GLOSSARY OF TERMS

It is helpful to take an active role in your care, whether you are undergoing fertility treatment or fertility preservation. We understand that the services and tests we provide can be overwhelming and many of the terms that you hear during your care are unfamiliar, so we have provided a glossary of terms that you can refer to if you have any questions. If you have further questions at any time please do not hesitate to contact us.

ANDROLOGY TESTING TERMS

We provide andrology testing and andrology services ordered by your physician. Andrology tests are ordered when there may be male infertility issues. The results of these tests help your physician give you a diagnosis, provide a treatment plan for fertility or your general health. We provide your physician with results and where they fall in our testing parameters, but it makes more sense for your physician to go over the results with you because they know your medical history and can provide a treatment plan for you.

Some common andrology laboratory terms you may encounter during your care:

Activity: A rating, on a scale of 0-4, of the forward movement of sperm cells and their ability to progress in a linear direction.

Agglutination: When sperm cells stick together. When more than 4 motile sperm cells stick together this is considered agglutinated and may indicate sperm antibodies.

Andrology: The study of the male reproductive system and fertility and infertility.

Antibody Test: A test that detects the presence of antibodies on the surface of the sperm in males or in the bloodstream of females. These antibodies may interfere with the sperm’s ability to swim or penetrate the egg, or both.

Azoospermia: When there is no sperm in the ejaculate. This can mean there is blockage in the vas deferens. A more thorough investigation by a urologist or fertility specialist may be indicated.

Cryopreservation: Freezing sperm, egg, or embryos in liquid nitrogen.

Cryoprotectant: An additive that enhances the survival rate of the sperm, eggs, or embryos during freezing and thawing.

Density: The number of sperm cells, motile and nonmotile, in a semen sample.

Density Gradient: An additive used during processing to separate motile sperm cells from non-motile, round cells, and cellular debris, and grossly abnormal morphological forms.

Forward Progression: When sperm cells swim in a linear direction.

Fructose: A product of the seminal vesicles in the male reproductive tract, which provides energy for sperm to propel itself forward. The absence of fructose in semen can indicate an absence or obstruction of the vas deferens or the seminal vesicles or both. This information can be helpful to your physician in determining the next steps in a treatment plan.

Liquefaction: All semen samples generally break down into a homogenous form in about 30 minutes. The portion that does not break down in this time is called non-liquefaction. Some non-liquefaction is considered clinically insignificant and the amount in each sample can vary from person to person.

Morphology: Sperm cells are evaluated based on the physical appearance, size and shape, of each sperm cell according to standards set by the World Health Organization.

Motility: Any movement or motion of the sperm cell. Motility is different than forward progression. If a sperm cell is non-motile it can not fertilize the egg through conventional means, but some non-motile sperm are viable and can be used for ICSI.

Oligozoospermia: When there is a reduced number of sperm in the ejaculate, usually less than 10 million/ml.

Round Cells: White blood cells (leukocytes) and immature sperm or spermatozoa that cannot be differentiated during a routine semen analysis. Your physician can use the numbers of round cells to help come up with a diagnosis or treatment plan.

Semen: Ejaculate containing sperm cells and seminal fluid from male reproductive system.

Sperm Wash: When sperm is processed to concentrate and separate motile sperm cells in a semen sample from seminal fluid and nonmotile sperm cells. Washing sperm before an IUI results in a more robust sperm population being deposited into the uterus.

Viability Analysis: A test that determines whether a sperm cell is viable.

Viscosity: An evaluation of the consistency of a semen sample.

Volume: The amount of a semen sample, measured in millimeters.

IVF LABORATORY TERMS

At WRL we work with your physician to provide your fertility care. Your physician will provide you with a treatment plan, a medication protocol, monitor you during medication and treatment, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. The laboratory will receive follicular fluid from your physician, process the fluid to find any eggs, process the sperm, inseminate the eggs with sperm either through IVF or ICSI, monitor the fertilization and growth process, and perform any additional procedures on the embryos, such as assisted hatching, embryo biopsy, and cryopreservation and also store any remaining sperm, eggs, or embryos, or all three.

Some common fertility laboratory terms that you may encounter during your care:

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):  Fertility interventions that involve handling both sperm and eggs outside the body.

Assisted Hatching: A laboratory procedure where an embryologist makes a small hole in the shell of the embryo with a specially designed laser. This is usually performed on day 3 of development of the embryo. Assisted hatching is done when the embryo will be biopsied for PGD or PGS and also some programs believe that it helps the embryo to implant in the uterus when it is transferred.

Artificial or Assisted Insemination: When a physician places a prepared semen sample into the uterus or vagina to attempt to achieve a pregnancy. (Donor insemination-The process of placing laboratory processed sperm or semen from a man into the reproductive tract of a woman who is not his intimate sexual partner, for the process of initiating a pregnancy)

Blastocyst: An embryo that now has 80 or more cells, an inner fluid filled cavity, and a small cluster of cells called the inner cell mass, generally occurs on day 5 or 6 after fertilization, occasionally does not occur until day 7.

Client Depositor: A male who freezes sperm or a female who freezes eggs for his or her own use. A Client Depositor is not considered a donor because they are using the sperm or eggs themselves and intend to be the parents of any resulting children, not donating them to other people to use.

Cryopreservation: Freezing sperm, egg, or embryos in liquid nitrogen.

Cryoprotectant: An additive that enhances the survival rate of the sperm, eggs, or embryos during freezing and thawing.

Directed Donor: A sperm, egg, or embryo donor who is known to the patients who intend to use the Directed Donor’s sperm, egg, or embryo to attempt to achieve a pregnancy.

Donor insemination: The process of placing laboratory processed sperm or semen from a man into the reproductive tract of a woman who is not his intimate sexual partner, for the process of initiating a pregnancy

Embryo: The biological organism resulting from the development of the zygote, until eight completed weeks after fertilization, equivalent to 10 weeks gestational age.

Embryo Banking: Storing cryopreserved embryos for future use.

Embryo Biospy: On day 3 of development, the embryologist uses a specially designed laser to create a small hole in the shell of the embryo so that as the embryo grows and expands to the blastocyst stage, generally on day 5-6, a few trophectoderm cells (that will develop into the placenta) naturally squeeze through the opening and can be removed, collected, frozen and sent off for testing. Embryo biopsy is necessary if you want to have PGD or PGS performed on the embryo.

Embryo Donation: Embryo donation (for reproduction) An ART cycle, which consists of the transfer of an embryo to the uterus of a female recipient, resulting from gametes that did not originate from the female recipient or from her male partner, if present.

Embryo Recipient Cycle: An ART cycle in which a woman’s uterus is prepared to receive one or more cleavage stage embryos/blastocysts, resulting from gametes that did not originate from her or her male partner, if present.

IVF: Sperm are placed into a container with the eggs and a culture medium that supports embryo growth and development. The goal of IVF is for the sperm and egg to meet and begin the fertilization process.

ICSI: When a single sperm is directly injected into the interior of a mature egg using an extremely thin glass needle.

Oocyte:The female gamete, commonly known as an egg.

PGD: After embryos are created using ICSI, they have assisted hatching performed on them on day 3 and then embryo biopsy on day 5. This biopsied part is frozen and sent off to a genetics laboratory where they test to see if the embryo has specific genetic diseases or conditions.

PGS: Preimplantation Genetic Screening. After embryos are created using ICSI, they have assisted hatching performed on them on day 3 and then embryo biopsy on day 5. This biopsied part is frozen and sent off to a laboratory where they determine if the embryo has extra, missing, or misplaced chromosomes.

Vitrification: A quick freeze method now commonly used to prevent formation of ice crystals in delicate materials, such as eggs and embryos.

Zygote: The single cell that occurs after the egg is fertilized by the sperm, before it starts dividing.