Glossary Of Terms
In order for our visitors and users to get a better understanding of the different methods of conception, as well as the causes of infertility, we have put together a list of some of the key terms you may come across during the process of trying to start a family.
Any sperm, egg or embryo donors who donated before 1 April 2005 are automatically anonymous, meaning that donor-conceived individuals are only provided with limited information which cannot identify the donor personally. You can apply to have this anonymity removed if you wish.
If you donated after the above date, anonymity is not granted, meaning that the donor-conceived child has the right to find out your identity after the age of 16.
Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH)
This hormone is used to measure a woman’s ovarian reserve to calculate their fertility potential and to predict the response to fertility treatment.
Artificial Insemination (AI)
This treatment for infertility involves sperm being inserted directly into a woman’s womb in the hope of fertilisation. This service is available on the NHS, subject to conditions which are listed here. Alternatively, you can be treated in a private clinic. Costs will vary from £500 - £1000 per treatment cycle.
This is the name of a sperm fertility problem which means that the man has no sperm in his ejaculate, and is therefore unable to conceive naturally. This can be caused by a blockage or a deeper problem relating to the production of sperm.
Causes include but are not limited to cancer treatment, genetic infertility and certain types of diabetes. If you are concerned that you may have Azoospermia, visit a fertility clinic as soon as possible.
This is when two (or more) people share the duties of bringing up a child. This is commonly due to divorce, but is an increasingly popular choice for both single people and homosexual couples. Read more about co-parenting and whether it is right for you via our blog post.
CoParents.co.uk is a connection service which aims to connect people that are unable to conceive naturally with those who can help them to create a family. You can read more about us here.
An egg donor agrees to donate their eggs to those who have female fertility issues, such as ovarian failure or menopause. The process of donation is done through IVF (in vitro fertilisation).
This condition effects female fertility. It occurs when tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb.
This is not guaranteed to cause infertility, but it is one of the primary complications of endometriosis. Medicines can be prescribed to counteract the effects.
These clinics assist those who want to become parents but are unable to conceive naturally. They help both men and women by diagnosing fertility problems and providing treatment where possible.
Fertility law encompasses a plethora of areas, including but not limited to, same sex parenting, storage of fertilised and unfertilised donations, as well as all of the legislation that is required to be followed if you are donating or acting as a surrogate.
To summarise the key areas that you might need, we have put together the laws in the UK, which can be read here.
HFEA (Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority)
The HFEA is the UK’s independent regulator which oversees the use of sperm, eggs and embryos for both fertility treatment and research. When looking for a fertility clinic or bank, make sure that it is HFEA licensed for safety and security purposes.
Some women decide to self-inseminate at home. There are many reasons behind this decision, such as the cost of treatment and the greater accessibility when NHS waiting lists are growing every year.
The process of home insemination involves a syringe filled with fertile semen which is inserted into the women’s uterus. Read more about home insemination.
This is a medical term which refers to the reduced functioning of the testes or ovaries. Depending on the severity, this can in turn cause partial or complete infertility.
Infertile / Infertility
If you are infertile, you are unable to conceive. This can be due to a vast number of medical conditions or lifestyle choices (for example, there are links between smokers and infertility).
There are two stages of infertility – primary and secondary. Primary refers to couples who are unable to get pregnant after at least a year of having sex without using birth control. In contrast, secondary relates to couples who have previously got pregnant but are now unable to.
This is the process of inserting sperm into a woman’s reproductive tract. It can come from the spouse or partner, or from a third-party donor.
Intracervical Insemination (ICI)
ICI is the method of insemination where the semen is injected into the cervix. It is a popular option as it is less invasive and painful compared to other insemination processes, and costs less per cycle than IUI (see below)
IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)
IUI involves inserting ‘washed’ sperm (see Washed Sperm) which has been separated from the semen sample for greater potency. It is more expensive than ICI, but also has increased likelihood of fertilisation.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
Over the years, IVF has become an increasing popular solution for having a baby. This process involves collecting the egg and sperm and mixing them in a vial to create an embryo which can then be transferred into the woman’s womb to achieve pregnancy.
Read more about IVF here.
A lone parent opts to raise their child, or children alone. Some women might even choose to have a child alone using a donor. Please note that this is not an option if you are going through a licensed clinic.
Many medicines can cause fertility. These include, but are not limited to:
These drugs are used to treat psychosis, but should be treated with care as they can lead to infertility. If you are trying to have a baby, check with a medical professional before taking any medical drugs.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
Much like neuroleptic medicines, NSAIDs can make it harder to conceive, especially if taking high dosages or taking them long-term. NSAIDs include painkillers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
These are a type of synthetic steroid taken by males, often for building muscles. They can also be prescribed for medical issues, such as low testosterone and chronic illnesses.
Anabolic steroids are unfortunately often linked with male infertility due to the effects it can have on the body. Always speak to your doctor about these concerns, as you may need to go on a specific diet to prevent your fertility being affected.
Natural Insemination (NI)
NI refers to sexual intercourse, and is the most common option used for a heterosexual couples looking to have a baby. However, some heterosexual/homosexual couples might choose NI if they are comfortable with the process.
Proven donors are women who have gone through the egg donation process previously and have helped a family to have a healthy baby. Intended parents might choose to use a proven donor for an increased chance of success.
Analysis of semen involves examining a fresh sample under a microscope to assess the sperm count and motility of the sperm cells.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs are infections that can pass on through sexual intercourse. Many STIs can lead to complete infertility. In women, an STI can develop into pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which will make you infertile, whilst men can also have complications in their reproductive tract. In addition, HIV can reduce semen quality.
Remember to ensure that you are regularly screen checked, and any donor you decide to use is checked over by a doctor for any issues.
Otherwise known as a semen bank, this is where sperm is collected and stored for use by women who need a donation.
A sperm bank has greater control over the types of donations they receive, and they also store any information required about the donor’s medical history and background.
Low sperm count (oligozoospermia) refers to when there are fewer than 20 million sperm per millilitre of semen. You may have a low sperm count if you have a hormone imbalance, genetic problem or a genital infection. Medicines like steroids will also affect count, as well as cancer medications and some antibiotics.
A sperm donor is a healthy male who donates their sperm to either a sperm bank, or directly to someone who is unable to conceive naturally due to male infertility issues or if they are in a lesbian relationship.
You can read more about sperm donation here, or check out the benefits of donating sperm here.
Washed Sperm Cells
Washing sperm cells removes the seminal plasma and any dead cells so that the most potent cells are left behind. This is used in the process of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).