14.6: Glossary- The Reproductive System - Biology

14.6: Glossary- The Reproductive System - Biology

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alveoli (of the breast) milk-secreting cells in the mammary gland

ampulla (of the uterine tube) middle portion of the uterine tube in which fertilization often occurs

antrum fluid-filled chamber that characterizes a mature tertiary (antral) follicle

areola highly pigmented, circular area surrounding the raised nipple and containing areolar glands that secrete fluid important for lubrication during suckling

Bartholin’s glands (also, greater vestibular glands) glands that produce a thick mucus that maintains moisture in the vulva area; also referred to as the greater vestibular glands

blood–testis barrier tight junctions between Sertoli cells that prevent bloodborne pathogens from gaining access to later stages of spermatogenesis and prevent the potential for an autoimmune reaction to haploid sperm

body of uterus middle section of the uterus

broad ligament wide ligament that supports the uterus by attaching laterally to both sides of the uterus and pelvic wall

bulbourethral glands (also, Cowper’s glands) glands that secrete a lubricating mucus that cleans and lubricates the urethra prior to and during ejaculation

cervix elongate inferior end of the uterus where it connects to the vagina

clitoris (also, glans clitoris) nerve-rich area of the vulva that contributes to sexual sensation during intercourse

corpus albicans nonfunctional structure remaining in the ovarian stroma following structural and functional regression of the corpus luteum

corpus cavernosum either of two columns of erectile tissue in the penis that fill with blood during an erection

corpus luteum transformed follicle after ovulation that secretes progesterone

corpus spongiosum (plural = corpora cavernosa) column of erectile tissue in the penis that fills with blood during an erection and surrounds the penile urethra on the ventral portion of the penis

ductus deferens (also, vas deferens) duct that transports sperm from the epididymis through the spermatic cord and into the ejaculatory duct; also referred as the vas deferens

ejaculatory duct duct that connects the ampulla of the ductus deferens with the duct of the seminal vesicle at the prostatic urethra

endometrium inner lining of the uterus, part of which builds up during the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle and then sheds with menses

epididymis (plural = epididymides) coiled tubular structure in which sperm start to mature and are stored until ejaculation

fimbriae fingerlike projections on the distal uterine tubes

follicle ovarian structure of one oocyte and surrounding granulosa (and later theca) cells

folliculogenesis development of ovarian follicles from primordial to tertiary under the stimulation of gonadotropins

fundus (of the uterus) domed portion of the uterus that is superior to the uterine tubes

gamete haploid reproductive cell that contributes genetic material to form an offspring

glans penis bulbous end of the penis that contains a large number of nerve endings

gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) hormone released by the hypothalamus that regulates the production of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland

gonads reproductive organs (testes in men and ovaries in women) that produce gametes and reproductive hormones

granulosa cells supportive cells in the ovarian follicle that produce estrogen

hymen membrane that covers part of the opening of the vagina

infundibulum (of the uterine tube) wide, distal portion of the uterine tube terminating in fimbriae

inguinal canal opening in abdominal wall that connects the testes to the abdominal cavity

isthmus narrow, medial portion of the uterine tube that joins the uterus

labia majora hair-covered folds of skin located behind the mons pubis

labia minora thin, pigmented, hairless flaps of skin located medial and deep to the labia majora

lactiferous ducts ducts that connect the mammary glands to the nipple and allow for the transport of milk

lactiferous sinus area of milk collection between alveoli and lactiferous duct

Leydig cells cells between the seminiferous tubules of the testes that produce testosterone; a type of interstitial cell

mammary glands glands inside the breast that secrete milk

menarche first menstruation in a pubertal female

menses shedding of the inner portion of the endometrium out though the vagina; also referred to as menstruation

menses phase phase of the menstrual cycle in which the endometrial lining is shed

menstrual cycle approximately 28-day cycle of changes in the uterus consisting of a menses phase, a proliferative phase, and a secretory phase

mons pubis mound of fatty tissue located at the front of the vulva

Müllerian duct duct system present in the embryo that will eventually form the internal female reproductive structures

myometrium smooth muscle layer of uterus that allows for uterine contractions during labor and expulsion of menstrual blood

oocyte cell that results from the division of the oogonium and undergoes meiosis I at the LH surge and meiosis II at fertilization to become a haploid ovum

oogenesis process by which oogonia divide by mitosis to primary oocytes, which undergo meiosis to produce the secondary oocyte and, upon fertilization, the ovum

oogonia ovarian stem cells that undergo mitosis during female fetal development to form primary oocytes

ovarian cycle approximately 28-day cycle of changes in the ovary consisting of a follicular phase and a luteal phase

ovaries female gonads that produce oocytes and sex steroid hormones (notably estrogen and progesterone)

ovulation release of a secondary oocyte and associated granulosa cells from an ovary

ovum haploid female gamete resulting from completion of meiosis II at fertilization

penis male organ of copulation

perimetrium outer epithelial layer of uterine wall

polar body smaller cell produced during the process of meiosis in oogenesis

prepuce (also, foreskin) flap of skin that forms a collar around, and thus protects and lubricates, the glans penis; also referred as the foreskin

primary follicles ovarian follicles with a primary oocyte and one layer of cuboidal granulosa cells

primordial follicles least developed ovarian follicles that consist of a single oocyte and a single layer of flat (squamous) granulosa cells

proliferative phase phase of the menstrual cycle in which the endometrium proliferates

prostate gland doughnut-shaped gland at the base of the bladder surrounding the urethra and contributing fluid to semen during ejaculation

puberty life stage during which a male or female adolescent becomes anatomically and physiologically capable of reproduction

rugae (of the vagina) folds of skin in the vagina that allow it to stretch during intercourse and childbirth

scrotum external pouch of skin and muscle that houses the testes

secondary follicles ovarian follicles with a primary oocyte and multiple layers of granulosa cells

secondary sex characteristics physical characteristics that are influenced by sex steroid hormones and have supporting roles in reproductive function

secretory phase phase of the menstrual cycle in which the endometrium secretes a nutrient-rich fluid in preparation for implantation of an embryo

semen ejaculatory fluid composed of sperm and secretions from the seminal vesicles, prostate, and bulbourethral glands

seminal vesicle gland that produces seminal fluid, which contributes to semen

seminiferous tubules tube structures within the testes where spermatogenesis occurs

Sertoli cells cells that support germ cells through the process of spermatogenesis; a type of sustentacular cell

sperm (also, spermatozoon) male gamete

spermatic cord bundle of nerves and blood vessels that supplies the testes; contains ductus deferens

spermatid immature sperm cells produced by meiosis II of secondary spermatocytes

spermatocyte cell that results from the division of spermatogonium and undergoes meiosis I and meiosis II to form spermatids

spermatogenesis formation of new sperm, occurs in the seminiferous tubules of the testes

spermatogonia (singular = spermatogonium) diploid precursor cells that become sperm

spermiogenesis transformation of spermatids to spermatozoa during spermatogenesis

suspensory ligaments bands of connective tissue that suspend the breast onto the chest wall by attachment to the overlying dermis

tertiary follicles (also, antral follicles) ovarian follicles with a primary or secondary oocyte, multiple layers of granulosa cells, and a fully formed antrum

testes (singular = testis) male gonads

theca cells estrogen-producing cells in a maturing ovarian follicle

uterine tubes (also, fallopian tubes or oviducts) ducts that facilitate transport of an ovulated oocyte to the uterus

uterus muscular hollow organ in which a fertilized egg develops into a fetus

vagina tunnel-like organ that provides access to the uterus for the insertion of semen and from the uterus for the birth of a baby

vulva external female genitalia

Wolffian duct duct system present in the embryo that will eventually form the internal male reproductive structures

What to Know About Cervix Function and Female Health

Brian Levine, MD, MS, FACOG, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as in reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

The cervix is the lower portion (or the "neck") of the uterus. It is approximately 1 inch long and 1 inch wide and opens into the vagina. The cervix functions as the entrance for sperm to enter the uterus. During menstruation, the cervix opens slightly to allow menstrual blood to flow out of the uterus.

Glossary for Reproductive Health Facts and Figures

The number of births to females in a particular age category in a particular year compared to the number of females in that age category, usually expressed as births per woman or births per 1,000 women in the age category. 2

Age-specific pregnancy rate

Total number of pregnancies for age group per 1,000 females in age group Pregnancies include live births, stillbirths (or deliveries), and therapeutic abortions. 2

Anemia means there is not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. The most common cause is not enough iron, which the body needs to make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. 3


This is a type of brain and central nervous system defect in which most of the brain and skull are missing. Affected babies may be stillborn or die in the first few days of life. 4

Appropriate weight for gestational age (AGA)

A fetus or newborn infant whose size is within the normal range his or her gestational age. This would include infants with birth weights for gestational age that are greater than the 10th percentile cut off but less than the 90th percentile cut off. 2

Appropriate weight for gestational age (AGA) Rate

The percentage of live births whose birth weight is above the standard 10 th percentile and below the 90 th percentile of the sex-specific birth weight for gestational age. 2

Assisted vaginal delivery or Vacuum-assisted delivery

This is where a vacuum is used to help the baby move through the birth canal. The vacuum uses a soft plastic cup that attaches to the baby's head with suction and them helps guide the baby to delivery. 3

Binge Drinking

This is when a woman drinks 4 or more drinks on one occasion. 2

Birth weight

The weight of a fetus or infant at the time of delivery. 3

Breech and malpresentation

The baby must pass through the pelvic bones to reach the vaginal opening. The best position for the baby to pass through the pelvis is with the head down. However, the baby is not always facing head down. A breech presentation is when the baby's bottom is down. Sometimes, the shoulder, arm or trunk may present first. 3

Breastfeeding Initiation

Any attempt, even once, made by the mother to initiate breastfeeding is considered breastfeeding initiation. 5

Cesarean section

A cesarean section is a surgical procedure in the baby is taken out through the mother's abdomen. 3

Chromosomal abnormalities

Chromosomal abnormalities or chromosomal conditions are due to changes in teh number or structure of chromosomes from the normal state that results in loss or gain of genetic material. 6

Chromosomal aneuploidy

This is a type of chromosomal abnormality (that can result in a congenital anomaly) in which the chromosome number is different (too many or too few). 7

Clubfoot is birth defect of the foot where one or both feet are turned down due to the tendons (tissues that connect muscle to bone) are shorter than usual. 8

Congenital anomaly

A congenital anomaly is a condition that results from an abnormality of structure, function or metabolism in one or more parts of the body, with

potential to adversely affect health, development or function. 910 Anomalies are present at birth and may be inherited genetically, acquired during gestation, or inflicted during birth. Also called a birth defect.

Congenital dislocation of the hip

This is a dislocation of the hip that occurs from birth. 3

Congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects are a group of congenital anomalies involving problems with the structure of the heart or great vessels which is present at birth. 3

Congenital scoliosis

This refers to a spinal deformity caused by the vertebrae not being formed properly. 3

Crude birth rate

Total number of live births per 1,000 population. 2

A delivery may consist of one or more live born or stillborn fetuses. The number of deliveries in a given period will be equal to or less than the number of births because multiple births (twins, triplets or higher-order births) are counted as single deliveries.

This refers to a serious mental illness of the brain that causes sadness, loss of interest in activity, energy loss and feelings of worthlessness. 3

Diabetes mellitus

This is a disease in which blood sugar levels are too high in the blood. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose enter your cells to give you energy. In Type 1 diabetes your body does not make enough insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not make insulin well. 3

Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome is a congenital anomaly that occurs as a result of the presence of an extra chromosome 21. It is characterized by intellectual disability a characteristic facial appearance, and weak muscle tone. Other abnormalities may be present such as heart defects or digestive abnormalities. 11


This refers to the condition of having an abnormal amount of cholesterol or fat in the blood. 12

This refers to a difficult birth caused by an awkwardly positioned fetus or a small pelvis of the mother of failure of the uterus and cervix to contract and expand normally. 13

Ectopic pregnancies

This occurs when the fertilized egg grows in an abnormal place, outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. 3

Epidural analgesia

This is a pain management technique used for the mother during labour that is introduced into the space around the spinal cord. 13

Exclusive breastfeeding

With exclusive breastfeeding, the infant is fed only breast milk. The infant is given no other food or liquid, not even water. 1415 Vitamins and mineral supplements or medicines are allowed.

Extremely Low Birth Weight

Birth weight less than 1,000 grams. Contrast with small for gestational age. 2

Extremely Low Birth Weight Rate (ELBW)

The rate of live births less than 1,000 grams weight range at the time of delivery per total live births. 2

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

This disorder is caused by the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. The infant/child may have a number of physical and behavioural problems such as difficulty learning and remembering, controlling emotions, and communicating and socializing. 3

Fetal-infant mortality

These refer to deaths occur in fetuses or infants between the 20 th week of gestation up to the 364 th day of life. 2

Full-term infants/births

From 37 completed weeks to less than 42 completed weeks (259 to 293 days) of

gestation. 2 Also may be abbreviated to 'term' only.

Gene malformation

Please refer to congenital abnormalities.

General Fertility Rate (GFR)

The number of live births during a given area and period pre 1,000 female population aged 15-49. 2

Genitourinary tract anomalies

Genitourinary tract anomalies are disorders of the genitourinary tract system present at birth due to deformity or malformation. Congenital anomalies in the urinary tract system can include defects in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. 16 Genital defects are caused by abnormal levels of sex hormones during fetal development and may cause defects of the external genital organs. 16

Gestational age

Gestational age is calculated as the interval between the date of delivery of the fetus or newborn and the first day of the mother's last normal menstrual period. It can also be any estimate of that interval, based on ultrasound, a physical examination or other method. 17 Canadian birth registration documents do not specify how the gestational age was calculated. Pre-term refers to a period of gestation less than 37 completed weeks term, 37 through 41 completed weeks and post-term, 42 or more completed weeks.

Gestational diabetes

This is when a mothers develops diabetes during pregnancy. Please see the definition for 'diabetes mellitus' for more information. 3

Gestational hypertension

This is when a mother develops high blood pressure during pregnancy. 3

This refers to the number of times a woman has been pregnant, including the current pregnancy. 5

This is an inflammation of the liver. The liver helps to digest food, store energy and remove poisons from the body. 3

HIV refers to the human immunodeficiency virus, which damages the body's immune system. The more advanced stage is AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). 3


This is when someone has high blood pressure, and it may cause problems such as stroke and heart attack. 3

Infant mortality

Infant mortality is the death of a live born infant that occurs between day one of birth and 364 days of life and is commonly broken down into two different periods the neonatal period (birth-27 days), and post-neonatal (28-364 days). The neonatal period can be further divided into neonatal (early neonatal: 0-6 days and late neonatal: 7-27 days).

Intrauterine growth restriction

Intrauterine growth restriction refers to the poor growth of a baby while in the mother's womb during pregnancy. 3

Intrauterine hypoxia or Fetal hypoxia.

This refers to a condition where there are low oxygen levels in the fetus. 18

Intrauterine (congenital) infection

This is an infection in the fetus from the mother's bloodstream. 19


This refers to the ability of the body to develop a normal immune response. 18

Large for gestational age (LGA)

A fetus or newborn infant whose size is above the normal range his or her gestational age. This would include infants with birth weights for gestational age that are greater than the 90th percentile cut off. Also called large for dates. 2

Large for gestational age (LGA) Rate

The large-for-gestational-age rate is the percent of singleton live births whose birth weight is above the standard 90 th percentile of the sex-specific birth weight for gestational age. 2

Limb reductions

This refers to a congenital anomaly where a limb is reduced from it's normal size or is missing. 20

The complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception, irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy, which, after such separation, breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as heartbeat, umbilical cord pulsation, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached. A live birth is not necessarily a viable birth. 17

Low birth weight

Birth weight less than 2,500 grams. 17


Miscarriages are pregnancies that end by spontaneous abortion (natural causes) before 20 weeks gestation. 3

Moderate/late preterm birth

Moderate/late preterm birth is a live birth that occurs between 32 completed weeks (i.e., ≥224 days) and 37 completed weeks (i.e., <259 days) of gestation. 21

Multiparous women

A term used to describe those woman who have given birth to at least one child. 13

Multiple birth

This occurs when a pregnancy results in the development of two or more fetuses (not referenced) A delivery that results in more than one birth, whether live born or stillborn. This includes the delivery of twins, triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets and more. 3

Musculoskeletal anomalies

Musculoskeletal anomalies are disorders of the musculoskeletal system present at birth. They can be due to deformity or malformation. Birth defects can occur in any bone or muscle, although the bones and muscles of the skull, face, spine, hips, legs, and feet are affected most often. 16 Musculoskeletal anomalies include: limb reductions, congenital dislocation of the hip, clubfoot, polydactyly, macrocephaly, congenital scoliosis, and spina bifida occulta.

Neonatal period

The neonatal period commences at birth and ends 28 completed days after birth. 2 The neonatal period can be further divided into neonatal (early neonatal: 0-6 days and late neonatal: 7-27 days). 22

Neural tube defect

A neural tube defect - a genetic malformation involving the skull and spinal cord. These defects are primarily caused by a failure of the neural tube to close during development of the embryo. 9 Neural tube defects include: anencephalus, spina bifida, and encephalocele.

Non-reassuring fetal status

This refers to an abnormal fetal heart rate or rhythm. 18

Nulliparous women

A term used to describe those woman who have never given birth to a live infant. 18


A congenital condition where the infant has an unusually large head. 18

Meconium aspiration

This occurs when a newborn baby breathes in a mixture of meconium (early feces of the infant passed by a newborn right after birth) and amniotic fluid into the lungs, during time of delivery. 3

Moderate preterm births

These are preterm births occurring with gestational ages between 32 and 36 weeks. 2

Multiparous women

Multiparous women are women who have given birth more than once.

Multiple birth

A multiple birth occurs when a pregnancy results in the development of two or more fetuses. 17

Multiple birth rate

The multiple birth rate is defined as the number of multiple deliveries out of the total number of deliveries over a given period of time. 2

Musculoskeletal anomalies

Musculoskeletal anomalies are disorders of the musculoskeletal system present at birth. They can be due to deformity or malformation. 16 Musculoskeletal anomalies include: limb reductions, congenital dislocation of the hip, clubfoot, polydactyly, macrocephaly, congenital scoliosis, and spina bifida occulta.

Orofacial clefts

Orofacial clefts are anomalies of the lip and palate that develop during the critical period of development of the lip and primary palate (five to seven weeks following conception) and the secondary palate (eight to twelve weeks following conception) (8).


Osteoporous is a condition where your bones are weak and more likely break. This usually occurs in older women. 3

Parity of Mother

The number of live births a woman has had to date (excludes fetal deaths or stillbirths). A woman with zero parity has had no live births a woman of parity 1 has had one live birth, of parity 2, two live births, and so on. In the case of a first delivery resulting in live twins, the woman has a parity of 1 after the first twin is born and a parity of 2 after the second twin is born. 17

Perinatal death

The death occurs in a fetus or infant between week 20 of gestation and day 6 of life, and thus includes all stillbirths. 2

Perinatal period

The perinatal period commences at 22 completed weeks (154 days) of gestation

(the time when birth weight is normally 500 g), and ends seven completed days

Peripheral nerve injury

This is when there is damage to the peripheral nerves, which carry information to and from the brain. 3

Placenta abruption

This is a condition where the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. It can separate partially or completely. If this happens, the baby may not get enough oxygen and nutrients in the womb. 3

Placenta previa

Placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix. 3


This is a condition in which a person has more than five fingers per hand or five toes per foot. 3

Post-neonatal period

The post-neonatal period commences at 28 days after births and ends at 364 days after birth. 2

Post-partum hemorrhage

Postpartum hemorrhage (PPT) is when a woman has heavy bleeding (more than 500mL) after giving birth. 23

Post-term birth

A post-term birth is a live birth that occurs at 42 or more completed weeks (i.e., ≥294 days) of gestation. 2

Post-term birth rate

The number of live births that occur at a gestational age of 42 or more completed weeks of pregnancy, expressed at a proportion of all live births. 2


This is a condition when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20 th week of pregnancy. 3

Premature rupture of membrane (PROM)

This condition refers to a patient who beyond 37 weeks gestation and has presented with rupture of membranes (ROM) prior to the onset of labour. Preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) is ROM prior to 37 weeks. 3 During pregnancy, the membranes break or rupture when a hole or tear develops in the fluid-filled (amniotic sac) that surrounds and protects the fetus.

Preterm birth

A preterm birth is a live birth that occurs at less than 37 completed weeks (less than 259 days) of gestation. 2

Preterm birth rate

The ratio of live births with a gestational age at birth of less than 37 completed weeks, per total live births. 2

Primiparous women

Primiparous women are women who have given birth for the first time. 18

Rate of congenital anomalies (CAs)

Total number of live births or stillbirths identified as having at least one congenital anomaly per 10,000 live and stillbirths. 2

Rate of neural tube defects (NTDs)

Total number of live births or stillbirths identified with a neural tube defect per 10,000 live and stillbirths. 2

Rate of Down syndrome (DS)

Total number of live births or stillbirths identified with Down syndrome per 10,000 live and stillbirths. 2

Rate of congenital heart defects (CHDs)

Total number of live births or stillbirths identified with congenital heart defects per 10,000 live and stillbirths. 2

Rate of orofacial clefts (OFCs)

Total number of live births or stillbirths identified with orofacial clefts per 10,000 live and stillbirths. 2

Rate of musculoskeletal anomalies (MSKs)

Total number of live births or stillbirths identified with musculoskeletal anomalies per 10,000 live and stillbirths. 2


Septicaema or sepsis is an extreme response to an infection. The body sends a flood of chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the infection which causes widespread inflammation that can slow blood flow and damage organs over time. 24

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are transmitted through sexual intercourse. They can affect the general health, well-bring and reproductive capacity of those infected. 25

Shoulder dystocia

Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby's head is delivered through the vagina, but his shoulders get stuck inside the mother's body. This creates risk for the mother and the baby. Dystocia refers to a slow or difficult labour. 26

Singleton infants/births

A singleton birth occurs when a pregnancy results in the development of one fetus. 18

Small for gestational age (SGA)

The birth weight of an infant that falls below the tenth percentile of appropriate for gestational age infants, specific to the length of gestation. Kramer et al. propose sex-specific weights, based on gestational age. 21 For instance, 40 week old infants weighing less than 3,079 g (males) or 2,955 g (females) would be SGA.

Spina bifida occulta

Spina bifidia is a type of neural tube defect that happens when the bones in the spine or the spinal cord don't form correctly, leaving a gap or opening. Spina bifida occult is the mildest form of spina bifida where the gap is small. 27

A stillbirth is a death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception. The death is indicated by the fact that after such separation the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life, such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles. Only fetal deaths where the product of conception has a birth weight of 500 grams or more or the duration of pregnancy is 20 weeks or longer are registered in Canada. 17


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) 3 or Sudden unexplained infant death (SUID) is defined as the sudden, unexplained death of an infant less than one year of age. 28

Teen pregnancy rate

The number of pregnancies of teens aged 15 to 19 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19. Pregnancies include live births, stillbirths (or deliveries), and therapeutic abortions. 2

Therapeutic abortion

A therapeutic abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy resulting in the death of the fetus or embryo. Also called induced abortion. 2

Therapeutic Abortion Rate

Total number of reported therapeutic abortions for age group per 1,000 females in age group. 2

Therapeutic Abortion Ratio

Total number of reported therapeutic abortions for age group per 1,000 live births in age group. 2

Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

The number of children that a woman would have over the course of her reproductive life if she experienced the age-specific fertility rates observed in a particular calendar year. 29

Total pregnancy rate

The number of pregnancies per 1,000 females of reproductive age (15 - 49 years of age) or age-specific pregnancy rate by 5-year age group. 2 Pregnancies include live births, stillbirths (or deliveries), and therapeutic abortions.

This is a congenital anomaly in which the baby has an extra copy of chromosome 13. 3 More than 90% of these children die within the first year of life.

This is a congenital anomaly in which the baby has an extra copy of chromosome 18. 3 More than 90% of these children die within the first year of life.

Undernutrition/ Malnutrition

This occurs when someone does not get enough nutrients including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals. 3

Umbilical cord accidents

Umbilical cord accidents occur when there is a knot or abnormal placement of the cord into the placenta. These can deprive the baby of oxygen and might cause a stillbirth. 30

Very preterm birth

A very preterm birth is a live birth that occurs before the end of the 32 completed weeks (i.e., <224 days) of gestation. 21

Very low birth weight

Birth weight less than 1,500 grams or 3 pounds 5.5 ounces. 16

Very Low Birth Weight Rate (VLBW)

The rate of live births less than 1,500 grams weight range at the time of delivery per total live births. 2

Fertility Glossary

Produced by the pituitary gland, this hormone stimulates the adrenal gland. Abnormal levels of ACTH can sometimes be associated with infertility.


When bands of scar tissue form in reproductive organs and/or abdominal area that can impact fertility endometriosis can often cause these bands.

Adrenal Androgens

When male hormones (which are produced by the adrenal gland) are elevated in women with PCOS, which cause fertility problems.


When sperm cells clump together instead of moving freely.

Amenorrhea (primary)

Having never menstruated by the age of 16.

Amenorrhea (secondary)

The absence of menstruation for three months or more in women who have menstruated in the past.

American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)

A group of fertility and reproductive specialists that teach, do research on and advocate for reproductive medicine.


Examining a fetus for abnormalities by using a needle to extract amniotic fluid from the womb.


A doctor who specializes in male health, specifically reproductive health and fertility.


Rare or lack of ovulation which can occur with or without menstruation.


Substances produced by the body that attack foreign matter to prevent infection but which may also cause infertility in some cases.

Antisperm Antibody Test

A test to see if antibodies on the surface of sperm are interfering with the sperm’s ability to move, travel through cervical mucus, or fertilize an egg.

Artificial Insemination (AI)

The injection of sperm directly into a female’s vagina, cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes in order to fertilize an egg.

Asherman's Syndrome

A condition where scar tissue forms inside the uterus which may lead to infertility or menstrual irregularities.


The act of suctioning fluid or tissue from the body, typically performed with a needle or tube.

Assisted hatching

A procedure where the thick outer wall of an embryo is broken open to help facilitate implantation.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

Fertility treatments that include procedures for both the egg and the sperm such as IUI, IVF, GIFT, ICSI and ZIFT.


Sperm that are considered to be poor quality due to reduced motility.


When there are no sperm in a man’s semen which is sometimes caused by blockages.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

Temperature used to chart ovulation when taken every day first thing after awakening in the morning. The temperature rises and falls day to day due to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.

Beta HCG Test

A blood test used to measure the levels of HCG in early pregnancy.

Bicornuate uterus

An abnormality in the structure of the uterus that can cause problems with fertility and pregnancy such as fetal growth restriction. It can sometimes be fixed with surgery.


The stage of an embryo that is reached around 5 days after the egg is fertilized.


A cell taken from a blastocyst by performing a biopsy.

Blighted ovum (egg)

A fertilized egg that implants in the uterus but does not continue to develop properly.

Bromocriptine (Parlodel)

A medication that treats tumors in the pituitary gland and therefore reduces prolactin levels.

Canceled cycle

This is when an ART cycle is stopped before being completed due to problems with follicle development, lack of fertilization, or other issues.


An infection — also know as a yeast infection — sometimes found in the vagina that is caused by a common fungus with symptoms of burning, itching and discomfort.

Cervical mucus

Mucus produced by the cervix during a woman’s monthly cycle that changes consistency and increases in quantity as ovulation approaches.

Cervical smear

A cellular sample taken from the cervix and examined for cancerous cells or other abnormalities.

Cervix, incompetent

A condition where the cervix opens prematurely during pregnancy before the baby is developed and labor is ready to begin.


The inch long canal at the lower end of the uterus and above the vagina through which blood passes during menstruation, sperm travels through to reach the fallopian tubes, and a baby passes through during labor.

Chemical pregnancy

When the egg implants itself but the embryo doesn’t develop. The vast majority of miscarriages fall into this category.


A sexually transmitted disease (STD) which can damage the female and male reproductive systems causing infertility. Chlamydia can go without symptoms for years.

Chocolate cyst

An ovarian cyst with intracavitary hemorrhage and formation of a hematoma which contains old brown blood often seen with endometriosis of the ovary.


Tiny, hair like structures that help the egg move along within the fallopian tubes.


When a zygote (cell formed by fertilization) divides into enough cells to become a blastocyst.

Clinical pregnancy

When a pregnancy is confirmed through a clinical intervention like an ultrasound.

Clomiphene citrate

A medication — also known as clomid — used to trigger a surge of gonadotropins from the pituitary gland and stimulates ovulation to boost fertility.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A blood test where red and white blood cells, hemoglobin and other factors are measured in order to diagnose and evaluate potential disease.

Corpus luteum

Endocrine tissue that secretes the hormone progesterone after ovulation and during pregnancy in order to boost implantation and help maintain the pregnancy.


When eggs, embryos, and/or sperm are preserved in a controlled freezing environment for fertility treatment, donation and ART.

Cushing's syndrome

A condition where there is an excess of corticosteroids, such as cortisol, that can affect fertility and cause weight gain, male sex characteristics and other symptoms in women.


A single round of fertility treatment that takes about a month.

A sac surrounded by a membrane, which may or may not cause health problems.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

A member of the herpes groups of viruses. Most adults and children who contract CMV have no symptoms, although some people may get a fever, sore throat, fatigue and swollen glands. CMV is a risk to the fetus of a woman who contracts CMV for the first time during pregnancy, causing disabilities and developmental delays.

Danazol (danocrine)

This synthetic androgen drug is used to treat endometriosis. Side effects may include acne, changes in breast size, weight gain, and other symptoms.

DHEAS (Dihydroepiandrosterone Sulfate)

This weak male hormone is produced by the adrenal gland in some women that, in high doses, can cause excess hair growth and other symptoms. It is sometimes given to older women to help improve egg quality.

Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

A procedure where the cervix is dilated (opened) and the uterine lining is scraped away. This is often performed after a miscarriage.

Donor egg

Eggs donated by a fertile woman that can be implanted in another woman for pregnancy.

Donor embryo transfer

A procedure where an embryo created from a donor egg and/or donor sperm are transferred to a woman’s uterus during IVF to help her get pregnant.

Donor insemination

A procedure where donor sperm is injected into a woman’s vagina, cervix, or uterus as part of artificial insemination (also known as intrauterine insemination).

Donor sperm

Sperm that has been donated by men who have been screened for illnesses and selected based on ethnicity, build and other characteristics. It is usually frozen and held for six months or more before use in artificial insemination or ART.

Ectopic pregnancy

This occurs when a fertilized egg implants in a woman’s body outside of the uterus — often in a fallopian tube — causing dangerous complications before it must be terminated.

Egg collection

Procedure where eggs are collected from the ovaries by using a guided needle. Also known as Egg Retrieval.

Egg donation

The process by which a fertile woman donates her eggs to be used in the treatment of others or for research.

Egg retrieval

A procedure where ripe eggs are removed with a thin needle from the ovarian follicles for ICSI, IVF or other procedures.

Female sex cell/female gamete — also known as an ovum — which is released during ovulation and is fertilized by sperm during reproduction.


Fluid expelled by the male containing sperm.

Embryo biopsy

The removal of one or two cells from an embryo in vitro in preparation for genetic screening.

Embryo culture

When embryos develop in vitro for two to six days after the egg has been fertilized by the sperm.

Embryo freezing

Extra embryos that are not needed during a cycle can be frozen and stored for future use in a process called cryopreservation.

Embryo storage

The storage of one or more embryos to use in the future by freezing (cryopreservation).

Embryo transfer

When a fertilized embryo is placed into the uterus using a catheter as part of IVF and other ART procedures.


One of the earliest stages of the human fetus, between implantation and eight weeks of pregnancy.


The medical study of hormones, glands, hormonal systems, and how they all interact and work together.

Endometrial biopsy

A procedure where a small sample of the uterine lining (endometrium) is taken to evaluate it for abnormalities.


A condition where endometrial tissue is present in abnormal locations such as inside the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries, and in the peritoneal cavity, which often causes painful menstruation and infertility.


The tissue that lines the inside of the uterus.


Chemicals produced by the body, such as during intense exercise, that induce opiate like feelings including pain relief.


A tube located near a man’s testicles that holds sperm.


A form of the hormone estrogen that is secreted by the ovaries.


A female sex hormone that stimulates the development of female sex characteristics and the maturation of the reproductive system.

Fallopian Tubes

Two hollow tubes on either side of the uterus through which the egg is released during ovulation and where the egg and sperm meet to begin the process of fertilization.

Fertility specialist

Doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating infertility such as a Reproductive Endocrinologist.


When the egg and sperm combine to begin the process toward pregnancy.


Beginning at eight weeks after implantation, an embryo is called a fetus until it is born.


A benign tumor — also called a myoma — made of muscle cells and other tissues that is found in the uterine wall.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)

A hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates ovarian follicles to grow. It can become elevated as a woman ages and her ovarian reserve diminishes. Synthetic versions of FSH are sold under the names Follistim, Fertinex, Gonal.


A tiny sack within the ovary where a woman’s egg grows and develops each month. During ovulation, the follicle expels the egg into the fallopian tube.

Follicular fluid

The fluid that nourishes the developing egg inside of the ovarian follicles.

Follicular phase

The first phase of the monthly cycle, starting with the first day of menstrual bleeding, when ovarian follicles start to develop.

Fresh and frozen cycles

In most cases, the eggs collected from a patient are mixed with her partners fresh sperm to produce embryos within a few days. These fresh embryos are then transferred back to the patient. Where the patient´s body is not ready to receive the embryos, or where an excess of embryos is available, these embryos may be cryogenically frozen for future use. Once thawed, these embryos are transferred to the patient as a frozen cycle.


The upper part of the uterus.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

An assisted reproductive technique where a female’s eggs are extracted from the ovaries, mixed with sperm in a lab, and then placed in the fallopian tubes where fertilization can occur.


A mature sex cell such as the egg or the sperm.

The unit of inheritance. Everyone inherits two copies of each gene. A dominantly inherited genetic disease occurs when only one copy of the gene is sufficient to produce the disease e.g. Huntington's chorea. A recessively inherited disease only occurs if both copies of the defective gene are present e.g. Tay Sachs' disease, Sickle cell disease.


The basic set of genes in the chromosomes in any cell, organism or species.


The time between conception and the birth of a baby.


Reproductive glands that produce sex cells (eggs and sperm) and hormones in women, the ovaries, and in males, the testes.

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

The hypothalamus secretes this hormone, stimulating the release of gonadotropins (LH and FSH), which stimulate the testicles or ovaries.


Hormones used during ovulation induction to encourage follicular and egg development.

Hamster Test (HEPT)

When a man’s sperm are mixed with hamster eggs in a dish and the sperm are observed to see how many penetrate the eggs. This test is also known as the Sperm Penetration Assay or SPA.


A condition that often occurs with PCOS where women have excess body and facial hair, due to high levels of androgens.

Hormonal assay

Hormone test that checks for levels of hormones like FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), DHEA S (dehydroepiandresterone), prolactin and progesterone.


Chemicals produced in one organ of the body that regulates activities of other organs.

Hostile mucus

Cervical mucus that impedes the travel of sperm into the fallopian tubes for fertilization.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)

In early pregnancy this hormone helps to maintain progesterone levels it is sometimes used to trigger ovulation.

Human menopausal gonadotropin (HMG)

This hormone is used to stimulate ovulation and is made of LH and FSH.


Fluid accumulation in the scrotum.


High amounts of prolactin in the blood that can suppress LH and FSH production, affecting male and female fertility.

Hyperstimulation (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome OHSS)

A serious complication that occurs with medically induced ovulation where the ovaries swell and mild to severe side effects may occur.


Excessive activity of the thyroid that can affect female ovulation and fertility.


Estrogen levels that are lower than normal.


The production of sperm in low numbers.


The part of the brain that secretes GnRH, which enables the release of LH and FSH to stimulate the ovaries and testes.


The thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to a slow metabolism and fatigue, and impaired fertility.


The partial or total removal of the uterus, ovaries and /or fallopian tubes that can lead to sterility.

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

An X-ray examination using a special dye injected into the uterus to observe the uterus and fallopian tubes.


A device, similar to a laparoscope, that allows for interior visual exam of the cervix and uterus.

Immature sperm (germinal cell)

Sperm that are not fully mature and that have low motility.


After fertilization, the egg starts to embed into the uterine lining where it starts to develop as an embryo.


A situation where a man cannot have erections or ejaculate semen.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

Meaning in glass, this assisted reproductive technology (ART) process involves ovulation induction, extraction of the egg from the ovary, and combining the egg with the sperm outside of the female’s body for fertilization.


For women under 35, this means the inability to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term when trying to conceive one year, and for women over 35, infertility is the inability to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term when trying to conceive for six months.


Fertility medications (usually ovulation induction medications) that are injected.

Inner cell mass

A clump of cells growing within and to one side of the blastocyst from which the embryo develops.


The introduction of sperm into a woman’s body for fertilization.

Intra Uterine insemination (IUI)

Sperm are collected and washed to prepare for insemination directly into a woman’s uterus with a catheter and syringe.

Intracervical Insemination (ICI)

Artificial insemination procedure where sperm are injected directly into a woman’s cervix with a syringe and catheter.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

The injection of a single sperm into an egg, usually used with IVF.


A test analyzing chromosomes for potential genetic abnormalities.

Klinefelter's Syndrome

When a male is born with two X and one Y chromosome, causing possible feminine qualities and infertility.


A telescopic instrument that is inserted into a small incision in the abdomen, for viewing of the pelvis, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.


Surgery that opens the abdominal area to treat a variety of issues, including removing adhesions and repairing tubes.


The removal of a fertilised egg or cleavage stage embryo from the womb before implantation by washing out the uterine cavity.

Leydig cell

Cell in the testes that produces male hormones, including testosterone, and is stimulated by LH from the pituitary gland.

LH surge

A surge of LH followed by the release of an egg from a follicle in the ovaries.

Luteal phase defect (or deficiency) (LPD)

Often due to a short luteal phase, the uterus will not be able to sustain a pregnancy due to abnormal hormone levels. May cause recurrent miscarriages.

Luteal phase

The luteal phase is a stage of the menstrual cycle. It occurs after ovulation and before the start of menstruation. During this phase, the lining of the uterus normally becomes thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

A hormone that stimulates the ovary to release an egg during ovulation and also stimulates testosterone production in males.

Male factor infertility

Infertility due to male health or anatomic reasons.


Very heavy menstrual flow, or menses that lasts longer than normal.


Monthly cycle of bleeding where the uterine lining is shed after a woman fails to achieve pregnancy (also called menses, menstrual cycle).


Appearance of bleeding or spotting in the middle of the menstrual cycle.


Procedure where a microscopic single sperm is injected into an egg, as with ICSI.


Spontaneous expulsion of the embryo or fetus from the uterus in the first 20 weeks gestation, which occurs in about 20% of pregnancies (also called abortion).


Structures present in human cells which are often referred to as the cell’s ‘batteries’ because they generate the majority of a cell’s energy supply. They contain a small amount of DNA and are inherited from the mother.


Occurring around ovulation, some women notice this as a slight pain or cramping low in the abdomen.


The size and shape of sperm.


The ball of cells which forms at about 3 - 4 days after insemination of the egg, resulting from the cleavage of the fertilized ovum.


The ability of sperm to move by themselves.


The surgical removal of benign fibroid tumors from the uterine wall.

Natural cycle

Treatment cycle in which no drugs are given to stimulate egg production.


The part of a cell which contains the genetic material DNA.


Menstrual periods occurring less frequently than normal.


Low levels of sperm in the semen.

Oocyte retrieval

When a needle is inserted into the ovarian follicles to extract eggs during surgery.


The female sex cell that is produced in the ovaries (also see egg, ovum, gamete).

Ovarian cyst

A fluid-filled sac in the ovary that can vary in size may or may not be problematic, but can sometimes cause pain and can be an indicator of PCOS if there are multiple cysts.

Ovarian failure

A situation where levels of FSH in the blood are elevated, usually indicating a lack of ovarian response to FSH stimulation.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

A serious complication following stimulation of the ovaries with gonadotrophin drugs.


Female sex glands that produce eggs (ova) and female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).

Ovulation induction

Use of a group of medications (fertility drugs) to improve hormone levels and/or boost the development and release of eggs during fertility treatment.


When the ovary releases a mature egg in the middle of the menstrual cycle, often around day 14.

Ovulatory failure (anovulation)

Lack of ovulation during the menstrual cycle (no egg is released for fertilization).

Ovulatory phase

Occurs in the middle of the menstrual cycle the release of the egg for fertilization.

Female sex cell that contains genetic material for the embryo (also called egg, gamete).

Pap test

A test to detect abnormal (cancerous) cells in the cervix.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Infection within the pelvis that can cause fever, pain and possibly infertility and may lead to the development of scar tissue and/or tubal problems.

Pituitary gland

A gland located at the base of the brain known as the master gland of the endocrine system that releases and regulates the body’s hormones.


This organ connects the fetus to the uterus via the umbilical cord, providing nutrients and oxygen for development.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS or Stein Leventhal Syndrome)

A hormonal disturbance linked to infrequent ovulation that may include symptoms like menstrual problems, weight gain, pain, infertility, and hair/skin problems.

Post coital test (PCT)

A test done several hours after intercourse to look for the presence of healthy, active sperm, fertile-quality cervical mucus, and healthy sperm-mucus interaction.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)

In conjunction with IVF, where a recognised practitioner removes one or two cells from an embryo, for those cells to be tested for specific genetic disorders/characteristics before embryo transfer takes place.

Premature ovarian failure (POF)

A syndrome associated with high levels of gonadotropins and low levels of estrogen, often causing menstruation to end before age 40.

Primary infertility

Infertility in couples that have never had a successful pregnancy or in couples that have gotten pregnant but never had a live birth.


The corpus luteum in the ovary produces this hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy after ovulation.


A hormone that helps women to make breastmilk after childbirth and in women that are not nursing, abnormal levels can hinder ovulation, possibly causing infertility.

Pronuclear stage tubal transfer (PROST) (ZIFT)

An assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure where eggs are retrieved, fertilized by sperm in vitro and then transferred to the woman’s body before the cells divide.


These hormone-like substances are found in both men and women while sperm washing techniques remove prostaglandins during artificial insemination to reduce cramping in the woman’s body.

Prostate gland

A male gland circling the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Refers to two or more failed pregnancies, especially if they happen successively.

Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE)

Doctors trained in obstetrics and gynecology that are board certified in reproductive endocrinology.

Retrograde Ejaculation

When the semen is ejaculated, it travels backwards into the bladder due to a problem with the sphincter muscle.

Rh Factor

A protein found in red blood cells in most people, yet if the fetus has Rh factor in the blood but the mother does not, the mother’s body will produce antibodies that start to attack red blood cells in the fetus.

Round Spermatid Nucleus Injection (ROSNI)

An experimental fertilization technique in which immature sperm cells are removed from the testicle and the genetic material is injected into an egg.


The removal of the fallopian tubes which is done during surgery.


The sac of skin on the external genitalia of the male that contains the testes.

Secondary infertility

Infertility that occurs after a couple have had a successful pregnancy and/or live birth.

Secondary sex characteristics

Physical characteristics such as breasts, facial and body hair, voice changes and other characteristics that appear during puberty, distinguishing males from females.

Semen analysis

Examination of semen under a microscope to assess sperm count, movement (motility), and the size and shape of the sperm.


A liquid medium that carries the male’s sperm outside of his body and protects and nourishes the sperm.

Singleton Birth

The birth of a single baby at a live birth event.

Sonogram (ultrasound)

These are high-frequency sound waves used to monitor pregnancy and observe images of internal body parts to detect any abnormalities.

Sperm Bank

At a sperm bank, sperm are kept frozen in liquid nitrate to be thawed later for use in insemination and ART procedures.

Sperm maturation

Sperm take 90 days to fully mature as they grow and attain better motility for fertilization.

Sperm morphology

Refers to the size and shape of the sperm and abnormal sperm morphology can indicate male factor infertility.

Sperm motility

Movement of sperm, and good motility is a sign of male fertility.

Sperm penetration assay (SPA)

A test usually done before IVF where a man’s sperm are mixed with hamster eggs to see how many sperm penetrate the egg (also called hamster test).

Sperm penetration

Refers to the ability of a sperm to penetrate an egg during fertilization.

Sperm wash

Washing of sperm, a procedure done for artificial insemination, removes toxic chemicals, reducing cramping and allergic reactions in females after artificial insemination.


Male sex cell carried in semen that holds genetic information from the male (also called gamete).


A condition where an individual is completely unable to conceive.


The loss of a fetus between 20 weeks gestation and birth.

Stimulated cycle

A treatment cycle in which stimulation drugs are used to produce more eggs than usual in the woman's monthly cycle.


The use of fertility drugs to stimulate a woman to release multiple eggs (also called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation or COH).


The process of a woman carrying a baby for another person. Full surrogacy involves the implantation of an embryo created using either the eggs and sperm of the intended parents, a donated egg fertilised with sperm from the intended father or an embryo created using donor eggs and sperm. Partial surrogacy involves sperm from the intended father and an egg from the surrogate.

Surrogate mother

A woman who gets pregnant and gives birth for a couple who are infertile.


Pair of male reproductive glands that produce testosterone and sperm.

Testicular/epididymal sperm aspiration (TESA)

Sperm are extracted from the testis or epididymis with a needle.


A male sex hormone necessary for the development of male secondary sex characteristics, sex drive and sperm development.

TET (tubal embryo transfer)

A procedure that occurs after cell division of a fertilized egg when the egg is then placed directly into the fallopian tubes.


A syndrome reflecting the presence of three chromosomes of one type instead of the normal human chromosome number of two. An example is Trisomy 21 resulting in Down's syndrome.

Tubal Ligation

A permanent form of female birth control where the fallopian tubes are cut or tied, making the woman sterile.

Turner's syndrome

A condition where a female has one X-chromosome and no Y-chromosomes, resulting in limited height, underdeveloped ovaries, lack of ovulation and infertility.


High-frequency sound waves used to monitor pregnancy and observe images of internal body parts to detect any abnormalities (also called sonogram).

Unexplained Infertility

When no reason or cause can be found for a couple’s infertility problems.

Unicornuate uterus

Uterine abnormality characterized by a smaller size and a single horn shape in the uterus that can cause discomfort and infertility.

Unstimulated cycle

No drugs are given to stimulate egg production. Also known as a natural cycle.


The tube that carries urine outside of the body in males and females, and in males this tube also carries semen outside of the body.


A doctor who specializes in urinary and urogenital medicine.

Uterine tube

One of two tubes connecting the ovaries to the uterus through which the egg is released during ovulation, where it waits to be fertilized (also called fallopian tube).


A muscular organ that contains, protects and nourishes the embryo and fetus during pregnancy (also called womb).

Vaginal ultrasound

Placing a probe into the vagina and using sound waves to view the follicles, ovaries, eggs, fetus, and other internal organs.


Inflammation of the vagina caused by a fungal or bacterial infection and a condition that may cause irritation and discharge.


Varicose veins found in the scrotum that cause an abnormal flow of blood in the male genitalia and can sometimes lead to male infertility.

Vas Deferens

Pair of tubes which connect the epididymis to the urethra and transport sperm during ejaculation.

Vasectomy Reversal

A surgical procedure to reconnect the vas deferens after a vasectomy that restores fertility in many cases.


A permanent form of male birth control where the vas deferens is blocked.

Venereal disease

Sexually transmitted infections including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and others that can cause illness and infertility.


The process of gamete or embryo storage (cryopreservation) that avoids ice crystal formation by the use of high cooling rates and a high concentration of cryoprotectant.

Zona Pellucida

The thick transparent membrane surrounding an ovum before implantation.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

An ART procedure where a fertilized egg is transferred into the fallopian tube one day after fertilization.

Appendix 4 – Glossary

Endocrine disruptor – Chemicals that at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone system) in mammals. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Hormone disruptors can derail any system in the body controlled by hormones.

Flutamide – Non-steroidal anti-androgen.

Germ cell – An embryonic cell with the potential of developing into a gamete. Otherwise known as a gonocyte.

Glucocorticoid – Any group of corticosteroids (e.g. Hydrocortisone) which are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and have anti-inflammatory activity

Gubernaculum – A fetal ligament that passes through the anterior abdominal wall and connects the inferior pole of each gonad with primordial of the scrotum in men and labia majora in women

Hyperplasia – Abnormal increase in the number of normal cells in normal arrangement in an organ or tissue, which increases its volume

Hypospadias – A congenital condition in males in which the opening of the urethra is on the underside of the penis

Leydig Cell – Found adjacent to the seminiferous tubules in the testicle and produce testosterone in the presence of luteinizing hormone

Low Sperm Count – Also known as oligospermia. WHO sperm criteria <20 million sperm/ml

Leydig Cell – Found adjacent to the seminiferous tubules in the testicle and produce testosterone in the presence of luteinizing hormone

Masculinization – The processes involved in making a fetus undergo male development

Murine – Relating to or affecting mice or related rodents

Phenotype – The set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment

Sertoli Cell – A somatic cell in which spermatids develop in the tubules of the testes

Wild type – The typical form of an organism, strain, gene or characteristic as it occurs in nature, as distinguished from mutant forms that may result from selective breeding


Proclamation of Tehran Edit

In 1945, the United Nations Charter included the obligation "to promote. universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without discrimination as to race, sex, language, or religion". However, the Charter did not define these rights. Three years later, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first international legal document to delineate human rights the UDHR does not mention reproductive rights. Reproductive rights began to appear as a subset of human rights in the 1968 Proclamation of Tehran, which states: "Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children". [8]

This right was affirmed by the UN General Assembly in the 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development which states "The family as a basic unit of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, particularly children and youth, should be assisted and protected so that it may fully assume its responsibilities within the community. Parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children." [6] [13] The 1975 UN International Women's Year Conference echoed the Proclamation of Tehran. [14]

Cairo Programme of Action Edit

The twenty-year "Cairo Programme of Action" was adopted in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. The non-binding Programme of Action asserted that governments have a responsibility to meet individuals' reproductive needs, rather than demographic targets. It recommended that family planning services be provided in the context of other reproductive health services, including services for healthy and safe childbirth, care for sexually transmitted infections, and post-abortion care. The ICPD also addressed issues such as violence against women, sex trafficking, and adolescent health. [15] The Cairo Program is the first international policy document to define reproductive health, [15] stating: [1]

Reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed [about] and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant [para. 72].

Unlike previous population conferences, a wide range of interests from grassroots to government level were represented in Cairo. 179 nations attended the ICPD and overall eleven thousand representatives from governments, NGOs, international agencies and citizen activists participated. [15] The ICPD did not address the far-reaching implications of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 1999, recommendations at the ICPD+5 were expanded to include commitment to AIDS education, research, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission, as well as to the development of vaccines and microbicides. [16]

The Cairo Programme of Action was adopted by 184 UN member states. Nevertheless, many Latin American and Islamic states made formal reservations to the programme, in particular, to its concept of reproductive rights and sexual freedom, to its treatment of abortion, and to its potential incompatibility with Islamic law. [17]

Implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action varies considerably from country to country. In many countries, post-ICPD tensions emerged as the human rights-based approach was implemented. Since the ICPD, many countries have broadened their reproductive health programs and attempted to integrate maternal and child health services with family planning. More attention is paid to adolescent health and the consequences of unsafe abortion. Lara Knudsen observes that the ICPD succeeded in getting feminist language into governments' and population agencies' literature, but in many countries the underlying concepts are not widely put into practice. [16] In two preparatory meetings for the ICPD+10 in Asia and Latin America, the United States, under the George W. Bush Administration, was the only nation opposing the ICPD's Programme of Action. [18]

Beijing Platform Edit

The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in its non-binding Declaration and Platform for Action, supported the Cairo Programme's definition of reproductive health, but established a broader context of reproductive rights: [1]

The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. Equal relationships between women and men in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the integrity of the person, require mutual respect, consent and shared responsibility for sexual behavior and its consequences [para. 96].

The Beijing Platform demarcated twelve interrelated critical areas of the human rights of women that require advocacy. The Platform framed women's reproductive rights as "indivisible, universal and inalienable human rights." [19] The platform for the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women included a section that denounced gender-based violence and included forced sterilization as a human rights violation. [20] However, the international community at large has not confirmed that women have a right to reproductive healthcare and in ensuing years since the 1995 conference, countries have proposed language to weaken reproductive and sexual rights. [21] This conference also referenced for the first time indigenous rights and women’s rights at the same time, combining them into one category needing specific representation. [22] Reproductive rights are highly politicized, making it difficult to enact legislation. [23]

Yogyakarta Principles Edit

The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, proposed by a group of experts in November 2006 [24] but not yet incorporated by States in international law, [25] declares in its Preamble that "the international community has recognized the rights of persons to decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free from coercion, discrimination, and violence." In relation to reproductive health, Principle 9 on "The Right to Treatment with Humanity while in Detention" requires that "States shall. [p]rovide adequate access to medical care and counseling appropriate to the needs of those in custody, recognizing any particular needs of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, including with regard to reproductive health, access to HIV/AIDS information and therapy and access to hormonal or other therapy as well as to gender-reassignment treatments where desired." [26] Nonetheless, African, Caribbean and Islamic Countries, as well as the Russian Federation, have objected to the use of these principles as Human Rights standards. [27]

State abuses Edit

State abuses against reproductive rights have happened both under right-wing and left-wing governments. Such abuses include attempts to forcefully increase the birth rate – one of the most notorious natalist policies of the 20th century was that which occurred in communist Romania in the period of 1967–1990 during communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, who adopted a very aggressive natalist policy which included outlawing abortion and contraception, routine pregnancy tests for women, taxes on childlessness, and legal discrimination against childless people – as well as attempts to decrease the fertility rate – China's one child policy (1978–2015). State mandated forced marriage was also practiced by authoritarian governments as a way to meet population targets: the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia systematically forced people into marriages, in order to increase the population and continue the revolution. [28] Some governments have implemented eugenic policies of forced sterilizations of 'undesirable' population groups. Such policies were carried out against ethnic minorities in Europe and North America in the 20th century, and more recently in Latin America against the Indigenous population in the 1990s in Peru, President Alberto Fujimori (in office from 1990 to 2000) has been accused of genocide and crimes against humanity as a result of a sterilization program put in place by his administration targeting indigenous people (mainly the Quechuas and the Aymaras). [29]

The Istanbul convention, the first legally binding instrument in Europe in the field of violence against women and domestic violence, [30] prohibits forced sterilization and forced abortion: [31]

  • a performing an abortion on a woman without her prior and informed consent
  • b performing surgery which has the purpose or effect of terminating a woman’s capacity to naturally reproduce without her prior and informed consent or understanding of the procedure

Human rights have been used as a framework to analyze and gauge abuses, especially for coercive or oppressive governmental policies. The framing of reproductive (human) rights and population control programs are split along race and class lines, with white, western women predominately focused on abortion access (especially during the second wave feminism of the 1970-1980s), silencing women of color in the Global South or marginalized women in the Global North (black and indigenous women, prisoners, welfare recipients) who were subjected to forced sterilization or contraceptive usage campaigns. [32] The hemisphere divide has also been framed as Global North feminists advocating for women’s bodily autonomy and political rights, while Global South women advocate for basic needs through poverty reduction and equality in the economy. [33]

This divide between first world versus third world women established as feminists focused on women’s issues (from the first world largely promoting sexual liberation) versus women focused on political issues (from the third world often opposing dictatorships and policies). [34] In Latin America, this is complicated as feminists tend to align with first world ideals of feminism (sexual/reproductive rights, violence against women, domestic violence) and reject religious institutions such as the Catholic Church and Evangelicals, which attempt to control women’s reproduction. On the other side, human rights advocates are often aligned with religious institutions that are specifically combating political violence, instead of focusing on issues of individual bodily autonomy. [35]

The debate regarding whether women should have complete autonomous control over their bodies has been espoused by the United Nations and individual countries, but many of those same countries fail to implement these human rights for their female citizens. This shortfall may be partly due to the delay of including women-specific issues in the human rights framework. [36] However, multiple human rights documents and declarations specifically proclaim reproductive rights of women, including the ability to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions regarding family planning, including: the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948), [37] The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), [38] the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, [39] and the new Sustainable Development Goals, [40] which are focused on integrating universal reproductive healthcare access into national family planning programs. [41] Unfortunately, the 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, did not address indigenous women’s reproductive or maternal healthcare rights or access. [42]

Since most existing legally binding international human rights instruments do not explicitly mention sexual and reproductive rights, a broad coalition of NGOs, civil servants, and experts working in international organizations have been promoting a reinterpretation of those instruments to link the realization of the already internationally recognized human rights with the realization of reproductive rights. [43] An example of this linkage is provided by the 1994 Cairo Programme of Action: [44]

Reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other relevant United Nations consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence as expressed in human rights documents. In the exercise of this right, they should take into account the needs of their living and future children and their responsibilities towards the community.

Similarly, Amnesty International has argued that the realisation of reproductive rights is linked with the realisation of a series of recognised human rights, including the right to health, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to privacy, and the right not to be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. [3]

Sexual and reproductive health and rights encompass efforts to eliminate preventable maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, to ensure quality sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptive services, and to address sexually transmitted infections (STI) and cervical cancer, violence against women and girls, and sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health is essential not only to achieve sustainable development but also to ensure that this new framework speaks to the needs and aspirations of people around the world and leads to realisation of their health and human rights.

However, not all states have accepted the inclusion of reproductive rights in the body of internationally recognized human rights. At the Cairo Conference, several states made formal reservations either to the concept of reproductive rights or to its specific content. Ecuador, for instance, stated that: [17]

With regard to the Programme of Action of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and laws of Ecuador and the norms of international law, the delegation of Ecuador reaffirms, inter alia, the following principles embodied in its Constitution: the inviolability of life, the protection of children from the moment of conception, freedom of conscience and religion, the protection of the family as the fundamental unit of society, responsible paternity, the right of parents to bring up their children and the formulation of population and development plans by the Government in accordance with the principles of respect for sovereignty. Accordingly, the delegation of Ecuador enters a reservation with respect to all terms such as "regulation of fertility", "interruption of pregnancy", "reproductive health", "reproductive rights" and "unwanted children", which in one way or another, within the context of the Programme of Action, could involve abortion.

Similar reservations were made by Argentina, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Malta, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and the Holy See. Islamic Countries, such as Brunei, Djibouti, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen made broad reservations against any element of the programme that could be interpreted as contrary to the Sharia. Guatemala even questioned whether the conference could legally proclaim new human rights. [46]

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) advocate for reproductive rights with a primary emphasis on women's rights. In this respect the UN and WHO focus on a range of issues from access to family planning services, sex education, menopause, and the reduction of obstetric fistula, to the relationship between reproductive health and economic status.

The reproductive rights of women are advanced in the context of the right to freedom from discrimination and the social and economic status of women. The group Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) explained the link in the following statement: [6]

Control over reproduction is a basic need and a basic right for all women. Linked as it is to women's health and social status, as well as the powerful social structures of religion, state control and administrative inertia, and private profit, it is from the perspective of poor women that this right can best be understood and affirmed. Women know that childbearing is a social, not a purely personal, phenomenon nor do we deny that world population trends are likely to exert considerable pressure on resources and institutions by the end of this century. But our bodies have become a pawn in the struggles among states, religions, male heads of households, and private corporations. Programs that do not take the interests of women into account are unlikely to succeed.

Women's reproductive rights have long retained key issue status in the debate on overpopulation. [12]

"The only ray of hope I can see – and it's not much – is that wherever women are put in control of their lives, both politically and socially where medical facilities allow them to deal with birth control and where their husbands allow them to make those decisions, birth rate falls. Women don't want to have 12 kids of whom nine will die." David Attenborough [47]

According to OHCHR: "Women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture, the right to health, the right to privacy, the right to education, and the prohibition of discrimination". [48]

Attempts have been made to analyse the socioeconomic conditions that affect the realisation of a woman's reproductive rights. The term reproductive justice has been used to describe these broader social and economic issues. Proponents of reproductive justice argue that while the right to legalized abortion [49] and contraception applies to everyone, these choices are only meaningful to those with resources, and that there is a growing gap between access and affordability. [ citation needed ] [50]

Men's reproductive rights have been claimed by various organizations, both for issues of reproductive health, and other rights related to sexual reproduction.

Three international issues in men's reproductive health are sexually transmitted diseases, cancer, and exposure to toxins. [51]

Recently men's reproductive right with regards to paternity have become subject of debate in the U.S. The term "male abortion" was coined by Melanie McCulley, a South Carolina attorney, in a 1998 article. The theory begins with the premise that when a woman becomes pregnant she has the option of abortion, adoption, or parenthood. A man, however, has none of those options, but will still be affected by the woman's decision. It argues, in the context of legally recognized gender equality, that in the earliest stages of pregnancy the putative (alleged) father should have the right to relinquish all future parental rights and financial responsibility, leaving the informed mother with the same three options. [52] This concept has been supported by a former president of the feminist organization National Organization for Women, attorney Karen DeCrow. [53] The feminist argument for male reproductive choice contends that the uneven ability to choose experienced by men and women in regards to parenthood is evidence of a state-enforced coercion favoring traditional sex roles. [54]

In 2006, the National Center for Men brought a case in the US, Dubay v. Wells (dubbed by some "Roe v. Wade for men"), that argued that in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, when an unmarried woman informs a man that she is pregnant by him, he should have an opportunity to give up all paternity rights and responsibilities. Supporters argue that this would allow the woman time to make an informed decision and give men the same reproductive rights as women. [55] [56] In its dismissal of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals (Sixth Circuit) stated that "the Fourteenth Amendment does not deny to [the] State the power to treat different classes of persons in different ways." [57]

The opportunity to give men the right for a Paper Abortion is heavily discussed. Sperm theft is another related issue.

Intersex, in humans and other animals, is a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female. Such variation may involve genital ambiguity, and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-male and XX-female. [58] [59] Intersex persons are often subjected to involuntary "sex normalizing" surgical and hormonal treatments in infancy and childhood, often also including sterilization. [60] [61] [62] [63] [64]

UN agencies have begun to take note. On 1 February 2013, Juan E Mendés, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, issued a statement condemning non-consensual surgical intervention on intersex people. His report stated, "Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, "in an attempt to fix their sex", leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering". [65] In May 2014, the World Health Organization issued a joint statement on Eliminating forced, coercive and otherwise involuntary sterilization, An interagency statement with the OHCHR, UN Women, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF. The report references the involuntary surgical "sex-normalising or other procedures" on "intersex persons". It questions the medical necessity of such treatments, patients' ability to consent, and a weak evidence base. [66] The report recommends a range of guiding principles to prevent compulsory sterilization in medical treatment, including ensuring patient autonomy in decision-making, ensuring non-discrimination, accountability and access to remedies. [67]

Minors Edit

In many jurisdictions minors require parental consent or parental notification in order to access various reproductive services, such as contraception, abortion, gynecological consultations, testing for STDs etc. The requirement that minors have parental consent/notification for testing for HIV/AIDS is especially controversial, particularly in areas where the disease is endemic, and it is a sensitive subject. [68] [69] [70] Balancing minors' rights versus parental rights is considered an ethical problem in medicine and law, and there have been many court cases on this issue in the US. [71] An important concept recognized since 1989 by the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that of the evolving capacities of a minor, namely that minors should, in accordance with their maturity and level of understanding, be involved in decisions that affect them. [72]

Youth are often denied equal access to reproductive health services because health workers view adolescent sexual activity as unacceptable, [73] or see sex education as the responsibility of parents. Providers of reproductive health have little accountability to youth clients, a primary factor in denying youth access to reproductive health care. [73] In many countries, regardless of legislation, minors are denied even the most basic reproductive care, if they are not accompanied by parents: in India, for instance, in 2017, a 17-year-old girl who was rejected by her family due to her pregnancy, was also rejected by hospitals and gave birth in the street. [74] In recent years the lack of reproductive rights for adolescents has been a concern of international organizations, such as UNFPA. [75]

Mandatory involvement of parents in cases where the minor has sufficient maturity to understand their situation is considered by health organization as a violation of minor's rights and detrimental to their health. The World Health Organization has criticized parental consent/notification laws: [76]

Discrimination in health care settings takes many forms and is often manifested when an individual or group is denied access to health care services that are otherwise available to others. It can also occur through denial of services that are only needed by certain groups, such as women. Examples include specific individuals or groups being subjected to physical and verbal abuse or violence involuntary treatment breaches of confidentiality and/or denial of autonomous decision-making, such as the requirement of consent to treatment by parents, spouses or guardians and lack of free and informed consent. . Laws and policies must respect the principles of autonomy in health care decision-making guarantee free and informed consent, privacy and confidentiality prohibit mandatory HIV testing prohibit screening procedures that are not of benefit to the individual or the public and ban involuntary treatment and mandatory third-party authorization and notification requirements.

According to UNICEF: "When dealing with sexual and reproductive health, the obligation to inform parents and obtain their consent becomes a significant barrier with consequences for adolescents’ lives and for public health in general." [77] One specific issue which is seen as a form of hypocrisy of legislators is that of having a higher age of medical consent for the purpose of reproductive and sexual health than the age of sexual consent – in such cases the law allows youth to engage in sexual activity, but does not allow them to consent to medical procedures that may arise from being sexually active UNICEF states that "On sexual and reproductive health matters, the minimum age of medical consent should never be higher than the age of sexual consent." [77]

Africa Edit

Many unintended pregnancies stem from traditional contraceptive methods or no contraceptive measures. [78]

Youth sexual education in Uganda is relatively low. Comprehensive sex education is not generally taught in schools even if it was, the majority of young people do not stay in school after the age of fifteen, so information would be limited regardless. [79]

Africa experiences high rates of unintended pregnancy, along with high rates of HIV/AIDS. Young women aged 15–24 are eight times more likely to have HIV/AIDS than young men. Sub-Saharan Africa is the world region most affected by HIV/AIDS, with approximately 25 million people living with HIV in 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for two-thirds of the global total of new HIV infections. [80]

Attempted abortions and unsafe abortions are a risk for youth in Africa. On average, there are 2.4 million unsafe abortions in East Africa, 1.8 million in Western Africa, over 900,000 in Middle Africa, and over 100,000 in Southern Africa each year. [78]

In Uganda, abortion is illegal except to save the mother's life. However, 78% of teenagers report knowing someone who has had an abortion and the police do not always prosecute everyone who has an abortion. An estimated 22% of all maternal deaths in the area stem from illegal, unsafe abortions. [79]

European Union Edit

Over 85% of European women (all ages) have used some form of birth control in their lives. [81] Europeans as an aggregate report using the pill and condoms as the most commonly used contraceptives. [81]

Sweden has the highest percentage of lifetime contraceptive use, with 96% of its inhabitants claiming to have used birth control at some point in their life. [81] Sweden also has a high self-reported rate of postcoital pill use. [81] A 2007 anonymous survey of Swedish 18-year-olds showed that three out of four youth were sexually active, with 5% reporting having had an abortion and 4% reporting the contraction of an STI. [82]

In the European Union, reproductive rights are protected through the European Convention on Human Rights and its jurisprudence, as well as the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention). [83] However, these rights are denied or restricted by the laws, policies and practices of member states. [84] In fact, some countries criminalize medical staff, have stricter regulations than the international norm or exclude legal abortion and contraception from public health insurance. [83] A study conducted by Policy Departments, at the request of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, recommends the EU to strengthen the legal framework on equal access to sexual and reproductive health goods and services. [83]

Latin America Edit

Latin America has come to international attention due to its harsh anti-abortion laws. Latin America is home to some of the few countries of the world with a complete ban on abortion, without an exception for saving maternal life. [85] In some of these countries, particularity in Central America, the enforcement of such laws is very aggressive: El Salvador and Nicaragua have drawn international attention for strong enforcement of their complete bans on abortion. In 2017, Chile relaxed its total ban, allowing abortion to be performed when the woman’s life is in danger, when a fetus is unviable, or in cases of rape. [86]

In Ecuador, education and class play a large role in the definition of which young women become pregnant and which do not – 50% of young women who are illiterate get pregnant, compared to 11% of girls with secondary education. The same is true for poorer individuals – 28% become impregnated while only 11% of young women in wealthier households do. Furthermore, access to reproductive rights, including contraceptives, are limited, due to age and the perception of female morality. Health care providers often discuss contraception theoretically, not as a device to be used on a regular basis. Decisions concerning sexual activity often involve secrecy and taboos, as well as a lack of access to accurate information. Even more telling, young women have much easier access to maternal healthcare than they do to contraceptive help, which helps explain high pregnancy rates in the region. [87]

Rates of adolescent pregnancy in Latin America number over a million each year. [87]

United States Edit

Among sexually experienced teenagers, 78% of teenage females and 85% of teenage males used contraception the first time they had sex 86% and 93% of these same females and males, respectively, reported using contraception the last time they had sex. [88] The male condom is the most commonly used method during first sex, although 54% of young women in the United States rely upon the pill. [88]

Young people in the U.S. are no more sexually active than individuals in other developed countries, but they are significantly less knowledgeable about contraception and safe sex practices. [79] As of 2006, only twenty states required sex education in schools – of these, only ten required information about contraception. [79] On the whole, less than 10% of American students receive sex education that includes topical coverage of abortion, homosexuality, relationships, pregnancy, and STI prevention. [79] Abstinence-only education was used throughout much of the United States in the 1990s and early 2000s. [79] Based upon the moral principle that sex outside of marriage is unacceptable, the programs often misled students about their rights to have sex, the consequences, and prevention of pregnancy and STIs. [79]

Abortion in the United States is legal since the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade which decriminalised abortion nationwide in 1973, and established a minimal period during which abortion is legal (with more or fewer restrictions throughout the pregnancy). That basic framework, modified in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), remains nominally in place, although the effective availability of abortion varies significantly from state to state, as many counties have no abortion providers. [89] Planned Parenthood v. Casey held that a law cannot place legal restrictions imposing an undue burden for "the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus." [90] Abortion is a controversial political issue, and regular attempts to restrict it occur in most states. One such case, originating in Texas, led to the Supreme Court case of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (2016) in which several Texas restrictions were struck down. [91]

One of the reasons why reproductive rights are poor in many places, is that the vast majority of the population does not know what the law is. Not only are ordinary people uninformed, but so are medical doctors. A study in Brazil on medical doctors found considerable ignorance and misunderstanding of the law on abortion (which is severely restricted, but not completely illegal). [92] In Ghana, abortion, while restricted, is permitted on several grounds, but only 3% of pregnant women and 6% of those seeking an abortion were aware of the legal status of abortion. [93] In Nepal, abortion was legalized in 2002, but a study in 2009 found that only half of women knew that abortion was legalized. [94] Many people also do not understand the laws on sexual violence: in Hungary, where marital rape was made illegal in 1997, in a study in 2006, 62% of people did not know that marital rape was a crime. [95] The United Nations Development Programme states that, in order to advance gender justice, "Women must know their rights and be able to access legal systems", [96] and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women states at Art. 4 (d) [. ] "States should also inform women of their rights in seeking redress through such mechanisms". [97]

Addressing issues of gender-based violence is crucial for attaining reproductive rights. The United Nations Population Fund refers to "Equality and equity for men and women, to enable individuals to make free and informed choices in all spheres of life, free from discrimination based on gender" and "Sexual and reproductive security, including freedom from sexual violence and coercion, and the right to privacy," as part of achieving reproductive rights, [98] and states that the right to liberty and security of the person which is fundamental to reproductive rights obliges states to: [99]

  • Take measures to prevent, punish and eradicate all forms of gender-based violence
  • Eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting

Gender and Reproductive Rights (GRR) aims to promote and protect human rights and gender equality as they relate to sexual and reproductive health by developing strategies and mechanisms for promoting gender equity and equality and human rights in the Departments global and national activities, as well as within the functioning and priority-setting of the Department itself.

Amnesty International writes that: [101]

Violence against women violates women's rights to life, physical and mental integrity, to the highest attainable standard of health, to freedom from torture and it violates their sexual and reproductive rights.

One key issue for achieving reproductive rights is criminalization of sexual violence. If a woman is not protected from forced sexual intercourse, she is not protected from forced pregnancy, namely pregnancy from rape. In order for a woman to be able to have reproductive rights, she must have the right to choose with whom and when to reproduce and first of all, decide whether, when, and under what circumstances to be sexually active. [102] In many countries, these rights of women are not respected, because women do not have a choice in regard to their partner, with forced marriage and child marriage being common in parts of the world and neither do they have any rights in regard to sexual activity, as many countries do not allow women to refuse to engage in sexual intercourse when they do not want to (because marital rape is not criminalized in those countries) or to engage in consensual sexual intercourse if they want to (because sex outside marriage is illegal in those countries). In addition to legal barriers, there are also social barriers, because in many countries a complete sexual subordination of a woman to her husband is expected (for instance, in one survey 74% of women in Mali said that a husband is justified to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him [103] ), while sexual/romantic relations disapproved by family members, or generally sex outside marriage, can result in serious violence, such as honor killings. [104]

According to the CDC, "HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. No effective cure exists for HIV. But with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled." [106] HIV amelioration is an important aspect of reproductive rights because the virus can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or birth, or via breast milk.

The WHO states that: "All women, including those with HIV, have the right "to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights"". [107] The reproductive rights of people living with HIV, and their health, are very important. The link between HIV and reproductive rights exists in regard to four main issues: [107]

  • prevention of unwanted pregnancy
  • help to plan wanted pregnancy
  • healthcare during and after pregnancy
  • access to abortion services

The WHO states that the reproductive rights and health of girls in child marriages are negatively affected. [108] The UNPF calls child marriage a "human rights violation" and states that in developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18, and one in nine is married under age 15. [109] A forced marriage is a marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will. The Istanbul convention, the first legally binding instrument in Europe in the field of violence against women and domestic violence, [110] requires countries which ratify it to prohibit forced marriage (Article 37) and to ensure that forced marriages can be easily voided without further victimization (Article 32). [111]

Sexual violence in armed conflict is sexual violence committed by combatants during armed conflict, war, or military occupation often as spoils of war but sometimes, particularly in ethnic conflict, the phenomenon has broader sociological motives. It often includes gang rape. Rape is often used as a tactic of war and a threat to international security. [112] Sexual violence in armed conflict is a violation of reproductive rights, and often leads to forced pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Such sexual violations affect mostly women and girls, [113] but rape of men can also occur, such as in Democratic Republic of the Congo. [114] [115]

Maternal death is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes." [117] It is estimated that in 2015, about 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth, and 99% of such deaths occur in developing countries. [118]

Birth control Edit

Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. [119] Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth control only became available in the 20th century. [120] Planning, making available, and using birth control is called family planning. [121] [122] Some cultures limit or discourage access to birth control because they consider it to be morally, religiously, or politically undesirable. [120]

All birth control methods meet opposition, especially religious opposition, in some parts of the world. Opposition does not only target modern methods, but also 'traditional' ones for example, the Quiverfull movement, a conservative Christian ideology, encourages the maximization of procreation, and opposes all forms of birth control, including natural family planning. [123]

Abortion Edit

According to a study by WHO and the Guttmacher Institute worldwide, 25 million unsafe abortions (45% of all abortions) occurred every year between 2010 and 2014. 97% of unsafe abortions occur in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. By contrast, most abortions that take place in Western and Northern Europe and North America are safe. [124]

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considers the criminalization of abortion a "violations of women's sexual and reproductive health and rights" and a form of "gender-based violence" paragraph 18 of its General recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19 states that: "Violations of women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced pregnancy, criminalisation of abortion, denial or delay of safe abortion and post-abortion care, forced continuation of pregnancy, abuse and mistreatment of women and girls seeking sexual and reproductive health information, goods and services, are forms of gender based violence that, depending on the circumstances, may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." [125] The same General Recommendation also urges countries at paragraph 31 to [. ] "In particular, repeal: a) Provisions that allow, tolerate or condone forms of gender-based violence against women, including [. ] legislation that criminalises abortion." [125]

An article from the World Health Organization calls safe, legal abortion a "fundamental right of women, irrespective of where they live" and unsafe abortion a "silent pandemic". [126] The article states "ending the silent pandemic of unsafe abortion is an urgent public-health and human-rights imperative." It also states "access to safe abortion improves women's health, and vice versa, as documented in Romania during the regime of President Nicolae Ceaușescu" and "legalisation of abortion on request is a necessary but insufficient step toward improving women's health" citing that in some countries, such as India where abortion has been legal for decades, access to competent care remains restricted because of other barriers. WHO's Global Strategy on Reproductive Health, adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2004, noted: "As a preventable cause of maternal mortality and morbidity, unsafe abortion must be dealt with as part of the MDG on improving maternal health and other international development goals and targets." [127] The WHO's Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP), whose research concerns people's sexual and reproductive health and lives, [128] has an overall strategy to combat unsafe abortion that comprises four inter-related activities: [127]

  • to collate, synthesize and generate scientifically sound evidence on unsafe abortion prevalence and practices
  • to develop improved technologies and implement interventions to make abortion safer
  • to translate evidence into norms, tools and guidelines
  • and to assist in the development of programmes and policies that reduce unsafe abortion and improve access to safe abortion and high quality post-abortion care

The UN has estimated in 2017 that repealing anti-abortion laws would save the lives of nearly 50,000 women a year. [129] 209,519 abortions take place in England and Wales alone. [130] Unsafe abortions take place primarily in countries where abortion is illegal, but also occur in countries where it is legal. Despite its legal status, an abortion is de facto hardly optional for women due to most doctors being conscientious objectors. [131] [132] Other reasons include the lack of knowledge that abortions are legal, lower socioeconomic backgrounds and spatial disparities. [133] [134] [ United States-centric ] These practical applications have raised some concern the UN in its 2017 resolution on Intensification of efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls: domestic violence urged states to guarantee access to "safe abortion where such services are permitted by national law". [135] In 2008, Human Rights Watch stated that "In fact, even where abortion is permitted by law, women often have severely limited access to safe abortion services because of lack of proper regulation, health services, or political will" and estimated that "Approximately 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide are attributable to unsafe abortion—between 68,000 and 78,000 deaths annually." [136]

The Maputo Protocol, which was adopted by the African Union in the form of a protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, states at Article 14 (Health and Reproductive Rights) that: "(2). States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to: [. ] c) protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus." [137] The Maputo Protocol is the first international treaty to recognize abortion, under certain conditions, as a woman's human right. [138]

The General comment No. 36 (2018) on article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the right to life, adopted by the Human Rights Committee in 2018, defines, for the first time ever, a human right to abortion – in certain circumstances (however these UN general comments are considered soft law, [139] and, as such, not legally binding).

Although States parties may adopt measures designed to regulate voluntary terminations of pregnancy, such measures must not result in violation of the right to life of a pregnant woman or girl, or her other rights under the Covenant. Thus, restrictions on the ability of women or girls to seek abortion must not, inter alia, jeopardize their lives, subject them to physical or mental pain or suffering which violates article 7, discriminate against them or arbitrarily interfere with their privacy. States parties must provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion where the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, and where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or is not viable. In addition, States parties may not regulate pregnancy or abortion in all other cases in a manner that runs contrary to their duty to ensure that women and girls do not have to undertake unsafe abortions, and they should revise their abortion laws accordingly. For example, they should not take measures such as criminalizing pregnancies by unmarried women or apply criminal sanctions against women and girls undergoing abortion or against medical service providers assisting them in doing so, since taking such measures compel women and girls to resort to unsafe abortion. States parties should not introduce new barriers and should remove existing barriers that deny effective access by women and girls to safe and legal abortion, including barriers caused as a result of the exercise of conscientious objection by individual medical providers. [140]

When negotiating the Cairo Programme of Action at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), the issue was so contentious that delegates eventually decided to omit any recommendation to legalize abortion, instead advising governments to provide proper post-abortion care and to invest in programs that will decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies. [141]

On 18 April 2008 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a group comprising members from 47 European countries, adopted a resolution calling for the decriminalization of abortion within reasonable gestational limits and guaranteed access to safe abortion procedures. The nonbinding resolution was passed on 16 April by a vote of 102 to 69. [142]

During and after the ICPD, some interested parties attempted to interpret the term "reproductive health" in the sense that it implies abortion as a means of family planning or, indeed, a right to abortion. These interpretations, however, do not reflect the consensus reached at the Conference. For the European Union, where legislation on abortion is certainly less restrictive than elsewhere, the Council Presidency has clearly stated that the Council's commitment to promote "reproductive health" did not include the promotion of abortion. [143] Likewise, the European Commission, in response to a question from a Member of the European Parliament, clarified: [144]

The term reproductive health was defined by the United Nations (UN) in 1994 at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. All Member States of the Union endorsed the Programme of Action adopted at Cairo. The Union has never adopted an alternative definition of 'reproductive health' to that given in the Programme of Action, which makes no reference to abortion.

With regard to the U.S., only a few days prior to the Cairo Conference, the head of the U.S. delegation, Vice President Al Gore, had stated for the record: [145]

Let us get a false issue off the table: the US does not seek to establish a new international right to abortion, and we do not believe that abortion should be encouraged as a method of family planning.

Some years later, the position of the U.S. Administration in this debate was reconfirmed by U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Ellen Sauerbrey, when she stated at a meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women that: "nongovernmental organizations are attempting to assert that Beijing in some way creates or contributes to the creation of an internationally recognized fundamental right to abortion". [146] She added: "There is no fundamental right to abortion. And yet it keeps coming up largely driven by NGOs trying to hijack the term and trying to make it into a definition". [147]

Collaborative research from the Institute of Development Studies states that "access to safe abortion is a matter of human rights, democracy and public health, and the denial of such access is a major cause of death and impairment, with significant costs to [international] development". [148] The research highlights the inequities of access to safe abortion both globally and nationally and emphasises the importance of global and national movements for reform to address this. The shift by campaigners of reproductive rights from an issue-based agenda (the right to abortion), to safe, legal abortion not only as a human right, but bound up with democratic and citizenship rights, has been an important way of reframing the abortion debate and reproductive justice agenda. [148]

Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights complicated the question even more through a landmark judgment (case of A. B. and C. v. Ireland), in which it is stated that the denial of abortion for health and/or well-being reasons is an interference with an individuals right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, an interference which in some cases can be justified.


Having another woman bear a child for a couple to raise, usually with the male half of the couple as the genetic father, is referred to in antiquity. For example, the book of Genesis relates the story of Sarah's servant Hagar bearing a child to Abraham for Sarah and Abraham to raise.

Attorney Noel Keane is generally recognized as the creator of the legal idea of surrogate motherhood. However, it was not until he developed an association with physician Warren J. Ringold in the city of Dearborn, Michigan that the idea became feasible. Dr. Ringold agreed to perform all of the artificial inseminations, and the clinic grew rapidly in the early part of 1981. Though Keane and Ringold were widely criticized by some members of the press and politicians, they continued and eventually advocated for the passage of laws that protected the idea of surrogate motherhood. Bill Handel, who is a partner in a Los Angeles, Surrogacy firms, also attempted to have such laws passed in California, but his attempts were struck down in the State Congress. Presently, the idea of surrogate motherhood has gained some societal acceptance and laws protecting the contractual arrangements exist in eight states. [2]

In the United States, the issue of surrogacy was widely publicised in the case of Baby M, in which the surrogate and biological mother of Melissa Stern ("Baby M"), born in 1986, refused to cede custody of Melissa to the couple with whom she had made the surrogacy agreement. The courts of New Jersey eventually awarded custody to Melissa's biological father William Stern and his wife Elizabeth Stern, rather than to the surrogate Mary Beth Whitehead.

11 key infectious disease terms to know

As international travel, climate change and ecological degradation fuel the global spread of infectious disease, having a firm grasp on epidemiological nomenclature is becoming increasingly important.

NPR on Tuesday published a short glossary compiled by science writer Natalie Jacewicz of important terms and definitions to know regarding infectious diseases. Peter Krause, MD, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., also contributed to the piece.

Here are 11 infectious disease terms to know.

1. Animal-human interface: When humans and animals interact after people set up dwellings on land stripped of trees and other flora, but where forest animals remain prevalent. Diseases can be spread from animals to humans in this manner.

2. Emerging disease: A disease that infects a particular regional population for the first time, or a disease that's been present at low levels in a region but then rapidly becomes more prevalent.

3. Epidemic: An increase in the number of cases of a disease in a particular geographic region exceeding the number typically experienced.

4. Index case: The first person infected with a pathogen known to health officials — often referred to as "patient zero."

5. Microbe: A living thing that is invisible to the human eye like bacteria, fungi or viruses.

6. One Health: A phrase that expresses the inherent linkage between the health of humans, animals and the environment.

7. Pandemic: An epidemic spanning many countries, regions or continents. The parameters of this definition are a bit amorphous and largely depend on the opinions of scientists and health officials using the term.

8. Reservoir: An animal, plant or environment in which a disease can subsist for extended periods of time.

9. Spillover: The transmission of disease from one species to another.

10. Vector: A living creature that passes a disease to another living creature.

11. Zoonotic: Any disease that spreads from animals — including insects — to people.

Getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term is not always an easy process. A woman who is facing obstacles conceiving or carrying a pregnancy to term should talk with a fertility specialist about potential fertility treatments.

Let’s look at the top causes of infertility in women. Three main categories for the causes of infertility in women are:

  • Issues with ovulation (oligo-ovulation or anovulation)
  • Structural problems of the reproductive system (fibroids, polyps, Müllerian anomalies(abnormal shape to the uterus), tubal factors)
  • Unexplained infertility, which is the diagnosis for 1 in 5 infertile couples (meaning no definitive cause is identified after initial testing)

Ovulation and Infertility

Ovulation issues may be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome is considered one of the most common hormonal disorders in reproductive-aged women, affecting 1 in 10 women of childbearing age in the U.S. While the exact cause of PCOS is currently unknown, many experts think that genetics may be a factor. Typically, women with polycystic ovary syndrome struggle with infrequent or lack of ovulation and , often, evidence of increased androgen sex hormones such as testosterone (like excessive or male-pattern hair growth and acne). However, some women will have fewer outward signs of the syndrome. While there is no cure for PCOS, lifestyle changes and medications can help patients manage symptoms. A variety of fertility treatments such as ovulation induction medications can help women with PCOS conceive.

Age and Fertility

About one-third of couples in which the woman is over 30 have fertility complications. Time and biology are on your side during your 20s. At this stage, your body is ready for pregnancy. Experts say that the average woman’s fertility peaks during her early 20s, and you have the highest number of quality eggs at this stage.


With endometriosis, the tissue lining the uterus starts to grow in other places like behind the uterus, around or on the fallopian tubes, in the abdomen, in the pelvis, or the ovaries. Individuals with endometriosis may not have any symptoms or experience symptoms of chronic pelvic pain, severe menstrual cramps, painful intercourse or infertility. Endometriosis can make it difficult to get pregnant because the condition can cause blocked fallopian tubes, disrupt implantation, cause inflammation in the pelvis and perhaps impact egg quality. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) endometriosis may be found in 24-50 percent of women experiencing infertility and in more than 20 percent of those who have chronic pelvic pain.

Uterine Abnormalities

Fibroids may interfere with the implantation of the fertilized egg. Fibroids are usually noncancerous masses of muscular tissue and collagen that can develop within the wall of the uterus. Fibroids may be associated with reproductive problems depending on the number of fibroids you have in your uterus and on their size and specific location. Fibroids near the endometrial lining may cause very heavy periods and problems with an embryo implanting or pregnancy complications.

Unexplained Infertility

This can be one of the most frustrating diagnoses for women struggling with infertility, as it does not provide a clear diagnosis. According to the national infertility organization Resolve, about 1 in 5 couples who have a thorough infertility evaluation will be diagnosed with unexplained infertility. Unexplained infertility does not mean that nothing is wrong: it simply means we do not currently have diagnostic testing to identify the patient’s particular problem. Unexplained infertility also does not mean it is an untreatable condition we have many options that successfully address unexplained infertility.

Fertility treatment isn’t about making miracles. It’s about combining the most advanced technology with expertise, science, perseverance and compassionate care. Consult with FSMG to learn more about female infertility.


Language choices regarding genetics topics in the biology classroom, combined with deliberate and nuanced framing of certain ideas, may enable instructors to foster a better sense of belonging among students of various identities who might otherwise feel alienated by the subject matter. Using phrases like “egg parent” and “sperm parent” instead of gendered language for biological parents in coverage of inheritance patterns has the potential to validate people of various gender identities, as does nongendered description of body parts. Nonstigmatizing terminology regarding genetic differences as they relate to disability may validate and include disabled students. Counteracting pseudoscientific racism through acknowledgment of the history of eugenics and careful coverage of population genetics and the basis of complex traits may mitigate aspects of race-based stereotype threat in the classroom. Setting an explicit tone of inclusion is likely to nudge other students planning to enter the biomedicine workforce to develop cultural competence and a more respectful approach toward human differences. Furthermore, students aiming for a wide range of other career paths, such as high school teaching, may similarly carry forward a broadened critical consciousness that will influence civic conversations and future generations. Instructors of genetics-related topics can thus promote topic-specific inclusive pedagogy.

Watch the video: male reproductive systemBiology Crash CourseGeneral Science for Competitive Examsgs by priya mam (August 2022).