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Azoospermia:

This condition is an absence of sperm in semen. We use the termobstructive azoospermia when it is due to an obstruction which prevents the sperm from the testicles bonding with the other fluids that make up the semen and non-obstructive azoospermia when the testicles fail to product a normal quantity of sperm.

Cryopreservation/cryostorage:

This is a process for conserving cells by freezing them in liquid nitrogen at -196º C.

Egg donation:

This is the anonymous, altruistic and generous donation of eggs by a woman of child-bearing age to allow another woman to have a child. These eggs come from the natural reserve that exists in the ovaries, which would very likely never have been used. One could say that it is a way in which to make the most of eggs which a woman would never use. In Spain, it is perfectly legal to donate eggs. The donors are aged between 18 and 35 and are submitted to strict tests to rule out potentially-transmissible diseases. The law also stipulates that the donor and the recipient must share a series of similar physical characteristics, even if they do not know each other.

Endometriosis:

This is a disease that affects women and consists of the growth of endometrial cells (the cells that coat the interior of the womb) outside their natural location.

During the menstrual cycle in a woman with endometriosis, these cells are transformed and respond by behaving as they would normally behave in the womb lining. Endometriosis can make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.

Follicle puncture (or oocyte retrieval):

The gynaecologist performs this procedure in order to obtain the eggs.

It is a simple intervention that is carried out under anaesthesia and consists of suctioning fluid from inside each of the ovarian follicles which is where the eggs are located. The puncture is guided by ultrasound through the vagina using a needle that suctions the content of the follicles (follicular fluid) and it is transferred directly to test tubes which are sent to the embryology laboratory.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH):

The follicle-stimulating hormone is a  gonadotropin-releasing hormone that regulates development, growth, maturity during puberty and the body’s reproductive processes. In women, it stimulates follicular development in the ovaries and these in turn will produce oestradiol. As women age, their ovarian reserves are reduced in terms of quantity and quality and the levels of this hormone increase.

Follicles:

These are structures located inside the ovaries where the eggs develop and reach maturity.

 

ICSI:

ln Vitro fertilisation through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a fertilisation technology which consists of injecting sperm into an egg. The steps taken before and after fertilisation are identical (ovarian induction, follicular puncture and transfer of embryos), and only the fertilisation technology differs.

IMSI:

These initials are associated with In Vitro Fertilisation through Introcytoplasmatic Morphologically-Selected Sperm Injection.

The technology consists of performing the intracytoplasmatic injection of a previously-selected sperm through a microscope which magnifies up to 6000 times.

This magnification, which is 30 times higher than normal, allows the internal morphology of the sperm to be observed.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF):

This technology consists of putting the eggs and sperm selected from the semen in contact with each other. It is called in vitro because the fertilisation itself takes place outside the woman’s body. The fertilised eggs will give rise to embryos which are then transferred to the womb, where they will continue to develop.

In vitro fertilisation often requires the obtaining of several eggs, and so the first thing to be done is to stimulate the ovaries by administering hormones, for the purpose of obtaining more than one egg at one time, if possible.

Infertility:

This is the inability to become pregnant naturally, and its origin may lie in the woman, the man or in both. The approximate time for becoming pregnant may vary between six months and one year, depending on age, among other factors. It is advisable to visit an assisted reproduction specialist in the event of not becoming pregnant within one year at the age of less than 35 (or six months if aged over 35).

Luteinising hormone (LH):

This hormone plays a part in follicle development, the ovulation process and the secretion of progesterone. During the first phase of the menstrual cycle it starts to produce a small quantity of LH, but the levels of this hormone undergo a sharp increase halfway through this cycle, which activates the ovulation process.

Oocyte or egg:

From birth, a healthy woman has a reserve of some 400,000 eggs in her ovaries. During the entire fertile period of her lifetime, only one out of every thousand (no more than 400) will mature completely and thus have the possibility of being fertilised.

Ovulation induction:

Ovulation induction is one of the procedures used in assisted reproductive technologies in order to obtain one or more eggs.

To do this, controlled doses of the same hormones produced naturally by women are administered, known as gonadotropins (follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH and luteinising hormone or LH).

During treatment with these hormones, it is necessary to perform regular controls through ultrasound monitoring and sometimes analytical controls to verify the correct development of the ovarian follicles.

This ultrasound monitoring consists of measuring the number and size of the follicles, which the structures in which the eggs are housed and developed.

Pellucid zone:

This is the external coating of the egg which the sperm must pass through to fertilise it. When the sperm cannot pass through it naturally, ICSI fertilisation technology is necessary.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD):

This is a laboratory technique for detecting embryos that carry a genetic anomaly.

This is possible thanks to a previous study of the DNA (general material) of the embryo and the selection of those which comply with certain characteristics or the elimination of those with genetic alterations.

It is recommended when there is a family history of genetic disease or transmissible chromosomes. In Vitro Fertilisation technologies are required to perform this procedure, in order to obtain the genetic material for study.

Transvaginal Ultrasound:

Ultrasound is a diagnostic technique that allows the internal organs of the body to be seen through ultrasound. In the case of a transvaginal ultrasound, extremely complete images and information are obtained about the shape and size of the womb, the womb lining and/or ovaries and their changes during the woman’s menstrual cycle. This technology requires no special preparation on the part of the patient and consists of inserting a probe specially designed to be inserted into the vagina.

Vitrification:

This is a cryopreservation technique that has better survival rates during thawing. It is indicated for freezing embryos and for freezing eggs. During the egg freezing process, the water inside the egg crystallises and can damage the cell wall. The vitrification technique prevents this phenomenon from occurring.

Zygote:

This is the name given to the cell resulting from the joining of the sperm and the egg. In other words, the zygote is the fertilised egg.

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