. 

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful condition caused by the lining of the uterus growing outside the womb.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also known as impotence, is the failure to achieve an erection and therefore, can impact your ability to conceive. It is a common concern, particularly for men over 40.

Follicles

A follicle is a sac filled with fluid in which an immature egg develops. 

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae or gonococcus. It's transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex. If left untreated, it can impact your ability to conceive.

Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism is a hormonal condition due to the lack of the male sex hormone testosterone. Hypogonadism appears to affect around five in 1,000 men.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment where sperm is inserted directly into a woman's uterus.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

ICSI is a refinement of the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) technique. Instead of the sperm being mixed with the egg in a laboratory, the best single and healthy sperm is extracted from the sample and injected directly into the egg to fertilise it.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

IVF means that an embryo is created outside the body. An egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory.

Ovulation induction

Ovulation induction is the process of using medication to stimulate ovulation in women who have irregular or absent ovulation.  

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common condition affecting how a woman's ovaries work. It can cause irregular periods, high levels of male hormones, and multiple cysts on the ovaries.

Premature Ovarian Insufficiency

Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) is also known as premature or early menopause. It is the term used when your ovaries stop working earlier than usual.

The average age for menopause is 55, but POI occurs in 1% of women under the age of 40 and though rare, can affect women in their 20s and 30s too.

Primary infertility

Primary infertility is when someone who has never conceived a child is struggling to conceive.

Secondary infertility

Secondary infertility occurs when a woman is struggling to conceive after already having had a pregnancy or child.

Thyroid conditions

Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) and overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) are common reasons why some women may find it difficult to conceive and are related to disorders of the thyroid.

Unexplained infertility

Unexplained infertility is a common infertility diagnosis and means that no known cause for difficulty in conceiving can be found.

Uterine abnormalities

A uterine abnormality means that there is an abnormality within the uterus. This can include fibroids or anatomical disorders of the uterus.

Varicocele

A varicocele is a cluster of enlarged veins in the testes, similar to varicose veins in the legs, and can affect your sperm count. If you have varicocele and have an abnormal sperm count, often surgery will be offered to help improve the quality of sperm and optimise your chances of conception.