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Fertility Jargon: Breaking Down Confusing Medical Terms

The concept of In Vitro Fertilization jargon can be difficult for non-medical professionals. You hear words like artificial insemination, assisted hatching, embryo freezing, and cryopreservation thrown around the community, and to you, it makes no sense.

If you’re like most people, then you probably don’t understand what any of that means. Odds are, you will need a doctor to break down what you just heard. But to make things a little simpler for your fertility journey here’s a guide!

In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from the ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab.

Definition obtained from the Mayo Clinic

Oocyte Cryopreservation

Human oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a procedure to preserve a woman’s eggs (oocytes). This technique has been used to enable women to postpone pregnancy to a later date – whether for medical reasons such as cancer treatment or social purposes such as employment or studies.

Sperm Cryopreservation

The sperm cells are then frozen and stored. Sperm cryopreservation is often used for men who want to have children after having a treatment that may cause infertility, such as specific cancer treatments. Sperm cryopreservation is a type of fertility preservation, also called sperm banking.

Embryo Cryopreservation

Embryo cryopreservation is the process of freezing and storing embryos and is a component of most in vitro fertilization programs. The process is chosen for reasons as varied as providing an additional chance for pregnancy or saving embryos in the face of specific medical treatments.

baby's feet

Testicular Sperm Extraction/Aspiration

Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) is the process of removing a small portion of tissue from the testicle under local anesthesia and extracting the few viable sperm cells present in that tissue for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is an in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm cell is injected directly into the cytoplasm of an egg. This technique is used in order to prepare the gametes for the obtention of embryos that may be transferred to a maternal uterus.

Assisted Hatching

During assisted hatching, the outer shell of the embryo is artificially weakened by making a small hole in the zona pellucida. This can be done in several different ways. One method involves the application of an acid solution, called Tyrode’s solution, to help melt a small hole in the shell.

While this guide may have just scratched the surface, at least it gives you an idea of what to expect when your fertility specialist says something like sperm freezing. Don’t be afraid to consult with a specialist today!

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