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Glossary of Terms

A

Adenomyosis. A benign (non-cancerous) invasion of endometrial tissue into the muscular wall (myometrium) of the uterus; is associated with painful or heavy menstrual periods. 

Adhesions (scar tissue). Bands of fibrous scar tissue that may bind the pelvic organs and/or loops of bowel together. Adhesions can result from previous infections, endometriosis, or previous surgeries.

Adoption
- Legal process that creates a parent-child relation between genetically unrelated individuals. Advanced medical directive - Written document that specifies a person's wishes concerning his or her medical care in the event that person becomes incapacitated or dies and is unable to directly provide those instructions. An advanced medical directive can be used to determine the future use of frozen tissue like sperm, eggs, embryos and ovarian tissue.

Alkylating agents - Category of chemotherapy medications that usually have the worst impact on the reproductive system.

Amenorrhea. The complete absence or suppression of menstrual periods.- Absence or cessation of menstrual periods

Androgen. In men, androgens are the “male” hormones produced by the testes which are responsible for encouraging masculine characteristics. In women, androgens are produced in small amounts by both the adrenal glands and ovaries. In women, excess amounts of androgens can lead to irregular menstrual periods, obesity, excessive growth of body hair (hirsutism), and infertility.

Andrologist - A doctor who specializes in male infertility and sexual disorders, for example sperm and hormone production. May also be a scientist who analyzes semen.

Aromatase inhibitors
- Medications that inhibit the conversion of androgens to estrogens by the enzyme aromatase, thus depriving the tumor of estrogenic signals

Artificial Insemination - Semen is collected and processed in a lab and then inserted directly into the woman's cervix or uterus to try to achieve pregnancy. Also called intracervical (ICI) or intrauterine insemination (IUI)

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) - A term that covers several high-tech treatments which make it possible for sperm and eggs to meet and fertilize, for example, in vitro fertilization

Azoospermia - The absence of sperm.

B

Biopsy - Removal of tissue from the body for microscopic examination and diagnosis

Blastocyst - A fertilized egg after several days (5 to 6) of cell division.
C
Cervix - The lower section of the uterus, which protrudes into the vagina and dilates during labor to allow the passage of the fetus

Clinical pregnancy
- A pregnancy in which the beating fetal heart has been identified by ultrasound. Prior to this point, a blood test or a urinary pregnancy test may indicate a pregnancy. Such tests look for human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG. If the blood or urinary tests indicate a positive reading, then the pregnancy is referred to as a chemical pregnancy.

Clomid (also known as clomiphene) - Brand name oral medication used to stimulate ovulation.

Clomiphene (also known as clomid or serophene) - A fertility drug that acts by inhibiting the action of estrogen on the pituitary gland, causing the gland to release more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which in turn often results in the development of more than a single follicle.

Conization - Surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix and cervical canal. Conization may be used to diagnose or treat a cervical condition. Also called cone biopsy

Cryobank - A place where tissues such as sperm, oocytes, and embryos are stored in the frozen state

Cryopreservation - The process of storing biological material at low temperatures often for long periods of time.

Cryoprotectants - The fluid used to freeze eggs, embryos, and sperm. The fluid is comprised of organic chemical liquids and sugar.

Cryopreserved. Freezing at a very low temperature, such as in liquid nitrogen (-196C), to keep embryos viable so as to store them for future transfer into a uterus or to keep sperm viable for future insemination or assisted reproductive technology procedures. At present, cryopreservation of eggs is experimental.

D

Diminished ovarian reserve - Reduction in the number of viable eggs in the ovary.

Donor eligibility determination. A donor eligibility determination is based on screening and testing the donor for certain communicable disease agents and diseases, which we term "relevant communicable disease agents and diseases." A donor eligibility determination is required for all donors, with some exceptions [1271.45(b)]. An HCT/P cannot be administered to a patient until the donor has been determined to be eligible, with some exceptions FDA guidelines [1271.45(c)].

Donor eggs - The eggs taken from the ovaries of a fertile woman and donated to an infertile woman to be used in an assisted reproductive technology procedure. The donors relinquish all parental rights to any resulting offspring.

Donor embryos - Embryos donated from one couple to another person or couple. The donors relinquishes all parental rights to any resulting offspring

Donor screening Donor screening consists of reviewing the donor's relevant medical records for risk factors for, and clinical evidence of, relevant communicable disease agents and diseases [1271.75]. These records include a current donor medical history interview (with the donor or another individual who is able to provide information about the donor's medical history and relevant social behavior), a current physical assessment, and, if available, medical records, laboratory test results, coroner and autopsy reports, and records or other information received from any source pertaining to risk factors for relevant communicable disease (e.g., social behavior, clinical signs and symptoms of relevant communicable disease, and treatments related to medical conditions suggestive of risk for relevant communicable disease [1271.3(s)].

Donor insemination - Artificial insemination using donated sperm

Donor sperm - Sperm from a man who is not a woman's partner for the purpose of producing pregnancies.

Dysmenorrhea. Painful menstruation.

E

Early Menopause - Please see premature ovarian failure (POF)

Ectopic pregnancy. A pregnancy that implants outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. The tube may rupture or bleed as the pregnancy grows and create or result in a serious medical situation.

Egg (Oocyte) - Unfertilized germ cell that contains the genetic material of the female

Egg Donation - The process by which a fertile woman donates her eggs to be used to achieve a pregnancy in another woman

Egg Freezing - A procedure used to freeze unfertilized eggs (oocytes)

Egg retrieval - The process by which eggs are removed from the ovary. This is usually done vaginally under ultrasound guidance as an outpatient medical procedure.

Ejaculate - The fluid emitted from a man's penis that contains sperm

Electroejaculation (EEJ) - A means of extracting sperm from men with erectile dysfunction by using an electrical probe in the rectum

Embryo. The earliest stage of human development arising after the union of the sperm and egg (fertilization). The product of an egg fertilized by a sperm, from its early developmental stages until the eighth week of development. After this time, it is considered a fetus.

Embryo Donation - please see donor embryo www.embryosalive.com

Embryo Freezing
- A procedure used to freeze embryos (newest method 2006 vitrification process)

Embryo Transfer - The process by which embryos that have been created and grown in the lab are transferred into the uterus. More than one embryo can be transferred at a time, so pregnancy rate per transfer is different than the pregnancy rate per embryo or per egg.

Embryologist - A scientist who studies the growth and development of the embryo

Endometriosis. A condition in which endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, develops outside of the uterine cavity in abnormal locations such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and abdominal cavity.

Epigenetics or Epigenics- The biochemical processes that lead to an enduring change in the pattern of gene activity during development and beyond, but without altering the DNA sequence.

Epigenetics & Applications
Epigenetics is the study of epigenetic inheritance, a set of reversible heritable changes in gene function or other cell phenotype that occur without a change in DNA sequence (genotype). These changes may be induced spontaneously, in response to environmental factors, or in response to the presence of a particular allele, even if it is absent from subsequent generations.

Epigenetics includes the study of effects that are inherited from one cell generation to the next whether these occur in embryonic morphogenesis, regeneration, normal turnover of cells, tumors, cell culture, or the replication of single celled organisms. Recently, there has been increasing interest in the idea that some forms of epigenetic inheritance may be maintained even through the production of germ cells (meiosis), and therefore may endure from one generation to the next in multicellular organisms.

Estrogen. The female sex hormones produced by the ovaries which are responsible for the development of female sex characteristics. Estrogens are largely responsible for stimulating the uterine lining to thicken during the first half of the menstrual cycle in preparation for ovulation and possible pregnancy. They are also important for healthy bones and overall health. A small amount of these hormones is also produced in the male when testosterone is converted to estrogen. 2.) - A female hormone that has a variety of functions. It is produced in increasing amounts from the developing follicle and the highest levels are found at ovulation. The main function of estrogen is to create an ideal environment for egg fertilization and implantation in the womb.

F

Fallopian Tubes - A pair of tubes attached to the uterus, one on each side, where sperm and egg meet in normal conception

Fertility - The ability to reproduce; in humans, the ability to bear children

Fertility Preservation - Term used to describe procedures that protect a person's fertility prior to undergoing medical treatments that may cause infertility. These procedures include egg and embryo freezing, sperm banking, ovarian transposition, ovarian and testicular tissue freezing, radical trachelectomy, and conservative surgery for ovarian cancer.

Fertility-sparing surgery - General term used to describe gynecologic surgery for women with ovarian or cervical cancer. For ovarian cancer, this includes removal of only the affected ovary and preservation of the uterus. For cervical cancer, this includes conization and radical trachelectomy.

Fertilization - The penetration of the egg by the sperm and fusion of paternal and maternal genetic materials resulting in the development of an embryo

Fibroids. Benign (non-cancerous) tumors of the uterine muscle wall that can cause abnormal uterine bleeding. Also known as leiomyomas or myomas.

Follicle. A fluid-filled sac located just beneath the surface of the ovary that contains an egg (oocyte) and cells that produce hormones. The follicle increases in size and volume during the first half of the menstrual cycle. At ovulation, the follicle matures and ruptures, releasing the egg. As the follicle matures, it can be visualized 2.) - The fluid-filled cyst that contains the egg. At menstruation, the follicle is very small and it grows to its largest size just prior to ovulation. Natural ovulation involves one follicle, while fertility drugs result in the development of many follicles. Ultrasound can measure the follicle size, but can not see the egg.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) - A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that stimulates the growth of follicles in the ovaries. This hormone is used to help gauge ovarian reserve.

Foster Care - State or local government supervised child welfare program in which adults temporarily care for children who have been removed from abusive or unsafe environments.

G

Gamete - Male or female reproductive cells - the sperm or the egg

Genetic Counseling - A communication process between a specially trained health professional and a person concerned about the genetic risk of disease. The person's family and individual medical history may be discussed, and counseling may lead to genetic testing.

Gestational Carrier - A gestational carrier is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another woman. The gestational carrier is not genetically related to the resulting baby.

Gonadotropin - One of three hormone secreted by the pituitary gland or placenta. Specific types of gonadotropins include luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) - A hormone released by the brain that is involved in triggering the release of LH and FSH from the pituitary gland and ovulation.

GnRH Analogs - Synthetic hormones similar to the naturally occurring gonadotropin releasing hormone used to prevent premature ovulation. There are two types of GnRH analogs: GnRH agonists and GnRH antagonists.

GnRH Agonists - A GnRH analog that initially stimulates the pituitary gland to release LH and FSH, followed by a delayed suppressive effect. They are also used to help stimulate follicle growth when started at the beginning of an IVF cycle.

GnRH Antagonists - Synthetic hormones similar to the naturally occurring gonadotropin releasing hormone used to prevent premature ovulation. These medications have an immediate suppressive effect on the pituitary gland.

Gynecologic Oncologist - A doctor with specialized training in the management of gynecologic cancers.

Gynecologist - A physician who specializes in conditions that affect a woman's reproductive organs

H

Home study - Process in which a social worker specializing in adoption assures that an impending adoption will be conducted in accordance with agency and government-mandated guidelines. The process usually involves interviews with potential parents, identity and background checks, financial reviews, and at least one home visit.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) - The hormone produced by the placenta during early pregnancy. This is the hormone tested to confirm pregnancy. It is also used in medication form to artificially trigger ovulation.

Hydrosalpinx. A blocked, dilated, fluid-filled fallopian tube.

Hysterectomy - Surgery to remove the uterus and, sometimes, the cervix. When the uterus and cervix are removed, it is called a total hysterectomy. When only the uterus is removed, it is called a partial, or supracervical, hysterectomy

I

Implantation - The process of attachment of the embryo to the endometrial lining of the uterus 2.The process whereby an embryo embeds in the uterine lining in order to obtain nutrition and oxygen. Sometimes an embryo will implant in areas other than the uterus, such as in a fallopian tube. This is known as an ectopic pregnancy.

Impotence - The inability to have an erection of the penis adequate for sexual intercourse. Also called erectile dysfunction. Impotence is not related to the presence or absence of sperm. Impotence is not the same as infertility and infertility is not the same as impotence.

Independent Adoption - An adoption arranged privately between the birth family and the adoptive family, without an adoption agency. Some states, however, may require involvement of an adoption agency to coordinate activities like home visits, social work counseling for the birthmother.

Infertility - The inability to conceive after a year of unprotected intercourse or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term. 2,)  Infertility is the result of a disease of the male or female reproductive tract which prevents the conception of a child or the ability to carry a pregnancy to delivery. The duration of unprotected intercourse with failure to conceive should be about 12 months or more before an investigation is undertaken, unless medical history, age, and physical findings dictate earlier evaluation and treatment.

Informed Consent - Legal document that explains a course of treatment, the risks, benefits, and possible alternatives; the process by which patients agree to treatment

Insemination - The placement of semen into a woman's uterus, cervix, or vagina to try to achieve pregnancy.

International Adoption - The adoption of a child from another country.

Intracervical Insemination (ICI) - Semen is collected and processed in a lab and then inserted into the woman's cervix in an effort to achieve a pregnancy.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - A process where one sperm is injected into an egg to facilitate fertilization. This is necessary in cases of low sperm counts.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) - Semen is collected and processed in a lab and then inserted directly into the woman's uterus to try to achieve pregnancy. Also called artificial insemination

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - A method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. After the egg fertilizes and begins cell division, the resulting embryo is transferred into the woman's uterus

In Vitro Maturation (IVM) - Maturing immature eggs in the laboratory
 

J
K
L

Laparoscopy - A procedure that involves insertion of a narrow, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen 2.) A surgical procedure that allows viewing of the internal pelvic organs. During the procedure, a long narrow fiberoptic instrument, called a laparoscope, is inserted through an incision in or below the woman’s navel. One or two other incisions may be made for inserting additional instruments.

LEEP (Loop Electrocautery Excisional Procedure) - Similar to conization but performed in the office. The piece of the cervix is removed with a wire loop.

Letrozole - A medication that belongs to the family of drugs called nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors used to decrease estrogen production.

Live Birth - This refers to the actual live birth of one or more babies. In determining success-rate data using live births, the industry standard is to count a "live birth" as a single delivery, regardless of how many babies were born.

Luteinizing hormone (LH) - hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain that stimulates the growth and maturation of eggs in females and sperm in males.

M

Male Factor Infertility - When the cause of a couple's infertility is due to problems with the man.

Menopause - Stage in life when a woman stops having her monthly menstrual period. By definition, a woman is menopausal after her periods have stopped for one year. Menopause typically occurs in a woman's late forties to early fifties. It is a normal part of aging, marking the end of a woman's reproductive years. 2.) Natural cessation of ovarian function and menstruation. Menopause can occur between the ages of 42 and 56 but usually occurs around the age of 51, when the ovaries stop producing eggs and estrogen levels decline.

Menstruation - Periodic discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus. Until menopause, menstruation occurs approximately every 28 days when a woman is not pregnant.

Miscarriage - Early pregnancy loss, usually before 20 weeks gestation. Also called spontaneous abortion. 2.) The naturally occurring expulsion of a nonviable fetus and placenta from the uterus; also known as spontaneous abortion or pregnancy loss.

Morphology - The physical structure of organisms, including sperm. 2.) The form, structure, and shape of sperm. At least 30% of the sperm in a semen sample should have oval heads and slightly curving tails.

Motility - The ability of sperm to move and progress forward through the reproductive tract and fertilize the egg; sperm motility can be assessed microscopically. 2. The form, structure, and shape of sperm. At least 30% of the sperm in a semen sample should have oval heads and slightly curving tails.

O

Obstetrician - A physician who specializes in pregnancy, labor and delivery

Oncofertility - An interdisciplinary approach to developing and providing new fertility preservation options to young men, women, and children who have been diagnosed with cancer or other serious diseases and who must undergo potentially fertility-threatening treatment.

Oocyte - please see egg

Oocyte cryopreservation - please see egg freezing

Oocyte retrieval - please see egg retrieval

Oophorectomy - Surgery to remove one or both ovaries

Ovarian Failure - The inability of the ovary to function normally in regard to hormone production, usually due to the absence of follicles containing eggs (oocytes)

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) - OHSS is a serious medical condition that occurs when the ovaries have been overstimulated by fertility drugs. Ovaries become enlarged and fluid accumulates in the abdomen and sometimes the lungs. Symptoms to report to a doctor include nausea, vomiting, weight gain, pelvic pain, and difficulty breathing. OHSS is rare and can be avoided in most cases with careful monitoring and appropriate treatment strategies.

Ovarian reserve - A term used to describe the number of eggs in the ovaries. Ovarian reserve decreases over time until menopause occurs and there are no more eggs present.

Ovarian stimulation - The administration of hormones, or fertility medications, to mature several eggs in the ovaries.

Ovarian suppression - Any treatment, hormonal or otherwise, which dampens or stops the functioning of the ovaries.

Ovarian tissue freezing - A surgical procedure in which part or all of an ovary is removed, divided into small strips and frozen for future use to try to restore hormone function and/or achieve pregnancy.

Ovarian transposition - A surgical procedure where one or both ovaries are moved out of the pelvis, so that they are out of the field of pelvic radiation.

Ovary (Ovaries) - The female reproductive organ that produces eggs and hormones.

Ovulation - The release of a mature egg from its follicle in the ovary

Ovulation Induction - Use of female hormone therapy to stimulate follicle development and egg release.

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Ovaries. The two female sex glands in the pelvis that produce eggs, estrogen, and progesterone.

Ovulation. The release of a mature egg from its developing follicle in the outer layer of the ovary. This usually occurs approximately 14 days preceding the next menstrual period (the 14th day of a 28-day cycle).

P

Pituitary gland - Gland at the base of the brain that secretes hormones and regulates and controls other hormone-secreting glands and many body processes, including the ovaries, testicles, adrenal gland and thyroid gland.

Postmenopausal - Refers to the time after menopause when menstruation has stopped

Pregnancy (clinical) - The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth when a woman carries a developing fetus in her uterus

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) - A technique used during in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to test embryos for genetic disorders prior to their transfer to the uterus. PGD makes it possible for individuals with serious inherited disorders to decrease the risk of having a child who is affected by the disorder.

Premature ovarian failure - Cessation of periods and menopause before the age of 40.

Premenopausal - Refers to the time before menopause when menstruation is still ongoing

Prepubertal - Prepubescent: at an age before puberty

Progesterone - A female hormone secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary after ovulation during the second half of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase). It prepares the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for implantation of a fertilized egg and allows for complete shedding of the endometrium at the time of menstruation. In the event of pregnancy, the progesterone level remains stable beginning a week or so after conception.

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Q

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R

Radiation shielding - The use of a substance to block or absorb radiation so that tissues behind the shield are protected. Radiation shielding can be used to protect the reproductive system.

Radical trachelectomy - A surgical procedure used for women with early-stage cervical cancer. The procedure removes most of the cervix but preserves the uterus, allowing for the woman to later carry a pregnancy.

Reproductive Endocrinologist - A gynecologist who has received board certification in reproductive endocrinology and infertility, following additional fellowship training in the causes, evaluation and treatment of infertility and other disorders of the reproductive system in women.

S

Secondary infertility - When a woman is unable to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after already having had a child

Semen - The fluid that is released through the penis during orgasm. Semen is made up of sperm from the testicles and fluid from the prostate and other sex glands

Semen Analysis - The microscopic examination of semen to determine the number of sperm (sperm count), their shapes (morphology), and their ability to move (motility). 2)  The microscopic examination of semen (the male ejaculate) to determine its volume, the number of sperm (sperm count), their shapes (morphology), and their ability to move (motility) in addition to other parameters

Shared risk programs - Payment option for people when their insurance does not cover IVF. The patient pays a fixed up front cost for a set number of IVF attempts. If there is no successful pregnancy after the IVF attempts, the money is refunded. However, if the patient becomes pregnant in one of her first cycle, she does not get a refund and has paid more than she would have otherwise.

Slow freezing - A technique used to freeze eggs and embryos. Attempts are made to control the cooling and warming rates to reduce the risk of ice crystal formation.

Special needs adoption - Adoption of a child with emotional, physical, or learning difficulties, who is beyond infancy, is part of a sibling group, or has other special needs.

Specialty pharmacy - A pharmacy with expertise in a certain medical condition, such as infertility.

Sperm - Male reproductive cells, also called gametes

Sperm Count - A basic fertility-assessment test of sperm density (concentration per unit of volume), primarily involving counting the number of sperm.

Sperm Banking - Freezing sperm for use in the future. This procedure can allow men to father children after loss of fertility

Spontaneous Abortion - Early pregnancy loss, usually before 20 weeks gestation. Also called miscarriage

Sterile - Inability to become pregnant; the complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate or testes in males; the absence of eggs in the female

Surrogate - A traditional surrogate is a woman who is inseminated with the sperm of a man who is not her partner in order to conceive and carry a child to be reared by the biological genetic father and his partner. In this procedure the surrogate is genetically related to the child. The biological father and his partner must usually adopt the child after its birth. Another type of surrogate is a gestational carrier - please see gestational surrogacy for more information.

T

Tamoxifen - A medication that blocks the effects of estrogen on many organs, such as the breast. Tamoxifen can be used with standard fertility medications to block the effects of estrogen. It can also be used to induce ovulation in certain circumstances.

Testes - The male reproductive gonad, located in the scrotum, which manufactures testosterone and sperm

Testicles - please see testes

Testicular biopsy - A surgical procedure that allows for microscopic examination of testicular tissue. The tissue, removed through a small incision in the scrotum, can often identify sperm and/or help determine the causes of infertility and suggest a course of treatment.

Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) - This sperm extraction technique involves the exposure of testicular tissue through a small cut in the scrotum and the removal of a small piece of testicular tissue, or retrieving sperm directly from the testes.

Testicular tissue freezing - A surgical procedure to remove testicular tissue from the testes and freeze it for future use.

Testosterone - A hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics.

Transvaginal Ultrasound - procedure used to examine the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bladder. An instrument is inserted into the vagina, and sound waves bounce off organs inside the pelvic area. These sound waves create echoes, which a computer uses to create a picture called a sonogram.


Testes. The two male reproductive glands located in the scrotum that produce testosterone and sperm.

U

Ultrasound - Procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs resulting in echoes. The echo patterns are shown on the screen of an ultrasound machine, forming a picture of body tissues called a sonogram

Urologist - A physician who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract in both males and females and sex organs in males.

Uterus (womb) - The small, pear-shaped muscular organ in a woman's pelvis. This is the organ in which a fetus develops. Also called the womb.

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V

Vagina - The canal extending from the uterus to the exterior of the body. Also called the birth canal.

Vitrification - Method of egg and embryo freezing that involves rapid cooling with high concentrations of cryoprotectants to reduce the formation of ice crystals.

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W

Womb - please see uterus.

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X

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Y

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Z

Zygote - The fertilized egg before cell division begins



Reprinted from the AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE1209 Montgomery Highway Birmingham, Alabama 35216-2809(205) 978-5000 • asrm@asrm.org • www.asrm.organd combined with an excerpt from  Fertile Hope
http://www.fertilehope.org/tool-bar/glossary.cfm 2009

 

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Phone: 513-518-7006 Fax: 727-489-2427

 

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