At the Harley Street Fertility Clinic, we understand that when you are dealing with fertility issues and treatment, there is a lot of information to digest, and details to understand.

As well as the often complex medical terms and jargon, there is of course the rollercoaster of emotions that this journey takes you on, and things can often feel like a challenge.

To try to make life a little easier, and take away the urge to hit Google every five minutes, we have compiled a glossary of terms and over the next few months we will bring you ‘The Harley Street Fertility Clinic’s A to Z of Fertility’.

We are, as expected, starting with A and by the end of the alphabet, we will create a PDF that you can request, which means you will have all the information saved in one safe place.

So, let’s get started.

A is for……

Abstinence is when couples don’t have sex and this might seem a strange thing to mention here, given that this is exactly what people are meant to be doing if they are trying to get pregnant! However, refraining from sexual activity is needed sometimes, for example when semen samples are going to be taken and then tested, so you may be asked to do this at some point and it is a totally normal request. This is required also for IVF treatment when the female partner is having egg collection.

If you find that you are unable to carry a baby to term, adoption is one of the alternatives you can consider. This is the process used to become a child’s legal parents, it can be timely and challenging but it is worth it as it means you will be able to bring a child (or children) up as your own.

Entering into fertility treatment isn’t something anyone does on a whim, but it is a subject many people think they are knowledgeable about. Do your own research and read up about the options as much as you can but if you are looking for 100% reliable, truthful advice, this has to come from a medical professional.

The NHS and private clinics like ours will provide you with the information you need to make an informed choice about your options and treatment plan. Only you will know what is right. So while family and friends will be well meaning, they probably won’t know their stuff as well as the professionals.

Age is certainly a major factor when it comes to fertility and the younger a woman is, the more likely it will be that she will be able to conceive naturally. Women are most fertile between the ages of 20 and 29, with fertility decreasing at 30, and then again from the age of 35. This happens because as women get older, they have fewer eggs remaining and the quality of the eggs that remain, tends to be poorer. When it comes to men, time is slightly more on their side, but fertility does still decrease as they get older.

There are many mixed messages about alcohol and conception, as well as drinking during pregnancy. What we would say is that drinking alcohol can impact your fertility and if you drink too much when you are pregnant, that can potentially harm your baby. Our suggestion is to cut down or ideally stop when trying and not only will it improve your fertility, but you will have an overall healthier lifestyle – and no hangovers. Avoid during pregnancy.

Andrology is the medical term for treating health issues in men and includes the reproductive system and urology. We have a specialist andrologist and consultant urologist as part of our core medical team who can offer a range of services and treatments for male fertility problems, including semen analysis, surgical sperm retrieval (SSR), sperm DNA fragmentation tests and sperm oxidative stress test. If a male partner does not have sperm in the ejaculate, the sperm can be retrieved surgically from the epididymis or testis under anaesthesia, for use in IVF/ICSI treatment.

If you are dealing with fertility issues and finding it hard to conceive, there may well be times when you feel angry about your situation. Please believe us when we say that this is totally normal and understandable. Life can seem very unfair when the one thing you have always wanted, just isn’t happening. It is really important to talk about these feelings with your partner, family, friends or a member of your medical team. They can help you with your feelings, suggest ways to deal with what is happening and we always remind people that if you can, keep the stress levels down as this doesn’t help you when you are trying to get pregnant. At Harley Street Fertility Clinic we offer counselling and acupuncture to reduce your stress and have three in-house counsellors and two acupuncturists.

Anovulation is when a woman’s ovary doesn’t produce, mature or release eggs, which in essence is an absence of ovulation. Many women will experience anovulatory cycles during their lives and it doesn’t mean they have fertility issues, but if it happens often, it is a good idea to speak to your GP and have some tests done so you can find out why. This is common in women with polycystic ovaries. It is a good idea to get yourself checked.

Anti-Mullerian Hormone
Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) is a hormone produced by cells within the ovary and can give a doctor an indication of how fertile you are. We should point out that AMH levels tend to be lower in older women, and this is something that will be tested at the start of your fertility journey. This test is generally not carried out in the NHS. If you speak to your GP, he/she might be able to do it. Otherwise, this test can be done privately.

Assumptions can be very quickly made when you are dealing with fertility issues, especially in the digital age where Google can give you the answer to anything. The trouble with this is that you can easily self-diagnose the wrong problem, which in turn can cause added stress and worry. If you do have concerns it is much better to speak to a medical professional so investigations can be made to find out what is really going on and if there is a problem at all.

Asthenozoospermia is the term used to describe sperm that has poor motility. When it comes to fertility issues, the problem can lie with men as well as women; one should not forget the male partner’s tests.

Artificial Insemination
Artificial Insemination (AI) is where sperm is directly placed into a woman’s womb by using a catheter. This can be done with partner’s sperm or donor sperm depending on the situation.

If you have been having regular, unprotected sex for more than six months and you aren’t pregnant, please don’t avoid seeking help. There are many reasons why fertility issues can occur, but having a clearer idea of what is happening, what can be done to help and where you can go in the future is often so much better than pretending there isn’t a problem, and worrying about it.

Azoospermia is when man’s semen contains no sperm. This may be due to blockage of the tubes carrying the sperm outside or low/no production of sperm in the testicles (nonobstructive). Under these circumstances, the sperm can be retrieved directly from epididymis or testis by the procedure called Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA)/ Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA) or Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE).

If you have any questions about these terms, or anything else when it comes to fertility, do get in touch and we would be very happy to help.

Harley Street Fertility Clinic