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Glossary

Acanthosis Nigricans: Patches of thickened, velvety, darkened skin that is sometimes associated with insulin resistance

Adenomyosis: A condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus begins to grow in the muscle wall of the uterus.

Adhesions: Scarring that binds together the surfaces of tissues.

Androgens: Steroid hormones produced by the adrenal glands or by the ovaries that promote male characteristics, such as a beard and deepening voice.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): A group of infertility treatments in which an egg is fertilized with a sperm outside the body; the fertilized egg then is transferred to the uterus.

Basal Body Temperature: The temperature of the body at rest.

Cervix: The lower, narrow end of the uterus at the top of the vagina.

Chromosomes: Structures that are located inside each cell in the body and contain the genes that determine a person’s physical makeup.

Contrast Medium: A substance injected into the body that highlights internal structures during an imaging study.

Dysmenorrhea: Discomfort and pain during the menstrual period

Egg: The female reproductive cell produced in and released from the ovaries; also called the ovum.

Embryo: The developing organism from the time it implants in the uterus up to 8 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Endometrial Hyperplasia: A condition in which the lining of the uterus grows too thick; if left untreated for a long time, it may lead to cancer.

Endometriosis: A condition in which tissue similar to that normally lining the uterus is found outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other pelvic structures.

Endometrium: The lining of the uterus.

Erectile Dysfunction: The inability in a man to achieve an erection or to sustain it until ejaculation or until intercourse takes place.

Estrogen: A female hormone produced in the ovaries.

Fallopian Tubes: Tubes through which an egg travels from the ovary to the uterus.

Fertilization: Joining of the egg and sperm.

Fibroids: Benign growths that form in the muscle of the uterus.

Follicles: The sac-like structures in which eggs develop inside the ovary.

Glucose: A sugar that is present in the blood and is the body’s main source of fuel.

Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone Agonists: Medical therapy used to block the effect of certain hormones.

Hirsutism: Excessive hair on the face, abdomen, and chest.

Hormones: Substances produced by the body to control the functions of various organs.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): A hormone produced during pregnancy; its detection is the basis for most pregnancy tests

Hyperthyroidism: A condition in which the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone.

Hypothyroidism: A condition in which the thyroid gland makes too little thyroid hormone.

Hysterosalpingography: A special X-ray procedure in which a small amount of fluid is placed into the uterus and fallopian tubes to detect abnormal changes in their size and shape or to determine whether the tubes are blocked.

Hysteroscopy: A procedure in which a slender device, the hysteroscope, is inserted into the uterus through the cervix to view the inside of the uterus or perform surgery.

Infertility: A condition in which a couple has been unable to get pregnant after 12 months without the use of any form of birth control.

Insulin: A hormone that lowers the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): A procedure in which an egg is removed from a woman’s ovary, fertilized in a dish in a lab with the man’s sperm, and then reintroduced into the woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy

Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which an instrument called a laparoscope is inserted into the pelvic cavity through a small incision. The laparoscope is used to view the pelvic organs. Other instruments can be used with it to perform surgery.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps an egg to mature and be released.

Menstruation: The monthly discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus that occurs in the absence of pregnancy

Miscarriage: Loss of a pregnancy that occurs before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Multiple Pregnancy: A pregnancy in which there are two or more fetuses.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: A condition caused by overstimulation of the ovaries that may cause painful swelling of the ovaries and fluid in the abdomen and lungs.

Ovaries: Two glands, located on either side of the uterus, that contain the eggs released at ovulation and that produce hormones.

Ovulation: The release of an egg from one of the ovaries.

Pelvic Exam: A manual examination of a woman’s reproductive organs.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A condition characterized by two of the following three features: the presence of growths called cysts on the ovaries, irregular menstrual periods, and an increase in the levels of certain hormones.

Premature Ovarian Failure: A condition in which ovulation and the menstrual cycle stop before age 35 years. .

Progesterone: A female hormone that is produced in the ovaries and that prepares the lining of the uterus for pregnancy.

Progestin: A synthetic form of progesterone that is similar to the hormone produced naturally by the body.

Scrotum: The external genital sac in the male that contains the testes.

Semen: The fluid made by male sex glands that contains sperm.

Sexual Intercourse: The act of the penis of the male entering the vagina of the female (also called “having sex” or “making love”).

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Diseases that are spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]).

Sonohysterography: A procedure in which sterile fluid is injected into the uterus through the cervix while ultrasound images are taken of the inside of the uterus.

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH): A hormone made by the pituitary gland that encourages the thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormone.

Ultrasound: A test in which sound waves are used to examine internal structures. During pregnancy, it can be used to examine the fetus.

Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.

Varicocele: Varicose veins in the scrotum.

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