Patient Resources
19 June 24

ABCs of Fertility

Jessica Badrov

Navigating the world of fertility can be overwhelming, especially when you find yourself in the weeds of fertility jargon and acronyms. Whether you’re just starting your journey or you’ve been a warrior for a while, your path will be smoother if you understand the terminology. In this blog, we’ll simplify the basics by breaking down the ABCs of fertility lingo, so you can feel more informed and confident as you move forward.

Let’s start with the medical terms:

AFC – Antral Follicle Count – the number of small follicles present on your ovaries at a specific time in your menstrual cycle. These earlier-stage follicles contain an immature egg but have the potential to develop into larger follicles as the egg matures inside, following stimulation as part of your IVF or egg freezing process. The antral follicle count is often assessed by a transvaginal ultrasound and provides information to your clinician regarding your ovarian reserve. 

AMHAnti-Mullerian Hormone – a hormone produced and secreted by the ovarian follicles as they grow to support the ovulation process. AMH levels are proportional to the number of small antral follicles present and decline with advanced reproductive age nearing menopause, or in cases of premature ovarian failure. Your AMH level, relative to your age and other clinical factors (i.e., AFC), is indicative of your ovarian reserve. Check out our blog on Myths of Ovarian Reserve to learn more. (Check out our blog: Debunking Myths of Ovarian Reserve to learn more).

ART – Assisted Reproductive Technology – all fertility treatments in which both gametes (eggs and sperm) or embryos are handled within the laboratory to assist in achieving a pregnancy.

BBT – Basal Body Temperature – your body’s temperature after a period of rest, usually measured when you first wake up. Fluctuations in BBT can indicate where a woman is in her cycle.

Betathe quantitative beta hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) blood test measures the quantity of hCG pregnancy hormone in your blood following the two week wait after a fertility treatment (e.g. embryo transfer or intrauterine insemination). These levels may be measured several times to confirm an ongoing pregnancy.

Blastocystan embryo that has grown 5 to 7 days after fertilization. This rapidly dividing cluster of (approximately 150-250) cells is made up of two main components the inner cell mass (ICM), the group of cells located inside the blastocyst that will hopefully develop into a fetus, and the outer ring of trophectoderm (TE) cells, destined to form the placenta. When your fertility lab provides a blastocyst score, an embryologist will often assess the ICM and TE separately, in addition to evaluating how much the blastocyst has expanded in size.

CD – Cycle Day – a day in your menstrual cycle as measured by counting the first day of your period as cycle day 1.

CM – Cervical Mucus – fluid secretions produced by the cervix that vary in thickness and texture throughout different phases of the menstrual cycle.

COS – Controlled Ovarian Stimulation – the process of taking IVF medications (drugs) to prepare for an egg retrieval (ER), inducing ovulation of multiple eggs. 

DE – Donor Eggs – oocytes retrieved from an egg donor (an individual donating their eggs) to be used (either fresh or frozen) in the IVF process by a recipient to aid in conceiving.

DOR – Diminished Ovarian Reserve –a condition where the ovaries have a lower-than-normal reproductive potential. DOR can be the result of natural reproductive aging, but also has many other influences including genetics, autoimmune conditions, medical treatments, lifestyle choices and environmental factors. Check out our blog to learn more about ovarian reserve myths and facts.

Endo –  Endometriosis – a chronic disease where endometrium-like tissues grow outside of the uterus, often impacting the surrounding pelvic organs and tissues. Endometriosis can be very painful and may cause fertility issues — making it difficult to become pregnant. Endo may also refer to your endometrium, for example when you have an Endo lining check prior to an embryo transfer (ET). (Learn more about endometriosis and its impact on fertility on our blog.)

ER – Egg Retrieval – the surgical procedure to remove oocytes (eggs) for freezing (cryopreservation) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is also often referred to as OPU (oocyte pick up). 

ERA – Endometrial Receptivity Analysis –a test where a small sample (biopsy) of your uterine lining (endometrium) is taken during a practice (mock) transfer cycle before your actual IVF treatment. This test helps to identify the best time for an embryo to be placed in your uterus. For some patients, transferring the embryo earlier or later than the standard time can improve the chances of a successful pregnancy. While this test can provide valuable insights, more research is needed to fully understand all its benefits.

eSET – Elective Single Embryo Transfer – the elective decision to transfer a single embryo when more than one viable or good quality embryo is available. Additional suitable embryos can then be frozen for succeeding transfers. 

ET – Embryo Transfer – the timed procedure of transferring an embryo that developed in vitro (in the lab) into the uterus of a recipient (patient or gestational carrier) with the goal of achieving implantation and pregnancy. This is the final stage of an IVF cycle.

FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer – an embryo transfer (ET) using previously frozen and thawed embryo(s) from a prior IVF cycle.

FSH – Follicle Stimulating Hormone – a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that helps stimulate ovarian follicles to grow and prepare for ovulation. FSH levels are often tested on D3 of your menstrual cycle, providing insights into your ovarian reserve that are used to direct IVF treatment planning by your clinician.

GCGestational Carrier (or surrogate) – a woman who undergoes an embryo transfer with the intent to carry and deliver a child for intended parents (IP). GCs are not the source of the egg used to create the embryo (known as ‘traditional surrogacy’); therefore, they are not related genetically.

GnRHGonadotropin Releasing Hormone – a hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland to release Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH), which in turn promote the production of estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries to facilitate egg maturation and ovulation. In males, GnRH triggers the testes to produce testosterone.

hCGhuman Chorionic Gonadotropin – a hormone naturally produced by the placenta and released during pregnancy (often called the pregnancy hormone!). Serum (blood) testing for this hormone is often called a Beta (see the description above for more details).

HSG – Hysterosalpingogram – an X-ray procedure in which dye is injected into the uterus to determine if the uterine cavity is without defects (identifying any structural abnormalities) and the fallopian tubes are open and viable. This is often used in initial IVF patient investigations, also known as a ‘workup’.

ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – he technique of injecting a single live sperm into a single oocyte (egg) under the microscope, to assist with fertilization during IVF.

IP – Intended Parent(s) – person(s) who are utilizing a GC and are the owners of the embryos and are the planned parents of the resulting baby. The embryos may or may not be biologically related to the IP(s), but IPs are often the egg and/or sperm providers. 

IUI – Intrauterine Insemination – a fertility treatment (artificial insemination) that involves placing prepared sperm directly into the uterus to facilitate fertilization during ovulation. The preparation process includes washing and concentrating the sperm sample. Fertility medications may also be used as part of the treatment to induce ovulation.

IVF – In Vitro Fertilization – a fertility treatment that involves stimulating ovaries to retrieve multiple eggs, fertilizing those eggs with sperm in a laboratory (outside the body), monitoring growth of subsequent embryos and transferring an embryo to the intended patient to attempt pregnancy.

LH – Luteinizing Hormone – a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that triggers ovulation. LH surges just before a woman ovulates. This is the hormone detected on OPKs, which is important to monitor for timed intercourse or IUI scheduling.

MAGENTA – Personalized egg quality reports for IVF-ICSI patients that provide images of each of your oocytes and a score ranging from 0 to 10 correlating with the likelihood of your egg developing into a blastocyst.

OHSSOvarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – an excessive response to the medications taken while stimulating ovaries for an egg retrieval. This is a potentially serious complication of IVF and may be more common in patients with PCOS or when very high numbers of eggs are developing.

OPK – Ovulation Predictor Kit – at home tests that detect the luteinizing hormone (LH) peak before ovulation.

PCOS – a condition caused by imbalance of reproductive hormones that can cause irregular menstrual periods, excess male hormone levels, and/or ovarian cysts, all of which can lead to abnormal ovulation and fertility challenges.

PESA – Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration – a procedure to surgically remove sperm from the epididymis for men who have no sperm count in their ejaculate (often due to an obstruction) or have had a vasectomy. Aspirated sperm can then be used to fertilize eggs via ICSI. 

PGT – Preimplantation Genetic Testing – a biopsy of embryo cells that seeks to identify genetic (PGT-M for Monogenic, single gene disorders) or chromosomal information (PGT-A for Aneuploidy, or abnormal chromosome counts), before an embryo is frozen.

PIO – Progesterone in Oil – an injectable form of medication (progesterone hormone) given during the embryo transfer cycle to support a healthy uterine lining in preparation for implantation.

RE/REI – Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist – a doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility.

RPL – Recurrent Pregnancy Loss – is defined as having at least 2-3 consecutive miscarriages (clinical pregnancy losses) prior to 20 weeks since last menstruation.

SA Semen Analysis – measures the quantity and quality of a man’s semen and sperm. The characteristics (volume, count, motility, concentration, morphology, etc.) of this assessment aid clinicians in determining fertility treatment options.

SHGSonohysterogram – an ultrasound procedure in which saline is injected transcervically into the uterus to allow for evaluation of the uterine cavity. Visualization via this exam is superior to transvaginal scans alone as it is better at detecting uterine issues such as polyps, fibroids, scaring, and structural abnormalities, without the need for X-Ray exposure or the use of dye in an HSG. 

TESE – Testicular Sperm Extraction – a procedure to surgically remove sperm from the testes via a small incision and tissue biopsy. This procedure is for men who have no (or extremely low) sperm count in their ejaculate or have had a vasectomy and a PESA was not successful. Recovered sperm from the testicular tissue can be used to attempt fertilization of eggs via ICSI.

TLB Time to Live Birth the time from a patient’s infertility diagnosis until they achieve a live birth. This is an important metric that your clinical care team strives to minimize by incorporating data-driven insights and leveraging best practices in lab processes and treatment approaches to safely maximize your chances of success. 

VIOLET Personalized egg quality reports for egg-freezing patients that provide images of each of your frozen eggs, predictions of each egg’s probability of becoming a blastocyst, and an overall prediction of your chance of having a baby from the group of eggs that you’ve frozen.

In addition to the medical terms, the fertility community has dubbed other casual lingo that you may come across in support groups, on social media, and in conversations with others going through similar experiences. From “Aunt Flo” to “Pee on a Stick,” these phrases can make the fertility journey feel a bit more relatable and less clinical, so we want to decode some of these popular expressions to help you feel like part of the fertility tribe.

AF – Aunt Flo, your menstrual cycle.

BD – Baby Dance – intercourse on your most fertile day in hopes of achieving pregnancy.

BFP – Big Fat Positive – positive pregnancy test result.

BFN – Big Fat Negative – negative pregnancy test result.

BV/BD– Baby Vibes or Baby Dust – sending best wishes or good luck to someone on their fertility journey.

CB – Cycle Buddy – a friend or supporter on a similar treatment cycle timeline that you can share your experiences with.

DPO – Days Past Ovulation – the number of days since you ovulated; 4DPO is four days since ovulation.

DPT – Days Past Transfer – the number of days since an embryo transfer. It may feel like you are decoding a secret password when you read something like 7DP5DT – that example translates to 7 days past a 5-day transfer, meaning that one week has passed since the transfer of a day 5 embryo (blastocyst) into the uterus.

Frostie – an affectionate term for frozen embryos.

HPT – Home Pregnancy Test – a test that detects the pregnancy hormone hCG in urine.

MF – Male Factor – the term used when a cause of infertility is based on a male partner. Male infertility can be caused by several factors.

POAS – Pee on a Stick – taking a home pregnancy test.

PUPA – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise – adopting a positive mindset after an embryo transfer, during the TWW.

Pineapples – the pineapple is an icon of hope for fertility patients, reminding them they are tough on the outside, sweet on the inside, stand tall when facing challenges, and are worthy of a crown. Pineapples also contain the enzyme bromelain, which some superstitions say helps with implantation due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Rainbow Baby – term used for a baby born to a family that has experienced a previous pregnancy loss.

Stims – injectable fertility drugs used to stimulate your ovaries to grow for fertility treatments.

TTC – Trying to Conceive – a term used when an individual or couple are actively attempting to achieve pregnancy.

TWW (or 2WW) – Two Week Wait – (what feels like the LONGEST!) time period between implantation and the earliest you can take a pregnancy test for the results of the Beta to detect a positive. 


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