Dr (TCM) Attilio D'Alberto
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Fertility Dictionary

A dictionary of western and Chinese medical fertility terms

(IGF)-I - insulin-like growth factor.
ACA - Anti-cardiolipin antibodies.
Acrosome - an enzyme found in the head of a sperm that’s used to break down the outer wall of an egg (ovum).
Acupoints - specific points on the body where acupuncture or moxa are applied.
Acupuncture - the insertion of fine pins into acupuncture points along the meridian channels of the body.
Adenomyosis - when the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus.
Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) - a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that influences the production of hormones by the adrenals.
Amenorrhea - the absence of a menstrual period.
AMH - Antimullerian hormone, a measure of egg reserves.
Androgens - are made up of testosterone, androstenedione and SHBG.
Aneuploidy - an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell, for example 45 or 47 chromosomes instead of the normal 46.
Anovulation - the absence of ovulation.
Antioxidants - a molecule that stops a chain reaction causing the creation of free radicals.
Antral follicle count (AFC) - a measure of preceding follicles (potential eggs).
AOA - Assisted oocyte activation. Also known as artificial oocyte activation is the use of calcium to increase fertilization when either the sperm or egg activate poorly.
APA - Antiphospholipid antibodies.
Apgar score - is a test performed on a baby at 1 and 5 minutes after birth. The 1-minute score determines how well the baby tolerated labor. The 5-minute score shows how well the baby is doing outside the mother's womb.
ART - assisted reproductive treatment.
Asherman’s syndrome - uterine scaring that prevents the regrowth of the endometrial lining.
Assisted hatching - where an incision is made to the outer layer of the embryo (zona pellucida) to assist it to attach to the uterus wall.
Asthenozoospermia - reduced sperm motility.
Azoospermia - no sperm in the male semen.
BBT - basal body temperature.
Blastocyst - a five-six day old fertilized embryo. A blastocyst is different from a morula as it has formed into a hallow ball with an inner cavity.
Blood - the same in both western and Chinese medicines.
Blood stasis - the impairment of normal blood flow.
BMI - a mathematical equation (divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared) that tries to measure a person’s body fat.
CD4+ - T helper cell (TH1).
CD8+ - T killer cell.
CD56+ - a natural killer cell marker.
Chinese herbs - parts of plants mixed together to heal the body.
Chinese medicine - a system of medicine that uses observations in Nature to maintain good health. This system of medicine exists not only in China but surrounding countries such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
Chocolate cysts - blood filled cysts.
Chorioamnionitis - also known as intra-amniotic infection (IAI), is an inflammation of the fetal membranes due to a bacterial infection caused by an open uterus.
Clomid - also known as clomifene citrate, is a drug used to try and induce ovulation.
CMV - Cytomegalovirus, a herpes virus, which can cause birth defects.
Colostrum - first breast milk with low levels of lactose and fat.
Corpus luteum - the reformation of the collapsed follicle (egg) sack, which releases progesterone.
Corticotrophic-releasing hormone (CRH) - affects levels of the stress hormone cortisone and the timing of delivery.
Cretinism - mental and physical retardation due to hypothyroidism bought about by a lack of iodine in the pregnant mother.
Cryptorchidism - a male baby with undescended testis. Surgery (orchiopexy) is given.
Cycle monitoring - checking of hormones and ultrasound scans before an IVF cycle starts.
Cysts - a sac-like pocket of tissue that contains fluid, air, or other substances.
Cytokines - are proteins produced by the immune system that affect the behavior of immune cells, which can affect implantation and the development of the fertilized embryo.
D&C - dilatation and curettage to remove an embryo from the uterus.
Dampness - similar to fog and the wet nature of woods and forests.
Decidua - the uterus lining (endometrium or endometrial lining).
Dermoid cyst - a small collection of bodily tissues such as hair, teeth, blood, bone, fat, eyes, etc.
DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone, which is converted into testosterone.
Donor cycle - the transfer of a fertilized donor embryo.
Down regulating - the shutting down of the hypothalamus that produces GnRH, which stops the pituitary gland from producing any fertility hormones such as FSH or LH.
Down syndrome - a Trisomy 21 abnormality.
Dysmenorrhea - pain during the menstrual bleed.
E2 - estradiol.
Ectopic - growth of a fertilized egg outside of the uterus.
ECV - external cephalic version, which is used to turn a breech baby.
Edema - fluid retention in areas of the body.
Edwards' syndrome - a Trisomy 18 abnormality.
ELISA - stands for enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, which is used to test for antibodies in relation to certain infections, i.e. hepatitis C.
Embryo - a fertilized egg.
EmbryoGlue - the use of a substance to make the fertilized embryo stick to the endometrial wall in the correct place during an IVF cycle.
Embryoscope - is an incubator that maintains the necessary physiological conditions required by a living embryo whilst they are in the IVF laboratory. It incorporates a time-lapse camera that records the embryonic development.
Empty follicle syndrome - where no oocytes (eggs) are present or collected after stimulation.
Endometrial scratch - the superficial injuring of the uterus lining to stimulate the womb to be more receptive to an implanting embryo.
Endometrium/endometrial - the lining of the uterus (womb) wall.
Endomyometritis - infection of the uterus.
ERA test - endometrial receptivity array that tests the uterus lining for a certain gene to assess whether the womb is receptive for implantation of the fertilized embryo.
Estradiol - the most abundant and dominant hormone from the group of estrogens.
Estrogen - the group of hormones secreted by the developing follicle.
Excessive cold - the same as it being too cold in Nature, i.e. during Winter, when things stop growing and move slower.
Excessive heat - the same as being too hot in Nature, like in the height of Summer when its too hot and we feel uncomfortable, restless and thirsty.
Fallopian tubes - the tubes that join the ovaries to the uterus.
FET - frozen embryo transfer.
Fibroids - are non-cancerous tumors, made up of muscle and fibrous tissue that grow in or around the uterus in various sizes.
FISH - fluorescent in situ hybridization. This is used to assess the chromosomes in either the egg or sperm.
Five elements - the five phases of material change; fire, earth, metal, water and wood.
Follicle - the sack in which an egg grows before ovulation occurs.
Free androgen level (FAI) - FAI is calculated by Tx100/SHBG.
Free radicals - an uncharged molecule in a cell.
FSH - follicle stimulating hormone, released by the pituitary gland that stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles (eggs).
Gametes - the male and female reproductive cells; sperm and eggs.
G-CSF - granulocyte-colony stimulating factor.
Gestation - the period of pregnancy.
GGD - global growth delay.
Globozoospermia - is a rare condition characterized by the presence of 100% round-headed spermatozoa lacking an acrosome.
GnRH - gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which causes the secretion of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland.
GM-CSF - granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor.
Gonadal dysgenesis - a congenital developmental disorder of the reproductive organs leading to infertility.
Harmony test - a blood test that can be taken from 10 weeks of pregnancy, which measures the likelihood of carrying a Down’s syndrome, Edwards syndrome or a Patau syndrome baby.
Harvesting - egg collection.
Hatching - enzymes released by the blastocyst erodes a hole in the uterus wall to aid implantation.
HCG - human chorionic gonadotropin, which is used by pregnancy tests to detect pregnancy.
H-EnSCs - human endometrial stromal cells (uterus lining).
HGH - human growth hormone.
HLA - human leukocyte antigens. Higher levels are commonly seen in couples that have a close genetic match.
HPA - hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal system (axis).
HPO - hypothalamic–pituitary–ovarian system (axis).
HPT - home pregnancy test.
HPT - Hypothalamic–pituitary–thyroid system (axis).
HRT - hormone replacement therapy (estrogens).
Hyaluronic acid (HA) receptors - found on the head of a mature sperm, which unlocks the egg allowing entry and conception.
Hyfosy - an internal ultrasound scan using a contrast solution of sterile water and sterile inert gel.
Hyperprolactinemia - higher than normal levels of prolactin.
Hypothalamus - the area in the brain that releases GnRH.
Hysteroscopy - the examination of the uterus using a small telescope.
Iatrogenic - illnesses caused by medical examination or treatment.
ICSI - intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection.
Immune testing - the testing of cytokines and NK cells to determine if a woman has a hyperactive immune response.
IMSI - intra-cytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection.
In vitro - Latin for glass - inside a test tube, dish, etc, that’s outside the body.
In vivo - Latin for living within - inside the body.
Infertility - the inability to conceive after 12 months of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.
Inhibin - the hormone released by a mature egg that stops the production of FSH.
Intralipid infusions - the infusion into the blood of essential fatty acids. Mainly contains soybean oil.
IUI - intra-uterine insemination, is the injection of sperm into the uterus.
IVF - in vitro fertilization. Assisted fertility treatment.
IVIg - intravenous immunoglobulin. treatment of the immune system.
IVM - in vitro maturation.
Jing - also known as essence; a more concentrated form of yin that is housed in the kidneys. In men it is his semen and in women her eggs.
Laparoscopic ovarian drilling - the making of tiny holes on the surface of the ovaries.
Laparoscopy - the examination of the pelvis using a small telescope.
Laparotomy - a large incision made through the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity.
Leydig cells - are found in male testis and produce testosterone.
LH - luteal hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that triggers ovulation.
LIF - leukemia inhibitory factor is essential for implantation and is produced by IL-4 cytokine.
Linea nigra - is Latin for black line. It’s a dark vertical line that appears on the abdomen, between the belly button and the pubic area.
Lipids - are organic compounds made up of fats and oils.
LIT - lymphocyte immune therapy, where white blood cells (lymphocytes) are taken from the father (or a third party) and are injected into the woman’s skin.
Liver qi stagnation - the stagnation of energy in the liver organ.
Long IVF cycle - down regulation before stimulation.
LPO - lipoperoxidation. A measure of oxidative stress. Similar to TAC.
Luteinized unruptured follicle syndrome - when the egg is not released by the follicle sack following a surge of LH.
Macrosomia - excessive fetal growth and size. Weight varies but generally more than 4500g.
MACS - magnetic activated cell sorting (sperm selection technique).
MDA - malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress in semen.
Meconium - a newborn’s first poo, which is dark green in color.
Menorrhagia - a heavy bleed at the start of the period.
Metabolomics - a test of the fluid from the dish containing an embryo is growing for levels of metabolites that identify embryos with the best chance of implantation.
Mittelschmerz - ovulation pain.
Mongolian blue spot - a birthmark on the lower back commonly seen in babies from an Asian descent.
Morphokinetics - the use of time-lapse photography to playback embryo development.
Morula - a 3-4 day old fertilized embryo with an identical number of cells. Once an outer wall is made a few days later, the embryo develops a cavity and is then called a blastocyst.
Mosaicism - a term used to describe different chromosome positions that look like mosaic tiles.
Moxa - also called moxibustion is the use of heat therapy on specific acupoints.
Natural cycle - an IVF cycle where less stimulation is given to produce fewer eggs but of better quality.
ng (nanogram) - a unit of substance equal to one billionth of a gram.
NK cells - natural killer cells that form part of the immune system.
Oligohydramnios - a lack of amniotic fluid in the womb.
Oligomenorrhea - a very irregular menstrual cycle that occurs every 35 days to 6 months.
Oligozoospermia - reduced sperm concentration.
Oocyte - an egg that hasn’t been fertilized.
Orchiopexy - surgery to correct undescended testicals.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) - over stimulation of the ovaries.
Ovaries - the female reproductive organs containing follicles.
Ovulation - the release of the egg from the follicle sack.
Oxytocin - a hormone that aids sperm movement in the uterus, regulates anxiety, induces labor and the release of breast milk.
P4 - progesterone.
Patau's syndromes - a Trisomy 13 abnormality.
PCO - multiple cysts on the ovary without higher levels of testosterone or LH as seen in PCOS.
PCOS - polycystic ovary syndrome.
PCT - penetrate cervical mucus test.
Pertussis - whopping cough. Pregnant women can be vaccinated between 28-32 weeks.
PGD - pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is a technique that enables people with a specific inherited condition avoid passing it on to their children.
PGS - pre-implantation genetic screening involves checking the chromosomes of embryos conceived by IVF or ICSI for any genetic abnormalities.
Phytoestrogens - naturally occurring estrogens found in plants.
PICSI - physiological intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection with hyaluronic acid.
Pituitary gland - the gland that secretes FSH and LH.
Placenta - an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall.
Placenta previa - where the placenta partially or wholly blocks the neck of the uterus, thereby preventing normal delivery of a baby. In such cases a caesarean is normally performed.
pmol (picomole) - a unit of substance equal to one trillionth (10-12) of a mole.
PMS - premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMT.
Pre-eclampsia (PE) - a disorder of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and a large amount of protein in the urine.
Primip - an abbreviation for primigravida, that means a woman who is pregnant for the first time.
Progesterone - the steroid hormone secreted by the corpus luteum.
Progestins - a group of steroid hormones produced by the corpus luteum. The main progestin is progesterone.
Progestogens - a group of steroid hormones produced by the corpus luteum. The main progestin is progesterone.
Prolactin - stimulates breast development and lactation.
Proteinuria - too much protein in the urine (>30mg/mmol).
PSA - prostate specific antigen.
Qi - energy, however qi comes from several organs; lungs, spleen and kidneys.
Relaxin - a female hormone produced by the ovaries and placenta that relaxes the uterus during implantation, pregnancy and labor.
ROS - reactive oxygen species, a by-product of oxygen metabolism.
Scratching - the slight tearing of the uterine wall to assist the fertilized embryo implant.
SHBG - Sex hormone-binding globulin.
Shen - the mind in Chinese medicine.
Short IVF cycle - stimulation of the ovaries without being down regulated before hand.
Sperm - the male gamete.
TAC - total antioxidant capacity. Used to measure the level of oxidative stress in semen.
Teratozoospermia - reduced sperm morphology.
TESE - testicular sperm extraction is the process of removing a small portion of tissue from the testicle and extracting viable sperm cells for ICSI.
TH1 - interferon-? (IFN), interleukin (IL)-2 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-ß, inhibit pregnancy.
TH2 - IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-9, IL-10 and IL-13 cytokines, protect pregnancy.
Toxoplasmosis - a parasite that can cause infertility.
TRH - thyrotropin-releasing hormone.
Trimester - a three-month period of pregnancy.
TSH - thyroid stimulating hormone.
Varicoceles - are enlarged varicose vein that occurs in the scrotum, which can cause male infertility.
Waist-hip ratio - a more accurate measure of body fat than BMI; divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
Yang - male, the sun, active, midday, hot, summer, etc.
Yin - female, the moon, passive, midnight, cold, winter, etc.
Zona pellucida - the outer layer of a fertilized embryo.
Zygote - a newly fertilized egg.

Extract from the book My Fertility Book by Dr (TCM) Attilio D'Alberto