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Andrology Glossary


Abstinence – a period of time without any ejaculations (reported in days)


Acrosome – an enzymatic cap that sits atop the head of sperm cell and functions to allow sperm to communicate with and penetrate the egg.


Acrosome reaction – a change in the sperm acrosome that occurs prior to the sperm being able to penetrate the egg


Andrology – the study/science of male reproduction and fertility


ART – assisted reproductive technologies; includes procedures such as IVF or IUI


Aspermia – the lack of an ejaculate; no semen released upon orgasm


Asthenozoospermia – the percentage of progressively motile sperm is below the lower reference limit


Azoospermia – no sperm in the ejaculate


BPH – benign prostatic hypoplasia; a condition in which the prostate is swollen


CASA – computer aided semen analysis; a software that performs semen analysis


CLIA – Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments; the national program designed to oversee laboratory practices and certificaitons


Cryopreservation – the process of “freezing” cells or tissues for indefinite storage


Cryoprotectant – a substance used to freeze human cells/tissue that replaces water molecules to prevent them from crystallizing during freezing that causes cellular death


Cryptoorchidism – a condition that prevents one or both testicles from dropping into the scrotum prior to birth and often prevents normal sperm production; aka an undescended testicle


Cryptozoospermia – the presence of sperm in a centrifuged sample when it was absent from wet preparations


CSA – complete semen analysis


Efferent ducts – the ducts that collect the sperm from the seminiferous tubules and trasports it to the epididymis


Ejaculation – the process by which semen is expelled from the body upon orgasm


Epididymis – the tube that sperm enters into from the testicle and leads to the vas deferens; the location of where sperm maturation takes place


Epididymitis – an inflammation/infection of the epididymis


FSH – follicular stimulating hormone; the hormone produced in the brain that tells the testicles to make sperm (or the ovary to mature an egg).


FDA – the Food and Drug Administration; oversees cryopreservation, storage and shipment of all human cellular or tissue products/samples


Forward progression – a way to classify sperm movement based on average speed and direction of movement


Gametes - the reproductive cells: sperm and eggs


Germ cells – the types of cells that give rise to sperm and eggs


Hypoosmotic swelling test – a way to test the vitality of sperm without killing them or rendering them unuseable for ART


Hypospermia – the volume of the semen is lower than normal range


Hypospadia – a condition in which the opening to the urethra is not at the front of the head of the penis


Immotile – a sperm that is not moving (it could still be alive however)


Infertility – when a person is not able to produce offspring naturally


IUI – intrauterine insemination; the least invasive type of ART, consists of washing sperm and using a catheter to place them into the uterus


IVF – in vitro fertilization; a type of ART that involves surgically removing eggs and fertilizing them in lab, and incubating the embryos for a period of time before transferring the embryos into the uterus


ICSI – intracytoplasmic sperm injection; a more complex method of IVF that involves actually injecting a single sperm into an egg to fertilize it


Karyotype – a type of genetic analysis that looks at the chromosome content of an individual


LH – lutenizing hormone; a type of hormone that is related to gamete production


Lower reference limits – the lowest average value for fertile individuals; used as a reference point for relatively looking at fertility


Morphology -- the way the sperm look, their physical appearance or form (shape, size, etc). References specific flaws in the different parts of the sperm cell (head, midpiece, tail, acrosome).


Motility – movement; the percentage of sperm that are moving versus those that are not moving (these sperm are immotile)


Necrozoospermia – the percentage of live sperm is below the lower reference limit, with a high percentage of immotile sperm


NOA – non-obstructive azoospermia; lack of sperm in an ejaculate due to a lack of sperm production


Non-progressive motility – sperm that are moving in place but not going anywhere, aka “twitchers”


OA – obstructive azoospermia; lack of sperm in an ejaculate due to a blockage


Oligozoospermia – the concentration of sperm is below the lower reference limit


Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia – the concentration, percentage of progressively motile sperm and percentage of morphologically normal sperm are all below the lower reference limit


PEU – post-ejaculate urine analysis


pH – the acidity/alkalinity of a sample; 0-14 scale with pH of 7 being neutral


PRevSA – post vasectomy reversal semen analysis


Progressive motility – when a sperm is moving such that it is moving forward with each tail stroke; reported as a percentage; part of differential motility


Prostate – the male organ that is responsible for adding compounds to the sperm/semen mixture


PVSA – post vasectomy semen analysis


REI – reproductive endocrinology and infertility; a type of medical doctor that has been fellowship trained in fertility following Ob/Gyn training; the doctors that perform female fertility work-ups and all types of ART.


Retrograde ejaculation – a condition in which semen is expelled into the urinary bladder rather than out the penis


SA – semen analysis


Seminiferous tubules – the tubules inside the testicle that are where sperm is produced


Seminoma – a cancer of the cells that make up the testicle


Sertoli cell – the type of testicular cell that makes sperm cells


SIPs – sexually intimate partners; a type of donor classification


Staining – a way of exposing sperm to certain chemicals/dyes so that different parts of the sperm cell take up different colors; most often used for vitality or morphology


Teratozoospermia – the percentage of morphologically normal sperm is below the lower reference limit


Testosterone – a steroid hormone that is responsible for sperm production, the manifestation of “male” characteristics and sex drive/libido


Varicocele – an engorging of veins leading to the testicle that can cause subfertility; treatable condition


Viscosity – the thickness of a sample, i.e. how easily it flows


Vitality – aka viability; the percentage of sperm that are alive vs. dead


Volume – how much of a sample there is; measured in milliliters typically.


WHO 5th – the most current edition of the World Health Organization’s manual for the examining and processing of human semen, released in 2010.

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