Dictionary of Pregnancy Terms

Alpha-Fetoprotein Test
Alpha-Fetoprotein Test (AFT or AFP)
A test to measure the amount of a substance produced by a fetus’ liver that passes into the mother’s bloodstream which can be detected in there in small amounts and in the amniotic fluid. A high level indicates possible spina bifida (exposed spinal column) or anencephaly (absence of a brain) in fetus.
A diagnostic medical procedure involving a needle inserted through the abdominal wall to sample the amniotic fluid from the uterus of a pregnant woman to obtain important information about possible birth defects in early pregnancy and fetal maturity in the latter part of pregnancy.
Amniotomy (Breaking the bag of waters)
The artificial, intentional rupturing of membranes surrounding the baby to facilitate labor.
Apgar Score
A measurement of a baby’s response to birth and life outside of the womb that is taken at both one and five minutes after birth. Named after Virginia Apgar, M.D. who devised the measurement rating.
Biophysical Profile (BPP)
An assessment of fetal heart rate, breathing, body movement, and muscle tone plus the amount of amniotic fluid around the fetus. This is determined by an ultrasound and a nonstress test as an indicator of fetal well being.
Breech Presentation
When a baby is turned in such a way that the the buttocks present first rather than the head. Currently, Cesarean Section is commonly used to deliver the baby to avoid complications for both baby and mother.
Caesarean Delivery (Cesarean)
When a baby is surgically delivered through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen.
The lower section of the uterus which protrudes into the vagina and serves as a reservoir for sperm.
Chemical Pregnancy
A positive pregnancy test, without ultrasound confirmation or documentation of a pregnancy.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS)
A procedure that analyzes samples of placenta tissue to assess fetal well-being. Considered to be an alternative to amniocentesis. Done at ten to twelve weeks of pregnancy, the results usually take three weeks.
Clinical Pregnancy
A pregnancy in which the beating fetal heart has been identified by ultrasound.
When a sperm impregnates a woman’s egg.
Contraction Stress Test (Oxytocin Challenge Test or OCT)
Test used to evaluate placental function and fetal well being during a contraction. Contractions are induced and the fetal heart rate’s reaction is measured.
Diuretics (Water Pills)
Once regularly prescribed to women to treat edema (swelling) in the legs. Now known to be unhealthy for fetus.
see Estradiol
Ectopic Pregnancy
When a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus (usually in the fallopian tube). Pregnancy must be removed to save tube and/or prevent hemorrhaging.
This term is used to describe the early stages of fetal growth, from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy.
Embryo Adoption
When a embryo is created by the egg of one woman and subsequently implanted in a second woman.
A person specially trained to work with embryos and gametes.
The study of hormones, their function, the organs that produce them and how they are produced.
Endometrial Biopsy
When a sample of uterine tissue is taken and examined to show evidence of ovulation or to diagnose hormonal levels to judge reproductive health.
The presence of endometrial tissue (tissue that normally lines the uterus) in abnormal locations such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and abdominal cavity.
Mucus membrane lining of a woman’s uterus that is shed during menstruation.
Epidural Anesthesia
Used as a pain relief method, it requires a catheter placed between bones in the spine that delivers medications.
Hormone released by developing follicles in the ovary that can be measured during ART cycles.
Female hormones that are responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics.
Fallopian Tube
A thin tube the carries an egg from the overy and take it to the uterus after fertilization takes place.
The penetration of a sperm into an egg by the sperm.
Fertile Mucus
Cervical fluid that significantly thickens around the time a woman ovulates.
Benign muscle tumor of the wall of the uterus.
The male or female reproductive cells, the sperm or the egg.
Primarily consists of DNA and proteins and define hereditary characteristics.
Genetic Counseling
When a trained professional is used to assist in gathering and interpreting pertinent information about the chances of bearing a child with a genetic disorder.
Time period of fetal development in the uterus from conception to birth.
Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes caused by pregnancy, sets in during latter stages of pregnancy.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
Hormone produced during pregnancy; its detection is the basis for most pregnancy tests.
HSG (Hysterosalpingogram)
X-ray of the inside of the uterus and fallobian tubes using a telscrop placed inside the uterus.
The over stimulation of a woman’s ovaries that can cause them to become enlarged.
The surgical removal of the uterus.
A medical fiber optic examination of the inner cavity of the uterus through the vagina and cervical canal.
X-ray examination of the uterus and fallopian tubes involves inserting a dye into the uterus to the fallopian tubes to examine their shape and health.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
When a fertilized egg in implants itself in the endometrium of the uterus.
A chromosome analysis.
A synthetic form of gonadotropin (luteinizing hormone) releasing hormone used to suppress ovarian function.
Maternal Serum Screening
A group of blood tests that check for substances linked with certain birth defects.
Fluid containing nutritive growth substances enabling cells to survive in an artificial environment.
When a woman stops having menstrual periods usually towards the second half of life.
A period. Cyclic (monthly) flow of blood (menstruation) signifying ovulation, but failure to achieve pregnancy. Onset of bleeding is considered cycle day 1.
A spontaneous expulsion of a fetus from the uterus.
The embryotic stage wherein numberous cells are packed togather inside the zona but before the blastocyst cavity has formed.
Secretion from a gland that can be watery, gel-like, stretchy, sticky or dry, generally refers to the cervical kind for determining fertility.
Multiple Pregnancy
A pregnancy in which there are two or more fetuses.
Oocyte - Ovum
This reproductive cell is the egg produced in the ovaries each month. The plural of ovum is ova.
Female sexual glands that produce the hormones Estrogen and Progesterone where the ova are developed.
The discharge of a ripened egg from the ovary, usually in the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Ovulation Predictor Kit
Tests that detect the LH level in the urine to help detect the surge, to indicate ovulation.
Ovum (ova) (egg)
Mature oocytes.
Pap Test
A screening test to determine the presence of cervical cancer. It is done by gently touching a cotton swab on the cervix and then wiping the swab on a slide which is treated and examined under a microscope.
Preeclampsia (Toxemia)
Disease that is dangerous for pregnant woman and their babies. Symptoms include rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, protein in urine, and/or blurred vision.
Synthetic hormone that immitates Progesterone.
A female hormone secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary after ovulation has occurred. It helps an impregnated egg “stick” to the walls of the uterus. Also produced by the placenta during pregnancy.
The hormone released from the pituitary gland that causes breasts to secrete milk.
A specialized stage of the oocyte or sperm nucleus before their union. After this union the conceptus is referred to as a zygote.
Pronuclear Stage Tubal Transfer (PROST) (ZIFT)
Oocytes are aspirated, allowed to fertilize in vitro and the conceptus transferred before cell division (cleavage).
Reproductive Endocrinologist (R.E.)
An obstetrician gynecologist who specializes in the treatment of hormonal disorders that affect reproductive function.
A blood test done to see if a woman’s blood contains a Rh factor and whether it is positive or negative. Results of this test may indicate what steps are needed to assure a healthy pregnancy.
An inflammation of the Fallopian Tubes.
Selective Reduction
The reduction of the amount of embryos or fetuses in the womb to allow the others a better chance of survival.
Also referred to as seminal fluid, this is comprised of the sperm and seminal secretions ejaculated during orgasm.
Semen Analysis
Analysis of semen for sperm count, motility, and morphology.
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART)
Voluntary regulatory and consultative organization of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine responsible for assisted reproduction.
Sperm Buffer
When fresh semen is collected and placed in a cold-airtight container for shipping and immediate insemination use. The specimen can usually remain viable for up to thirty-six hours.
Sperm Count (sperm density)
The measurement of the number of sperm in a sample.
Sperm Morphology
The analysis of the form and structure of sperm.
Sperm Penetration Assay (SPA)
A test where sperm are incubated with non-viable hamster eggs to determine the capacity of the sperm to fertilize.
Sperm Washing
Procedure that separates sperm from seminal fluid.
Testicular/Epididymal Sperm Aspiration(TESA)
The removal of sperm directly from the testis or the epididymis using a needle for aspiration. Usually associated with sperm injection into the oocyte (ICSI).
Flu-like illness caused by protozoa. Can be harmful or fatal to fetus. Caused by contaminated raw meat and in a small percentage of cases, can be contracted through the handling of an infected cat’s feces.
Trans-tubal Embryo Transfer (TET)
Replacement of a cleaving conceptus into the uterine tube rather than into the uterus.
Tubal Pregnancy
see Ectopic Pregnancy
Tubal Sterilization
A method of female sterilization in which the fallopian tubes are closed by tying, banding, clipping, or sealing with electric current.
Ultrasound (US)
Use of painless high-frequency sound waves for creating an image of internal body parts, most frequently used to examine a fetus inside a woman’s body.
Uterine Tube (Fallopian)
The anatomic and physiologic connection between the uterus and the ovary which serves to transport the egg and sperm, as the site of fertilization and support and transport the conceptus en route to the uterus.
The female reproductive organ that carries ABD grows a fetus until birth.
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)
The delivery of a child vaginally in a pregnancy where the prior pregnancy ended in a Caesarean birth.
Zona pellucida
The protective coating surrounding an egg.
Zona Drilling
The creation of a hole in the shell that surrounds an egg.
Fertilized egg that has not yet begin to split.
Zygote Intra Fallopian transfer (ZIFT)
IVF with a transfer of a zygote into the fallopian tube.

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