The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc

P4 = See Progesterone.

Panbypopituitarism -- Complete pituitary gland failure.

Pap Smear -- Removal of cells from the surface of the cervix to study microscopically.

Parlodel -- See Bromocriptine.

Partial Zona Dissection (PZD) -- A predecessor to ICSI in which the zona pellucida, or shell, surrounding a woman's egg is opened, using either chemical dissolution or a sharp instrument to file through the shell, in order to allow easier access for sperm. Can result in too many sperm entering the egg.

Patent -- The condition of being open, as with tubes that form part of the reproductive organs. An HSG, for example, is done to see if the fallopian tubes are patent.

Paternal Leukocyte Immunization (PLI) -- Injecting a woman with her husband's (or male partner's) white blood cells to increase her fetal blocking antibodies and lower her NK cells.

PCO, PCOD, PCOS -- See Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. See FAQ on PCOS

PCT -- See Post Coital Test.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) -- An infection of the pelvic organs that causes severe illness, high fever, and extreme pain. PID may lead to tubal blockage and pelvic adhesions.

Penis -- The male organ of sexual intercourse.

Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA) -- A small needle is passed directly into the head of the epididymis and fluid is aspirated. Any sperm found are used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization with ICSI.

Perinatologist -- A doctor specializing in treating the fetus/baby and mother during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, particularly when the mother and/or baby are at a high risk for complications.

Pergonal (hMG) -- A medication used to replace the pituitary hormones LH and FSH. Similar to Humegon and Repronex. May be used to induce ovulation in women who do not respond to clomiphene citrate. Most frequently used with women who do not normally produce estrogen because of a pituitary gland or hypothalamic malfunction. May also be used with men to stimulate sperm production.

PESA -- See Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration.

PI -- See Primary Infertility.

PID -- See Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

Pituitary Gland -- The master gland; the gland that is stimulated by the hypothalamus and controls all hormonal functions. Located at the base of the brain just below the hypothalamus, this gland controls many major hormonal factories throughout the body including the gonads, the adrenal glands, and the thyroid gland.

Placenta -- The embryonic tissue that implants in uterine wall and provides a mechanism for exchanging the baby's carbon dioxide and waste products for the mother's nutrients and oxygen. The baby is connected to the placenta by the umbilical cord.

PLI -- See Paternal Leukocyte Immunization.

PMS -- See Pre-menstrual Syndrome.

POC -- See Products of Conception.

POF -- See Premature Ovarian FailureVisit the POF Bulletin Board

Polar Body -- The discarded genetic material resulting from female germ cell division. See Meiosis.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCO, PCOD, PCOD, or "Stein-Leventhal Syndrome") -- A condition found in women who don't ovulate, characterized by excessive production of androgens (male sex hormones) and the presence of cysts in the ovaries. Though PCO can be without symptoms, some include excessive weight gain, acne and excessive hair growth.

Polyp -- A growth or tumor, usually benign, on an internal surface such as the uterine wall.

Polyspermy -- More than one sperm entering and fertilizing an egg.

Post Coital Test (PCT) -- A microscopic examination of the cervical mucus performed several hours after intercourse to determine compatibility between the woman's mucus and the man's semen; a test used to detect sperm-mucus interaction problems, the presence of sperm antibodies, and the quality of the cervical mucus.

Posttesticular System -- The ducts that store and deliver the sperm to the opening of the penis; also includes the glands that produce seminal fluids.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- A psychological disorder that develops in some individuals after a major traumatic experience such as war, rape, domestic violence, or accident. There are some articles written about PTSD as a complication of infertility or as a result of pregnancy loss. Some symptoms include avoidance, guilt, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, and excessive irritability.

Preclinical Pregnancy -- An early loss that ends before the next period is due. There are usually no pregnancy symptoms, but a blood test can reveal small amounts of the pregnancy hormone HCG. Also called Chemical Pregnancy.

Pre-embryo -- A fertilized egg before cell division begins.

Pregnyl -- Injectable hCG.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) -- The cessation of menses associated with high levels of gonadotropins and low levels of estrogen before age 40. The ovary may intermittantly produce mature follicles. Visit the POF Bulletin Board

Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM) -- Spontaneous rupture of fetal membranes at least one hour before the onset of labor. Characterized by a trickle or gush of fluid from the vagina.

Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) -- Emotional and physical disturbances that occur after ovulation and usually end with menstruation.

Pretesticular System -- The male hormonal system responsible for stimulating sperm production and the development of male secondary sex characteristics.

Primary Infertility (PI) -- Refers to those struggling with infertility without ever having conceived. Popular usage has been extended to include those who have conceived but not had a live birth. 

Products of Conception (POC) -- Tissues resulting from a pregnancy, such as the embryo/fetus and placenta. The term is often found on pathology reports where miscarriages are analyzed.

Profasi -- Injectable hCG.

Progesterone (P4) -- The hormone produced by the corpus luteum during the second half of a woman's cycle. It thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare it to accept implantation of a fertilized egg. It is released in pulses, so the amount in the bloodstream is not constant.

Progesterone Withdrawal -- A diagnostic procedure used to analyze menstrual irregularity and amenorrhea; uterine "bleeding" that occurs within two weeks after taking progesterone; a procedure used to demonstrate the presence or absence of estrogen and to demonstrate the ability of the uterus and reproductive tract to "bleed." Prior to ovulation induction therapy, progesterone withdrawal may be used to induce a menstrual period.

Progestin -- A synthetic progesterone (Provera).

Prolactin -- The hormone that stimulates the production of milk in breastfeeding women. Excessive prolactin levels when not breastfeeding may result in infertility.

PROM -- See Premature Rupture of Membranes.

Prostate Gland -- A gland encircling the male urethra that produces a third of the fluid in semen, including a chemical that liquefies the coagulated semen twenty minutes to one hour after entering the vagina.

Prostaglandins -- Hormone-like substances found in men and women. It is hypothesized that prostaglandins secreted by active, young endometrial implants may interfere with the reproductive organs by causing muscular contractions or spasms. Also, prostaglandins not "washed" from sperm can cause severe cramping during IUI procedures.

Provera -- See Progestin.

PTSD -- See Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Pyospermia -- The presence of white cells in the semen indicates possible infection and/or inflammation.

PZD -- See Partial Zona Dissection.