Obstetrician – A doctor who specialises in the supervision of pregnancy and childbirth.

Oestrogen – The female sex hormone produced by the ovaries.  Oestradiol, Oestriol and Oestrone are all forms of oestrogen.

Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT) – This relates to poor sperm count, poor motility and high numbers of abnormal shaped sperm.  Fewer than 4.8 million sperm per ml.

Oligospermia – A condition in which the sperm count is less than 20 million per ml.

Ovaries – The female reproductive organs that contain eggs, which produce the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

Ovulation – The release of a mature egg from an ovarian follicle.  This is usually around 14 days before the onset of menstruation.

Partial Zonal Dissection (PZD) – A small hole/slit is made into the outer coat of the egg to help sperm to penetrate.

Patent – Open, unobstructed.  Used in respect of the fallopian tubes and male duct system.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – An infection involving the pelvic organs e.g. ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Penis – The male sex organ of sexual intercourse and urination.

Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA) – Aspiration of sperm from the epididymus.

Pessary – Medication produced for use in the vagina or rectum.

Pituitary Gland – An endocrine gland at the base of the brain that produces several hormones including follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone.  It is the master gland of the endocrine system of the body.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – Also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome.  A condition where multiple cysts appear in the ovary.  Abnormal hormone imbalance can arise causing problems with ovulation.  Diagnosed by blood test, vaginal ultrasound and signs such as increase in body weight, excessive hair growth and acne.  These signs do not always manifest themselves in PCOS.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – A technique used in genetic (DNA) diagnosis.

Polyp – A nodule or small usually non-cancerous growth found on a mucus membrane.  These can grow on the cervix or in the uterus and often cause vaginal discharge and heavy menstruation.

Post-Coital Test (PCT) – A diagnostic test which allows observation of semen/mucus interaction.  A sample of mucus is taken from the woman’s cervix just before ovulation time, 6-12 hours following sexual intercourse.

Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) – A technique in which embryos are tested for specific genetic disorders before being replaced into the womb.

Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) – A collection of physical and emotional signs and symptoms, which appear during the post ovulatory phase.  They disappear at the onset of menstruation.  Most women experience menstrual symptoms, but if they become severe it is recognised medically as Pre-menstrual Syndrome.

Progesterone – A hormone produced by the corpus luteum – where the egg leaves the ovary – after ovulation has occurred.  The placenta also produces it in pregnancy.

Prolactin – A pituitary hormone produced during pregnancy and following delivery of a baby.  It stimulates breast milk production.  Some women with infertility have a high level of prolactin, which causes the hormones to become imbalanced and can prevent ovulation.  Successful treatment can be obtained by the use of drugs.

Prostate – A gland found only in men at the base of the bladder and surrounds the first part of the urethra.  It produces a slightly acid solution, which makes up around one third of the seminal fluid.

Pseudocyesis – False pregnancy.  A condition, in which a woman believes herself to be pregnant and may have some signs of being pregnant, but is not.

Retrograde Ejaculation – At male orgasm, the seminal fluid containing the sperm goes backwards into the bladder.  Often suffered by diabetics and men with multiple sclerosis.