Term Description
Abdomen/abdominal The area of the tummy
Acrosome The membrane covering the head of the sperm containing the enzymes that are realeased to enable the sperm to enter the egg
Amniocentesis Procedure where cells are taken from the fluid around the foetus to detect abnormalities, usually between the 15th and 17th weeks of pregnancy
Amniotic membrane Inner membrane around the amniotic fluid containing a foetus
Anencephaly Severe neural tube defect in which there is no brain development
Anovulation Lack of ovulation
Azoospermia Absence of sperm in the semen
Basal body
Ovulation leads to increased blood progesterone levels which are associated with a small rise in body temperature.
Blastocyst An embryo 5-6 days after fertilisation, consisting of an outer layer of cells that will become the placenta, and an inner mass of cells that will become the foetus

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Measure of body mass determined by dividing a person's weight (in kilograms) by height (in metres) squared. Normal values are between 20 and 25
Capacitation The final phase of development in the sperm in which it acquires the ability to fertilise an egg
Catheter A fine plastic tube used to put sperm or embryos into the uterus through the cervix
Cervix The lower narrow end of the uterus that connects the uterine cavity to the vagina
Chlamydia Infection that may damage the reproductive system
Chorionic membrane The outer layer of the membranes that surround the foetal sac
Chorionic Villus
Sampling (CVS)
A procedure where cells are taken from the placenta around 11 weeks of pregnancy to test for abnormalities in the foetus
Chromosomes Structures in the nucleus of the cell that carry genetic information
Clinical Pregnancy A pregnancy that can be detected by ultrasound scanning of the uterus
Chromosome Structures in the cell nucleus that contain our hereditary material in the form of DNA
Cilia Hair-like projections that line some tubes, e.g., the Fallopian tubes
Conjoined twins Twins that are joined by some parts of their bodies
Corpus luteum A yellow structure in the ovary formed after the rupture of the egg from that site. It produces progesterone
Cryptorchidism Undescended testes
Day 1 First day of the period. Start of the menstrual cycle
Dilatation and
curettage (D&C)
Operation to scrape out the lining of the uterus
Dyspareunia Pain during sexual intercourse
Ectopic pregnancy Pregnancy outside the uterus, commonly in the Fallopian tube
Ejaculate The discharge of semen from the penis during male orgasm
Endometriosis The presence of endometrial cells at sites outside the lining of the uterus
Endometrium Lining of the uterus
Epididymis A coiled tube 3-5 m in length attached to the back of the testis. It stores sperm and gives rise to their motility
Fallopian tube Tube that runs from the uterus out towards the ovary. It is responsible for the passage of sperm, eggs and embryos
Fecundity The probability of a live birth from one cycle of ovulation
Fibroid Benign muscular growth in the uterus
Fimbria Delicate, finger-like fringes that collect the egg
Follicle A fluid-filled sac in the ovary in which the egg matures
Follicular phase The phase of the menstrual cycle in which the dominant follicle grows to reach maturity. The follicular phase is completed at the time of egg release (ovulation)
Gestation Length of pregnancy
Granulosa cells Cells that surround each egg and line each follicle and are responsible for feeding the egg with nutrients and producing oestrogen
Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) Hormone that is produced by the developing placenta
Insemination Placing sperm into the cervix or uterus, or in IVF placing sperm with the eggs in culture conditions the laboratory
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) Technique used for severe male factor problems in which the sperm are injected into the eggs using a high-powered microscope
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) The reproductive technique in which fertilisation occurs `in vitro', which means `in glass', i.e., in the laboratory in a dish or a tube. If the egg fertilises and begins cell division the resulting embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus where it will hopefully implant and give rise to a pregnancy
Karyotpye A test looking at the number and appearance of chromosomes from cells
Laparoscopy Technique in which a telescope visualises the structures within the abdomen. Commonly used to check tubal patency and the presence of any pelvic pathology
LMP Last menstrual period
Luteal phase The phase of the menstrual cycle from ovulation to the start of the next period
Luteinising hormone (LH) One of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. A rapid rise of LH initiates the onset of ovulation
Menarche Onset of menstruation
Menstruation period The lining of the uterus is shed in response to falling oestrogen and progesterone levels at the end of the luteal phase
Oestrogen A hormone produced by the ovaries
Ovarian stimulation Stimulating the ovary to produce more than one mature egg in a menstrual cycle by giving fertility drugs
Ovary The female gonad that contains the eggs
Ovulation Release of the egg from the ovary. This usually occurs about 14 days before the next menstrual period
Ovum The egg
Pelvic inflammatory disease Infection of the tubes and uterus that can lead to infertility by adhesion formation
Peri menopause The five to 10 years prior to cessation of periods (menopause)
Phyto oestrogens Oestrogens in plants
Pituitary gland A small gland at the base of the brain. It produces FSH, LH and other hormones
Placenta The organ that transfers nutrients and oxygen from the mother to the baby
Progesterone Hormone produced by the corpus luteum. It prepares the uterus for implantation of a developing embryo if fertilisation has occurred
Pronuclei Once an egg has been fertilised, two pronuclei may be seen, one from the egg and one from the sperm
Puberty The time in adolescence in which sexual organs mature and secondary sexual characteristics appear
Scrotum The pouch that contains the testicles
Semen Fluid that constitutes the ejaculate
Semen analysis The microscopic examination of semen to determine the number of sperm (sperm count) their shapes (morphology) and their ability to move (motility)
Seminal fluid The liquid part of the semen in which sperm swim around
Siamese twins Conjoined twins
Spermatogenesis Sperm production
Spermatogonia The cells within the testis that differentiate into sperm
Sperm The male reproductive cell that unites with the egg (ovum) to produce an embryo
Spina bifida A developmental abnormality in which the bones of the spinal column do not fuse
Testes The male gonads responsible for production of sperm and testosterone
Ultrasound High frequency sound waves that may be used to identify bodily structures
Uterus The organ in the female in which the foetus develops. Often called the womb
Vagina The canal in the female that leads to the cervix, which leads to the uterus
Zona pellucida Outer covering or ”shell' of the egg