Infertility: Glossary

Here are definitions of medical terms related to infertility.

Antiandrogens: Medications that reduce the effects of male hormones.

Calcium: A metal that occurs naturally in humans and helps build bones.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid): An acid in the nucleus of cells formed in two twisted chains that carry cells’ genetic information.

Ejaculatory Duct: A duct that opens into the urethra and is involved in sperm production.

Epididymis: A long tube located behind the testes in the scrotum that connects with the vas deferens.

Estrogen: A natural hormone excreted by the ovaries, which gives women some of their sexual characteristics, helps build bones, and plays a role in reproduction.

Fallopian Tubes: A pair of tubes that extend from each of a woman’s ovaries to the uterus.

Hypothalmus: A region of the brain that regulates body temperature, production of hormones and other bodily functions that are not under a human being’s voluntary control.

Infertility: Inability to conceive a child after at least twelve continuous months of attempting pregnancy and avoiding all birth control methods.

Laparascope: A slender tube that is inserted through an incision in the stomach to examine or perform minor surgery on the abdominal or pelvic area in a woman.

Oral Contraceptives: Birth control pills, or drugs that prevent pregnancy and contain estrogen and progesterone.

Ovaries: A pair of organs that produce eggs and certain female hormones.

Pancreas: A gland above the small intestine that secretes insulin, which helps provide glucose for body cells; and glucagon, a hormone that helps break down starches.

Primary infertility: Refers to the case in which an individual has never had a child and experiences difficulty in creating a pregnancy.

Progesterone: A hormone that helps swell the lining of the uterus and prepare it for pregnancy; maintains pregnancy and promotes development of the mammary (milk-producing) glands in the breast.

Prostate Gland: A chestnut-shaped gland located at the bottom of the bladder that controls the release of urine and semen.

Secondary infertility: Refers to the case in which a person has conceived one or more children in the past but now is unable to conceive a child.

Seminal Vesicles: A pair of glands located on each side of the bladder that help move sperm to a man’s urethra.

Testosterone: A male hormone produced by the testes or sometimes by the ovaries. It gives men some of their sexual characteristics and regulates sex drive in men and women.

Tuberculosis: An infection and lung disease caused by bacteria, with symptoms that include coughing, fever, weight loss, and chest pain.

Urethra: The canal in men and women through which urine is discharged. In men, it also releases semen.

Vas Deferens: The main duct of the testicle that carries semen from the epidymis to other organs in the male reproductive system.

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