Assisted Reproductive Terminology

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By: Maureen B. Cohon, Esquire

 Our firm represents many clients who are seeking our legal services to complete an adoption matter or who need a consultation in deciding on the many ways of “making the baby”.

There are now so many ways of reproduction that I am including a list of the various terminology that may be helpful to understanding what your choices are.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

IVF is a process in which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body (in vitro). Fertilized oocytes (embryos) are cultured for 3-6 days and then transferred to the uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.

Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)/Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS)

Pre-implantation genetic testing is a technique used to identify genetic or chromosomal abnormalities in embryos created through IVF before pregnancy.

Embryo Cryopreservation

Embryo cryopreservation is preserving an embryo at extreme sub-zero temperatures.  It is typically used when there are excess embryos from an IVF cycle,  Use of cryopreserved embryos allows patients to have an additional attempt at pregnancy without needing to undergo ovarian stimulation and oocyte retrieval.

Semen Cryopreservation

Semen cryopreservation is a procedure to preserve sperm.

Oocyte Cryopreservation

Oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) is a novel technology in which a woman’s oocytes are extracted, frozen and stored.  Later, when she is ready to become pregnant (or if the eggs have been donated for use by different intended parents), the eggs can be thawed, fertilized, and transferred to the uterus as embryos.

Sperm Donation

Sperm donation is donation by a man of his sperm with the intention that it be used to impregnate a woman who is not his sexual partner.  Sperm donation is now used widely.  Sperm is often donated through sperm banks, which are subject to FDA and varying state regulations, including restrictions on the number of offspring related to each donor, and screening for communicable disease.

Oocyte Donation

Oocyte donation is the process by which a woman provides several oocytes in order to help another woman achieve pregnancy.  Oocyte donation involves the process of in vitro fertilization as the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory, typically by the sperm of the oocyte recipient’s partner.

Embryo Donation

Embryo donation is defined as the giving – generally without compensation – of embryos remaining after one individual’s or couple’s IVF cycle, to another person or couple, followed by the placement of those embryos into the recipient women’s uterus to achieve pregnancy.


Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another couple in person.  The surrogate may be the child’s genetic mother (called traditional surrogacy), or she may be genetically unrelated to the child (called gestational surrogacy).  In a traditional surrogacy, the child may be conceived via home artificial insemination using fresh or frozen sperm or via intrauterine insemination performed in a medical setting.  Gestational surrogacy involves the transfer of embryos created using IVF.

This is from part of an article written by Jacqueline Gutmann, M.D., Reproductive Medicine Associates of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Copyright 2013 Pennsylvania Bar Institute.  Reprinted with permission. 




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