The following definitions/explanations are excerpted from Wikipedia.
Androgens – Broad term for any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone, that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of male characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors. Androgens are the precursor of all estrogens. The primary and most well-known androgen is testosterone.
Andrology – The medical specialty that deals with male health, particularly relating to the problems of the male reproductive system and urological problems that are unique to men. It is also known as “The science of Men.” It is the counterpart to gynecology.
Antimullerian Hormone (AMH) – AMH is expressed by granulosa cells of the ovary during the reproductive years, and limits the formation of primary follicles by inhibiting excessive follicular recruitment by FSH. Some authorities suggest it is a measure of certain aspects of ovarian function, useful in assessing conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome and premature ovarian failure. It is useful to predict a poor ovarian response in in vitro fertilization (IVF), but it does not appear to add any predictive information about success rates of an already established pregnancy after IVF.
Antioxidant – A molecule (commonly found in colourful plants and dietary supplements) that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules (within cells and tissues of the body). Oxidation produces free radicals. These radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by removing free radicals and inhibiting other oxidation reactions.
Antral Follicle Count (AFC) – The number of antral follicles (ovarian follicle during a certain latter stage of folliculogenesis) in both ovaries, determined by transvaginal ultrasonography.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) – Methods used to achieve pregnancy by artificial or partially artificial means. It is reproductive technology used primarily for infertility treatments, and is also known as fertility treatment.
ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) – Coenzyme used as an energy carrier in the cells of all known organisms; the process in which energy is moved throughout the cell.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) – The lowest body temperature attained, generally measured immediately after awakening and before any physical activity has been undertaken. Monitoring of BBTs is one way of estimating the day of ovulation. The tendency of a woman to have lower temperatures before ovulation and higher temperatures afterwards, is known as a biphasic pattern. Charting of this pattern may be used as a component of fertility awareness.
Biomarker – A measurable indicator of the severity or presence of some disease state. More generally a biomarker is anything that can be used as an indicator of a particular disease state or some other physiological state of an organism.
Blastocyst – A structure formed in the early development of mammals which subsequently forms the embryo. The outer layer of the blastocyst consists of cells collectively called the trophoblast. The trophoblast gives rise to the placenta. In humans, blastocyst formation begins about 5 days after fertilization. The blastocyst has a diameter of about 0.1-0.2 mm and comprises 200-300 cells following rapid cleavage (cell division). After about 1 day, the blastocyst implants itself into the endometrium of the uterine wall.
Body Mass Index (BMI) – A measure of relative weight based on an individual’s mass and height.
Candida – Candidiasis, thrush, or yeast infection is a fungal infection (mycosis) which encompasses infections that range from superficial (such as oral thrush and vaginitis) to systemic and more severe conditions. Superficial infections of the skin and mucosal membranes cause local inflammation and discomfort.
Casein – Proteins which are commonly found in mammalian milk, making up 80% of the proteins in cow milk and between 20% and 45% of the proteins in human milk.
Cortisol – A steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid, which is produced by the adrenal glands. It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucose. Its functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrate. It also decreases bone formation.
Cyst – A cluster of cells that have grouped together to form a sac (not unlike the manner in which water molecules group together, forming a bubble); however, the distinguishing aspect of a cyst is the cells forming the “shell” of such a sac are distinctly abnormal (in both appearance and behaviour) when compared to all surrounding cells for that given location.
D&C (dilation or dilatation and curettage) – Dilation (widening/opening) of the cervix and surgical removal of part of the lining of the uterus and/or contents of the uterus by scraping and scooping (curettage). It is a therapeutic gynecological procedure as well as the most often used method of first trimester pregnancy loss and abortion.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) – An Omega-3 fatty acid (most often obtained from fish) that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and retina. It can be synthesized from alpha-linolenic acid or obtained directly from maternal milk or fish oil. Important for the developing fetus and healthy breast milk.
DHEA (dehydoepiandosterone) – Is the most abundant circulating steroid hormone in humans, in whom it is produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads and the brain, where it functions predominantly as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the androgen and estrogen sex steroids.
Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) – Also known as poor ovarian reserve, impaired ovarian reserve, premature ovarian aging or declining ovarian reserve, is a condition of low fertility characterized by 1): low numbers of remaining oocytes in the ovaries or 2): possibly impaired preantral oocyte development or recruitment.
Dioxin – Dioxin and dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) are by-products of various industrial processes and are commonly regarded as highly toxic compounds that are environmental pollutants and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). They include: Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), or simply dioxins. Polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have “dioxin-like” properties.
Endocrinology – A branch of biology and medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases and its specific secretions called hormones, as well as the integration of developmental events proliferation, growth, and differentiation (including histogenesis and organogenesis), and also the psychological or behavioral activities of metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sleep, digestion, respiration, excretion, mood, stress, lactation, movement, reproduction and sensory perception as caused by hormones. Endocrinology is concerned with study of the biosynthesis, storage, chemistry, biochemical and physiological function of hormones and with the cells of the endocrine glands and tissues that secrete them. Various specializations exist, including behavioral endocrinology and comparative endocrinology. The endocrine system consists of several glands, all in different parts of the body, that secrete hormones directly into the blood rather than into a duct system. Hormones have many different functions and modes of action; one hormone may have several effects on different target organs, and, conversely, one target organ may be affected by more than one hormone.
Endometriosis – A hormonal and immune system disease in which cells similar to that which line the uterus (endometrium) grow outside the uterine cavity, most commonly on the membrane which lines the abdominal cavity, the peritoneum. The uterine cavity is lined with endometrial cells, which are under the influence of female hormones. Endometrial cells in areas outside the uterus are also influenced by hormonal changes and respond in a way that is similar to the cells found inside the uterus. Common symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility. The pain often is worse with the menstrual cycle and is the most common cause of secondary dysmenorrhea.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) – An Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid most often obtained from fish. It acts as a precursor for prostaglandin-3 (which inhibits platelet aggregation) and has the ability to reduce inflammation.
Estrogen(s) – A group of compounds named for their importance in both menstrual and estrous reproductive cycles. They are the primary female sex hormones.
Femoral Massage – Compression of the large femoral artery palpable in the groin between the lower abdomen and the upper thigh. It is intended to increase supply of blood flow to the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Fibroid (uterine) – A leiomyoma (benign tumor from smooth muscle tissue) that originates from the smooth muscle layer (myometrium) of the uterus.
Flora (gut) – More appropriately, gut microbiota, consists of a complex of microorganism species that live in the digestive tracts of animals. Gut microorganisms benefit the host by gleaning the energy from the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates, the subsequent absorption of short-chain fatty acids (butyrates, propionates, acetates), and play a role in synthesizing Vitamin B and Vitamin K, and metabolising bile acids, sterols and xenobiotics.
Folliculogenesis – The maturation life cycle of an ovarian follicle (shell on ovary which contains an immature egg).
Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH) – A hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. FSH regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation and reproductive processes of the body.
Gluten – A protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products and other dermatological preparations.
Gonadotropins – Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), placental chorionic gonadotropins hCG and eCG and chorionic gonadotropin (CG). These protein hormones are central to the complex endocrine system that regulates normal growth, sexual development and reproductive function. The hormones LH and FSH are secreted by the anterior pituitary gland, while hCG and eCG are secreted by the placenta.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – An autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland is attacked by a variety of cell- and antibody-mediated immune processes. It was the first disease to be recognized as an autoimmune disease.
Holistic – The idea that natural systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not as collections of parts. This often includes the view that systems function as wholes and that their functioning cannot be fully understood solely in terms of their component parts.
Homocysteine – A non-protein a-amino acid. A high level of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia) makes a person more prone to endothelial cell injury, which leads to inflammation in the blood vessels, cardiovascular disease, miscarriage and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Homocysteine can be converted into methionine or converted into cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins.
Hypothyroidism – Often called underactive thyroid or low thyroid, is a common endocrine disorder in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be confirmed with blood tests measuring thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine levels. The opposite is Hyperthyroidism.
Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – A radiologic imaging procedure to investigate the shape of the uterine cavity and the shape and patency of the fallopian tubes. It entails the injection of a radio-opaque material into the cervical canal and usually fluoroscopy with image intensification. A normal result shows the filling of the uterine cavity and the bilateral filling of the fallopian tube with the injection material.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – A process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro (“in glass”). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium in a laboratory. The fertilised egg (zygote) is cultured for 2–6 days in a growth medium and is then implanted in the same or another woman’s uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
Inflammation – A protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process. Inflammation is not a synonym for infection, even though the two are often correlated (the former often being a result of the latter). The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function.
Inositol – Helps balance blood sugar levels via insulin signal transduction. Inositol (vitamin B8) is a carbohydrate, though not a classical sugar. It has a taste which has been assayed at half the sweetness of table sugar (sucrose).
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – An in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.
IUD (Intrauterine device) – A small contraceptive device, often ‘T’-shaped, often containing either copper or levonorgestrel, which is inserted into the uterus. They are one form of long-acting reversible contraceptions which are the most effective types of reversible birth control.
Karyotype – Describes the number of chromosomes, and what they look like under a light microscope. Attention is paid to their length, the position of the centromeres, banding pattern, any differences between the sex chromosomes and any other physical characteristics. The preparation and study of karyotypes is part of cytogenetics.
Laparoscopy – An operation performed in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm) with the aid of a camera. It can either be used to inspect and diagnose a condition or to perform surgery.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – A hormone produced by gonadotroph cells in the anterior pituitary gland. In females, an acute rise of LH (“LH surge”) triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum. In males, it stimulates Leydig cell production of testosterone. It acts synergistically with FSH.
Menarche – The first menstrual cycle, or first menstrual bleeding, in female humans. From both social and medical perspectives, it is often considered the central event of female puberty, as it signals the possibility of fertility.
Mitochondria – A membrane bound organelle found in most eukaryotic cells (the cells that make up plants, animals, fungi and many other forms of life) sometimes described as “cellular power plants” because they generate most of the cell’s supply of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), used as a source of chemical energy.
Myofascial Release – A soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain. This alternative medicine therapy aims to relax contracted muscles, improve blood and lymphatic circulation and stimulate the stretch reflex in muscles.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) – An approach to soft tissue manual therapy in which quasi-static pressure is applied to soft tissue to stimulate skeletal striated muscle. Often these areas of muscle are myofascial trigger points. NMT practitioners claim to balance the central nervous system (brain, spinal column and nerves) with the structure and form of the musculoskeletal system. Through applied knowledge of trigger points, neuromuscular therapy addresses postural distortion (poor posture), biomechanical dysfunction, nerve compression syndrome and ischemia.
Nocturia– Is defined by the International Continence Society (ICS) as “the complaint that the individual has to wake at night one or more times for voiding.”
PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyl) – A synthetic organic chemical compound of chlorine attached to biphenyl, which is a molecule composed of two benzene rings. Polychlorinated biphenyls were widely used as dielectric and coolant fluids, for example in electrical apparatus, cutting fluids for machining operations, carbon paper and in heat transfer fluids. Due to PCBs’ environmental toxicity and classification as a persistent organic pollutant, PCB production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Also called hyperandrogenic anovulation (HA), or Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is one of the most common endocrine disorders among women. PCOS has a diverse range of causes that are not entirely understood, but there is evidence that it is largely a genetic disease. Others say it is generally a metabolic dysfunction, since it is reversible. Even though the name suggests that the ovaries are the cornerstone of disease pathology, cysts are the ‘result’ , not the cause of the disease. Gynecologists often see it as a gynecological problem, with the ovary as the primary organ affected. However, recent insights shows a multisystem disorder, with the primary problems lying in hormonal regulation in hypothalamus, with involvement of many organs. Treatments like wedge resection or laparoscopic drilling of ovaries are still performed around the world, based on this false ‘ovary-focused’ belief. It is thought to be one of the leading causes of female subfertility and the most frequent endocrine problem in women of reproductive age. The most common immediate symptoms are anovulation, excess androgenic hormones and insulin resistance. Anovulation results in irregular menstruation, amenorrhea and ovulation-related infertility. Hormone imbalance generally causes acne and hirsutism. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels. The symptoms and severity of the syndrome vary greatly among those affected.
Polyp – An endometrial polyp or uterine polyp is a mass in the inner lining of the uterus. They may have a large flat base (sessile) or be attached to the uterus by an elongated pedicle (pedunculated). Pedunculated polyps are more common than sessile. They range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) – Genetic profiling of embryos prior to implantation. PGD is considered in a similar fashion to prenatal diagnosis. When used to screen for a specific genetic disease, its main advantage is that it avoids selective pregnancy termination, as the method makes it highly likely that the baby will be free of the disease under consideration. PGD thus is an adjunct to assisted reproductive technology, and requires in vitro fertilization (IVF) to obtain oocytes or embryos for evaluation.
Probiotics – The World Health Organization’s 2001 definition of probiotics is ‘live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health beneﬁt on the host.’
Progesterone (P4) – An endogenous steroid hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and embryogenesis of humans and other species.
Qigong – Chi kung, or chi gung (literally: “Life Energy Cultivation”) is a practice of aligning body, breath and mind for health, meditation and martial arts training. With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy and martial arts, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi) or what has been translated as “life energy”.
Reductionism – Modern bioscientific position that holds that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can be reduced to accounts of individual constituents.
RPL (recurrent pregnancy loss) – RPL, or recurrent miscarriage, is the occurrence of three or more consecutive pregnancies that end in miscarriage of the fetus before viability.
Spermatogenesis – The process in which sperm are produced.
Uterine Lining – Uterine lining, or, endometrium, is the inner mucous membrane of the uterus.
Vaginal pH – A measure of the acidity or basicity of vaginal fluids. A pH less than 7 is said to be acidic and a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Pure water has a pH very close to 7.
Varicocele – An abnormal enlargement of veins in the scrotum.
Visceral Manipulation – A physical treatment primarily used by massage therapists for conditions of the abdominal organs; it most commonly includes kneading and manipulation of the abdomen.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) – Organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Most scents or odours are of VOCs. VOCs play an important role in communication between plants and messages from plants to animals. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs are regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are the highest. Harmful VOCs typically are not acutely toxic, but have compounding long-term health effects. Because the concentrations are usually low and the symptoms slow to develop, research into VOCs and their effects is difficult.
Vulvodynia – A chronic pain syndrome that affects the vulvar area and occurs without an identifiable cause. Symptoms typically include a feeling of burning or irritation. The exact cause is unknown but is believed to involve a number of factors, including genetics, immunology and possibly diet. Diagnosis is by ruling out other possible causes.
Y Chromosome Microdeletion (YCM) – A family of genetic disorders caused by missing gene(s) in the Y chromosome. Many men with YCM exhibit no symptoms and lead normal lives. However, YCM is also known to be present in a significant number of men with reduced fertility. Men with reduced sperm production (in up to 20% of men with reduced sperm count, some form of YCM has been detected) varies from oligozoospermia, significant lack of sperm, or azoospermia, complete lack of sperm.