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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 (-196°C), 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
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 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.
Early Menopause - Please see premature ovarian
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Fallopian Tubes - A pair of tubes attached
to the uterus, one on each side, where sperm and egg meet in
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
In Vitro Maturation (IVM) - Maturing
immature eggs in the laboratory
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
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.
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.
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
Oocyte retrieval - please see egg retrieval
Oophorectomy - Surgery to remove one or both
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
Ovarian stimulation - The administration of
hormones, or fertility medications, to mature several eggs in
Ovarian suppression - Any treatment,
hormonal or otherwise, which dampens or stops the functioning of
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).
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
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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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
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
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
Specialty pharmacy - A pharmacy with
expertise in a certain medical condition, such as infertility.
Sperm - Male reproductive cells, also called
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.
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
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.
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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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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Womb - please see uterus.
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Zygote - The fertilized egg before cell
Reprinted from the AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR REPRODUCTIVE
MEDICINE1209 Montgomery Highway Birmingham, Alabama
35216-2809(205) 978-5000 • firstname.lastname@example.org •
with an excerpt from Fertile Hope
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