Glossary of Medical Terms

Glossary of Medical Terms

Following are the Most Commonly Used Medical Terms:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- A --
Abortion
the premature termination of a pregnancy; may be induced or spontaneous (miscarriage)
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
a fatal disease caused by a virus that destroys the immune system's ability to fight off infection
Acrosome
the packet of enzymes in a sperm's head that allows the sperm to dissolve a hole in the coating around the egg, which allows the sperm to penetrate and fertilize the egg
Acrosome reaction
a chemical change that enables a sperm to penetrate an egg
Adhesion
a union of adjacent organs by scar tissue
Adrenal glands
the endocrine gland on top of each kidney
Aerobic bacteria
the bacterial organisms that require relatively high concentrations of oxygen to survive and reporduce
Agglutination
clumping together, as of sperm, often due to infection, inflammation, or antibodies
Amenorrhea
absence of menstruation
Amniocentesis
the aspiration of amniotic fluid from the uterus, usually performed at three to three and one-half months of pregnancy, to test the fetus for genetic abnormalities
Anaerobic bacteria
bacterial organisms that survive in relatively low oxygen concentrations
Androgens
male sex hormones
Andrologist
a specialist who treats sperm problems
Anovulation
the absence of ovulation
Antibody
a protective agent produced by the body's immune system in response to a foreign substance
Antigen
any substnace that induces the formation of an antibody
Antisperm antibodies
antibodies that can attach to sperm and inhibit movement of sperm or fertilization
Artificial insemination (AI)
placement of a sperm sample inside the female reproductive tract (See also intracervical insemination, intrauterine insemination, intratubal insemination
Aspiration
suctioning of fluid, as from a follicle
Asymptomatic
without any symptoms
Autoantibodies
antibodies formed against one's own tissues
Autoimmunity
an immune reaction against one's own tissues
Azoospermia
absence of sperm

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- B --
Bacteria
microscopic, single-celled organisms that can cause infections of the genital tract
Basal body temperature (BBT)
the temperature taken at its lowest point in the day, usually in the morning before getting out of bed
Biopsy
a fragment of tissue removed for study under the microscope
Blood-testis barrier
the barrier that separates sperm from the bloodstream
Bromocryptine (Parlodel)
a drug that reduces levels of the pituitary hormone prolactin

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- C --
Cannula
a hollow tube used, for example, to inseminate sperm artificially
Capacitation
the process by which sperm become capable of fertilizing an egg
Catheter
a flexible tube used for aspirating or injecting fluids
Cauterize
to destroy tissue with heat, cold, or caustic substances usually to seal off blood vessels or ducts
Cervix
the lower portion of the uterus that opens into the vigina
Cervicitis
inflammation of the cervix
Chlamydia
a type of bacteria that is frequently transmitted sexually between partners or from an infected mother to her newborn child; the most common sexually transmitted bacterial disease
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
taking a biopsy of the placenta, usually at the end of the second month of pregnancy, to test the fetus for genetic abnormalities
Chromosome
threads of DNA in a cell's nucleus that transmit hereditary information
Clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene)
a fertility pill that stimulates ovulation through release of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland
Colposcopy
examination of the cervix through a magnifying telescope to detect abnormal cells
Condom
a latex (rubber) device that fits over the penis to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
Congenital defect
a birth defect
Conization
surgical removal of a cone-shaped portion of the cervix, usually as a treatment for a precancerous condition
Contraindication
a reason not to use a particular drug or treatment
Corpus luteum
("yellow body") formed in the ovary following ovulation, it produces progesterone
Cryocautery
cautery by freezing
Cryptorchidism
failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum
Cul-de-sac
pouch located at the bottom of the abdominal cavity between the uterus and rectum
Culdoscopy
examination of the internal female pelvic organs through an incision in the vigina
Cyst
a sac filled with fluid

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- D --
Danazol
(Danocrine) a synthetic androgen frequently prescribed for endometriosis
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
the combination of amino acids in the cell's nucleus that make up the chromosomes, which transmit hereditary characteristics
Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
a synthetic estrogen (originally prescribed to prevent miscarriage) that caused malformations of the reproductive organs in some who were exposed to the drug during fetal development
Dilatation and curettage (D&C)
an operaton that involves stretching the cervical opening to scrape out the uterus
Donor insemination
artificial insemination with donor sperm
Dysfunction
abnormal function

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- E --
Ectopic pregnancy
pregnancy located outside of the uterus, most commonly in a fallopian tube
Egg(ovum)
the female reproductive cell
Egg donation
donation of an egg by one woman to another who attempts to become pregnant by in vitro fertilization
Ejaculate
the sperm-containing fluid released at orgasm
Ejaculatory ducts
the male ducts that contract with orgasm to cause ejaculation
Electrocautery
cauterization using electircal current
Electroejaculation
controlled electrical stimulation to induce ejaculation in a man with damage to the nerves that control ejaculation
Embryo
the developing baby from implantation to the second month of pregnancy
Embryologist
a specialist in embryo development
Embryo transfer
placing a laboratory-fertilized egg into the uterus
Endocrine gland
an organ that produces hormones
Endometrial biopsy
removal of a fragment of the lining of the uterus for study under the microscope
Endometrioma
a special type of ovarian cyst that is chocolate in color and contains endometrial cells that grow and bleed during menstruation
Endometriosis
growth of endometrial tissue outside of its normal location in the uterus
Endometritis
inflammation of the endometrium
Endometrium
the inner lining of the uterus
Epididymis
the tightly coiled, thin-walled tube that conducts sperm from the testicles to the vas deferens
Epididymitis
inflammation of the epididymis
Estradiol
the principal estrogen produced by the ovary
Estrogens
female sex hormones

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- F --
Fallopian tubes
ducts that pick up the egg from the ovary; where a sperm normally meets the egg to fertilize it
Fecundability
the ability to become pregnant
Fetus
the developing baby from the second month of pregnancy until birth
Fertilization
union of the male gamete (sperm) with the female gamete (egg)
Fibroid (myoma or leiomyoma)
a benign tumor of the uterine muscle and connective tissue.
Fimbria
the finger-like projections at the end of the fallopian tube nearest the ovary that capture the egg and deliver it into the tube
Fimbrioplasty
plastic surgery on the fimbria of a damaged or blocked fallopian tube
Fluoroscope
an imaging device that uses X-rays to view internal body structures on a screen
Follicle
a fluid-filled sac in the ovary that releases an egg at ovulation
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
the pituitary hormone that stimulates follicle growth in women and sperm formation in men
Follicular phase
the pre-ovulatory phase of a woman's cycle during which the follicle grows and high estrogen levels cause the uterine lining to proliferate
Fructose
produced by the seminal vesicles, the sugar that sperm use for energy

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- G --
Gamete
a reproductive cell; the sperm in men, the egg in women
Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer (GIFT)
combining eggs and sperm outside of the body and immediately placing them into the fallopian tubes to achieve fertilization
Gardnerella
a bacteria that may cause a vaginal infection
Gene
the unit of heredity, composed of DNA; the building block of chromosomes
Gestation sac
the fluid-filled sac in which the fetus develops, visible by an ultrasound exam
GIFT
see Gamete Intra Fallopian Transfer
Gland
an organ that produces and secretes essential body fluids or substances, such as hormones
Gonadotropins
the hormones produced by the pituitary gland that control reproductive function follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH)
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)
the hormone produced and released by the hypothalamus that controls the pituitary gland's production and release of gonadotropins
Gonads
organs that produce the sex cells and sex hormones; testicles in men and ovaries in women
Gonorrhea
a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria Neisseria gonococcus that can lead to infertility
Granuloma
a ball of inflamed tissue, commonly formed after vasectomy due to sperm leaking from the vas deferens

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- H --
Habitual abortion
repeat miscarriages
Hamster test
a test of the ability of a man's sperm to penetrate a hamster egg stripped of its outer membrane, the zona pellucida, Also called Hamster Zona-Free Ovum (HZFO) Test or Sperm Penetration Assay (SPA)
Hemizona assay
a laboratory test of the ability of sperm to penetrate into a human egg; first the egg is split in half, then one half is tested against the husband's sperm and the other half against sperm from a fertile man
Hirsutism
excessive hair growth
Hormone
a substance, produced by an endocrine gland, that travels through the bloodstream to a specific organ, where it exerts its effect
Host uterus procedure
a woman carries to term a pregnancy produced by an infertile couple through in vitro fertilization
Hostile mucus
cervical mucus that impedes the natural progress of sperm through the cervical canal
Human chorionic gonadotropin(hCG)
the hormone produced early in pregnancy to keep the corpus luteum producing progesterone; may be injected to stimulate ovulation and progesterone production
Human menopausal gonadotropins(hMG)
see Pergonal
Hydrotubation
injection of fluid, often into the fallopian tubes to determine if they are open
Hyperandrogenism
excessive production of androgens in women, frequently a cause of hirsutism and also associated with polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD)
Hyperprolactinemia
excessive prolactin in the blood
Hyperstimulation
excessive stimulation of the ovaries that can cause them to become enlarged
Hypothalamus
the endocrine gland at the center of the brain that produces gonadotropin releasing hormone and controls pituitary function
Hypothyroidism
underactivity of the thyroid gland
Hysterectomy
surgical removal of the uterus
Hysteroscopy
examination of the inner cavity of the uterus through a fiberoptic telescope inserted through the vagina and cervical canal
Hysterosalpingogram(HSG)
an X-ray examination of the uterus and fallopian tubes

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- I --
Immune system
the body's defense against any injury or invasion by a foreign substance or organism
Immunoglobulins
a class of proteins endowed with antibody activity; antibodies
Immunosuppressive drug
a drug that interferes with the normal immune response
Immunotherapy
a medical treatment for an immune system disorder that involves transfusing donor white blood cells into a woman who has had recurrent miscarriages
Implantation
attachment of the fertilized egg to the uterine lining, usually occurring five to seven days after ovulation
Impotence
inability of a man to achieve an erection or ejaculation
Incompetent cervix
cervix with the inability to remain closed throughout an entire pregnancy; a frequent cause of premature birth
Infertility
inability of a couple to achieve a pregnancy or to carry a pregnancy to term after one year of unprotected intercourse
Inflammation
a response to some type of injury such as infection, characterized by increased blood flow, heat, redness, swelling, and pain
Intracervical insemination (ICI)
artificial insemination of sperm into the cervical canal
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
direct injection of a single sperm into an egg
Intratubal insemination (ITI)
artificial insemination of sperm, which have been washed free of seminal fluid, into the fallopian tubes
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
artificial insemination of sperm, which have been washed free of seminal fluid, into the uterine cavity
In utero
while in the uterus during early development
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
(literally, "in glass") fertilization outside of the body in a laboratory; the term "test tube baby" is inaccurate since fertilization occurs in a small circular dish, not a test tube

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- J --
-- K --
Karyotype
a chromosome analysis
Klinefelter's syndrome
a chromosome abnormality that prevents normal male sexual development and causes irreversible infertility due to the presence of an extra female (X) chromosome

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- L --
Laparoscopy
examination of the pelvic organs through a small telescope called a laparoscope
Laparotomy
a surgical opening of the abdomen
Leiomyoma (fibroid)
a benign tumor of the uterus
Leydig cells
the cells in the testicles that make testosterone
LH surge
the sudden release of luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes the follicle to release a mature egg
Luteal phase
post-ovulatory phase of a woman's cycle; the corpus luteum produces progesterone, which in turn causes the uterine lining to secrete substances to support the implantation and growth of the early embryo
Luteal phase defect (LPH)
inadequate function of the corpus luteum that may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus or may lead to early pregnancy loss
Luteinized Unruptured Follicle (LUF) syndrome
the failure of a follicle to release the egg even though a corpus luteum has formed
Luteinizing hormone (LH)
the pituitary hormone that causes the testicles in men and ovaries in women to manufacture sex hormones

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- M --
Menarche
the time when a woman has her first menstual period
Menopause
the time when a woman stops having menstrual periods
Metrodin(Pure FSH)
an injectable drug consisting of pure follicle stimulating hormone used to stimulate ovulation
Microsurgery
reconstructive surgery performed under magnification using delicate instruments and precise techniques
Miscarriage
spontaneous abortion
Morphology
the study of form, such as assessing the shape of sperm during semen analysis
Motility
mothion, such as the forward swimming motion of health sperm
Mucus
secretion from a gland that can be watery, gel-like, stretchy, sticky or dry; fertile mucus is watery and stretchy
Mycoplasm
an infectious agent that falls structurally between a virus and a bacterium
Myomectomy
surgical removal of a uterine fibroid tumor

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- N --
-- O --
Obstetrician-gynecologist (Ob-gyn)
a physician who specializes in the treatment of female disorders and pregnancy
Oligomenorrhea
infrequent and irregular menstrual cycles
Oligospermia
a low sperm count
Ovarian cyst
a fluid-containig enlargement of the ovary
Ovarian wedge resection
surgical removal of a portion of a polycystic ovary to produce ovulation
Ovary
the female gonad; produces eggs and female hormones
Ovulation
release of an egg from the ovary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- P --
Pap smear
removal of cells from the surface of the cervix to study microscopically
Parlodel
see Bromocryptine
Patent
open; for example, fallopian tubes should be patent after a sterilization reversal operation
Pelvic cavity
the area surrounded by the pelvic bone that contains the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries in women, and the prostate gland and seminal vesicles in men
Pelvic imflammatory disease (PID)
inflammation of any of the female pelvic organs, usually due to infection from a sexually transmitted disease
Penetrak
a test of how fast sperm can travel up through cow mucus
Penis
the male organ of sexual intercourse
Pergonal (hMG)
the luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones recovered from the urine of postmenopausal women that is used to induce multiple ovulation in various fertility treatments
Pituitary gland
the endocrine gland at the base of the brain that produces the gonadotropin luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone, which in turn stimulate the gonads to produce sex cells and hormones
Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD)
a condition found among women who do not ovulate, characterized by multiple ovarian cysts and increased androgen production
Polyp
a growth or tumor on an internal surface, usually benign
Post-coital test (PCT)
microscopic examination of a woman's cervical mucus at the fertile time of the cycle to determine the number and motility of sperm following intercourse
Pre-embryo
a fertilized egg in the early stage of development prior to cell division
Progesterone
the female hormone, produced by the corpus luteum after ovulation, that prepares the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg and helps maintain the pregnancy
Prolactin
the pituitary hormone that in high amounts stimulates milk production
Prostate gland
the male gland encircling the urethra that produces one third of the fluid in the ejaculate
Prostaglandins
a group of hormone-like chemicals that have various effects on reproductive organs; so named because they were first discovered in the prostate gland

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- Q --
-- R --
Reproductive endocrinologist
an ob-gyn who specializes in the treatment of hormonal disorders that affect reproductive function
Reproductive surgeon
an ob-gyn or urologist who specializes in the surgical correction of anatomical disorders that impair reproductive function
Retrograde ejaculation
ejaculation backwards into the bladder instead of forward through the urethra

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- S --
Salpingectomy
surgical removal of the fallopian tubes
Salpingitis
inflamation of one or both fallopian tubes
Salpingitis isthmica nodosa
an abnormal condition of the fallopian tube where it attaches to the uterus, characterized by nodules
Salpingostomy
an incision in a fallopian tube, such as to remove an ectopic pregnancy
Salpingotomy
an operation to open a blocked fallopian
Scrotum
the sac containing the testicles, epididymis, and vas deferens
Semen
the fluid containing sperm and secretions from the testicles, prostate, and seminal vesicles that is expelled during ejaculation
Semen analysis
laboratory examination of semen to check the quality and quantity of sperm
Seminal vesicles
the paired glands at the base of the baldder that produce seminal fluid and fructose
Seminiferous tubules
in the testicles, the network of tubes where sperm are formed
Septum
a wall that divides a cavity in half, such as a uterine septum
Sertoli cells
the cells in the testicles that provide nourshment to the early sperm cells
Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
a disease caused by an infectious agent transmitted during sex
Sperm
male gamete or reproductive cell
Sperm bank
a place where sperm are kept frozen in lizuid nitrogen for later use in artificial insemination
Sperm count
the number of sperm in the ejaculate (when given as the number of sperm per millileter it is more accurately known as the sperm concentration or sperm density)
Sperm penetration assay (SPA)
see Hamster test
Spermicide
an agent that kills sperm
Sterilization
a surgical procedure (such as tubal ligation or vasedtomy) designed to produce infertility
Sterilization reversal
a surgical procedure used to undo a previous sterilization operation and restore fertility
Superovulation
stimulation of multiple ovulation with fertility drugs; also known as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH)
Surrogate mother
a woman who becomes artificially inseminated with a man's sperm and carries the pregnancy for an infertile couple, who adopt the baby after its birth (the man being the biological father of the child)

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- T --
Testicle
the male gonad; produces sperm and male sex hormones
Testicular biopsy
the removal of a fragment of a testicle for examination under the microscope
Testosterone
the primary male sex hormone
Thyroid gland
the endocrine gland in the front of the neck that produces thyroid hormones, which regulate the body's metabolism
Tocolytic
a drug that relaxes smooth muscles and therefore interferes with uterine contractions; frequently used to stop premature labor
Total effective sperm count
an estimate of the number of sperm in an ejaculate capable of fertilization; total sperm count X percent motility X percent forward progressive motility X percent normal morphology
Toxin
a poison produced by a living organism, such as by some bacteria
Tubal ligation
surgical sterilization of a woman by obstructing or "tying" the fallopian tubes
Tuboplasty
plastic or reconstructive surgery on the fallopian tubes to correct abnormalities that cause infertility
Tumor
an abnormal growth of tissue that can be benign or malignant (cancerous)

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- U --
Ultrasound (US)
use of high-frequency sound waves for creating an image of internal body parts
Ureaplasma
a microorganism similar to mycoplasma
Urethra
the tube through which urine from the bladder is expelled
Urologist
a physician who specializes in the surgical treatment of disorders of the uniary tract and male reproductive tract
Uterus
the womb; female reproductive organ that noursishes the fetus until birth

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- V --
Vagina
the female organ of sexual intercourse; the birth canal
Vaginituis
inflammation of the vigina
Varicocele
varicose veins in the scrotum
Vas deferens
the tubes that conduct sperm and testicular fluid to the ejaculatory ducts
Vasectomy
surgical sterilization of a man by interrupting both vas deferens
Vasectomy reversal
surgical repair of a previous vasectomy for a man who wants to regain his fertility
Vasogram
an X-ray study of the vas deferens
Venereal disease
see Sexually transmitted idsesas (STD)
Virus
a microscipic infectious organism that reproduces inside living cells

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

-- W --
-- X --
-- Y --
-- Z --
Zona pellucida
the protective coating surrounding the egg
Zygote
an egg that has been fertilized but not yet divided
Zygote Intra Fallopian transfer (ZIFT)
in vitro fertilization with a transfer of the zygote into the fallopian tube; a combination of in vitro fertilization and gamete intrafallopian transfer

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