New International Glossary on Infertility and Fertility Care

A new consensus-based and evidence-based document published last week simultaneously in Fertility and Sterility and Human Reproduction contains 283 terms used in infertility and fertility care. Last revised in 2009, the glossary has been enhanced and expanded to facilitate better communication between health professionals, scientists, patients, policy makers, and the public.

ICMART (the International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technology) published its first glossary in 2006 with 53 terms. In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) joined ICMART to revise and expand the glossary to 87 terms. For this new edition of the glossary, 20 organizations worked together to develop definitions of 283 terms. 

Since 2009, reproductive professionals noted that the glossary could benefit from some addition of content- particularly in the areas of male factor, demography, epidemiology, and public health. To address this need, 25 professionals from around the world formed five working groups to develop revisions of existing definitions and formulate new definitions on topics not covered in previous editions. The five groups focused on clinical definitions; outcome measurements; embryology laboratories; clinical and laboratory andrology; and epidemiology and public health. Their work was reviewed and refined by a larger group of independent experts as well as representatives of professional and patient organizations.

Notable changes in this edition of the glossary include the term, “subfertility,” which may now be used interchangeably with “infertility;” and the definition of infertility as “A disease characterized by the failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse or due to an impairment of a person's capacity to reproduce either as an individual or with his/her partner. […] Infertility is a disease, which generates disability as an impairment of function.”

“The new glossary is a great tool that will help us improve patient care as well as collaborative research.  Agreeing on standardized definitions and meanings that go beyond culture and context is essential for medical and scientific advancements. Everyone in the field of reproductive medicine and science will benefit from using the new glossary,” said Richard J. Paulson, MD, ASRM President.

Zegers-Hochschild et al, The International Glossary on Infertility and Fertility Care, 2017, Fertility and Sterility, in press.


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