Going through fertility treatments, or starting to read up about what this will mean for you, can be a bit of a shock – there are so many terms and abbreviations, both medical and what we’d like to call “fertility slang”. With our new Bonzun Fertictionary we are trying to clear the fog a bit!
Going through fertility treatments or starting to read up about what this will mean for you can be a bit of a shock – there are so many terms and abbreviations, both medical and what we´d like to call “fertility slang”. So, we want to help all new and current TTC warriors with our new super Fertictionary – a dictionary for all expressions and terms concerning fertility. We have tried to explain everything in a simple way and we hope this fertictionay will help to clear the fog a bit!!
AFC (Antral follicle count) – This is a test of your ovarian reserve done through a transvaginal ultrasound; your physician visually counts the number of egg-containing follicles that are developing on both of your ovaries. It’s usually tested before fertility treatment and again at a point or points in the cycle.
ALICE (Analysis of Infectious Chronic Endometritis) – The TRIO; EMMA, ALICE and ERA, are elected tests done on patients (usually with one or more failed embryo transfer) for more complete endometrial assessment.
Amenorrhea – This is when you do not get your period. This can be both if you are a young woman/girl of 16 (primary amenorrhea) and have not yet had your period, or if a period begins to be absent (secondary amenorrhea). One should not be nervous about one or two missed periods. Secondary amenorrhea is defined as missed periods of at least 3 months in a woman with regular periods or a minimum of 6 months in a woman who has previously had irregular periods.
AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone) – A hormone that is often used to test (by bloodwork) the ovarian reserve, aka the number of eggs a woman may have in the ovaries. A high AMH value is a sign of many follicles in the ovary and a young biological age, whereas a low value means an older biological age and less egg reserve. A very high AMH value may indicate PCOS.
Andropause – The male equivalent of female’s menopause. Starting from around 30 years of age, testosterone levels fall by approx. 1% per year and this change can manifest itself as a loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other physical and emotional symptoms.
Angel Baby – A baby that has been lost to stillbirth, miscarriage, or neonatal death
ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) – A name covering the procedures done to treat infertility. This includes fertility treatments that handle both a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm. In general terms, it works by removing eggs from a woman’s body which are mixed with sperm to make embryos. The embryos are then put back in the woman’s body. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common and effective type of ART.
Assisted hatching – A technique sometimes used in fertility treatments. It is a process where a laser ‘cuts’ a small opening in the fertilized egg from the freezer, to help the egg to come out of its shell and get stuck more easily. Whether it has a real effect is very different from researcher to researcher.
Azoospermia – When there is no measurable sperm in a man’s semen or ejaculate. This can be either obstructive or non-obstructive azoospermia which has different causes.
BBT (Basal Body Temperature) – Your body’s temprature. A change in BBT may be a sign of ovulation.
BD or Baby Dance – This refers to having sex to try and make a baby.
Beta – A blood test for pregnancy, after the ‘2 week wait’ post ovulation, IUI and/or embryo transfer.
BFN (Big Fat Negative Pregnancy Test) – A blood test result that says you are not pregnant at this moment.
BFP (Big Fat Positive Pregnancy Test) – A blood test that confirms you are pregnant right now.
Birth control or contraceptive – are available in various forms. Most forms of the available contraceptions protect against unwanted pregnancy but only the condom protects against sexually transmitted diseases.
BOB – Baby On the Brain or Baby Obsessed Brain
BTO (Bilateral Tubal Obstruction) – This is when both fallopian tubes are obstructed (blocked).
CD (Cycle Day) – A day of your period, calculated since CD1 = Cycle Day 1, which is the first day of your regular period (not spotting).
Cervix – The lower narrow part of the uterus, which connects to the upper part of the vagina.
Contraceptive diaphragm or cap – A circular dome made of thin, soft silicone that’s inserted into the vagina before sex and covers the cervix, which prevents sperm from reaching it. Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Contraceptive implants – Long-term birth control option for women. A small flexible plastic rod about the size of a matchstick that is placed under the skin of the upper arm. Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Contraceptive patch – A method of contraception and is put on the arm, usually changed weekly, from where it releases hormones into the body which prevents a pregnancy. Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Contraceptive pill – Known as birth control pill or simply “the pill” is a type of birth control that is designed to be taken orally by women. Usually a combination of hormones that prevents ovulation. Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
DET (Double Embryo Transfer) – This is when two embryos are inserted into the uterus instead of one.
DOR (Diminished Ovarian Reserve) – Refers to the reproductive potential left within a woman’s two ovaries based on number and quality of eggs. So fewer eggs and/or with less quality available than desired in order to get pregnant either naturally or through IUI or IVF. You can have DOR at any age.
DPT (Days Post Transfer) – The number of days since the embryos were transferred to the uterus.
Ectopic pregnancy – When a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to save the pregnancy. It usually must be removed using medicine or an operation.
Egg cell – The largest cell in a woman’s body and also knows as ovum or gamete. A woman is born with the eggs she will have so from birth onwards she will not produce any more; in fact the number of eggs will steadily decline over her lifetime.
Egg donation – The opportunity to donate eggs to other women and couples going through fertility treatments.
Egg freezing – If you have eggs taken out and they are of high quality, these can be frozen down to -196 degrees or about -320º Fahrenheit and preserved for later use. When the time comes a frozen egg can be thawed, combined with sperm in a lab and implanted in your uterus (in vitro fertilization).
Egg retrieval (ER) – A surgical procedure done to remove the egg(s) from a woman’s ovaries, mainly done for undergoing egg freezing or fertility treatments.
EMMA (Endometrial Microbiome Metagenomic Analysis) – The EMMA, ALICE and ERA are tests done usually on patients with one or more failed embryo transfer for a more complete endometrial assessment.
EMU (Early Morning Urine) – Since your hormones accumulate in your urine overnight, it is advisable to take for example ovulation tests with the first morning urine. Same as FMU.
Endometriosis – Growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus such as in the fallopian tubes, ovaries and in the bowels. It may affect fertility.
EPT (Early Pregnancy Test) – Testing for pregnancy at home, using a pregnancy stick or strip, before the scheduled blood test and before the recommended two week wait when going through a fertility treatment.
ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Analysis) – It’s a test to find the optimal time for embryo transfer. This test is usually recommended if you´ve had multiple failed embryo transfers, among other criteria, to check if the medication dosage and timing is optimal.
ET (Embryo transfer) – A procedure where the embryos are transferred vaginally into the uterus.
Fallopian tube – One of two long, slender tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus. Eggs pass from the ovaries, through the fallopian tubes, to the uterus. If you have lost one of your fallopian tubes, as long as you’re ovulating regularly, there is no reason that the loss of one tube would impact your ability to conceive as long as all of the other fertility factors are healthy as well.
Fertility – Refers to the ability to have children or to reproduce.
FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) – When embryos are frozen prior to transfer into a woman’s uterus. The embryos remain safe and stable in the frozen state for weeks to years. At transfer day the embryos are thawed and transferred to the uterus.
FMU (First morning urine) – Since your hormones accumulate in your urine overnight, it is advisable to take for example ovulation tests with the first morning urine. Same as EMU.
Follicles – small sacs of fluid found in the ovaries and contain a developing egg. The follicles act as a kind of helper to mature the egg.
Freezing of semen – or semen cryopreservation is the process of collecting, analyzing, freezing and storing a man’s sperm. The sperm is frozen at a temperature of -196 degrees or about -320 Fahrenheit. When the time comes, the sperm is thawed, washed, and tested for mobility prior to use in for example IUI or IVF.
FSH or R-FSH ((Recombinant) Follicle Stimulating Hormone) – helps control the menstrual cycle and stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries. The levels of FSH varies throughout the menstrual cycle and the levels increase just before an egg is released by the ovary. If the FSH levels are increased this means you have a reduced number of follicles or eggs, if the levels are decreased the ovarian function is reduced which means that the ovarian follicles do not grow properly and do not release an egg.
GP (General Practitioner) – A family doctor. Usually you need a referral from a GP to get into a fertility clinic.
HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin) – A hormone that stimulates the ovaries and helps the eggs to mature and be released into the ovarian tubes and then into the uterus. Increased hCG levels is one of the earliest signs of a pregnancy which can be measured in both urine and blood.
HPT (Home pregnancy test) – A home pregnancy test that can be purchased in pharmacies over the counter. You’re likely to get more accurate results of your home pregnancy test if you wait until after the first day of your missed period. Shortly after a fertilized egg attaches to your uterine lining (implantation), the placenta forms and produces the hormone HCG (see HCG) and it enters your bloodstream and urine. During early pregnancy, the HCG concentration increases rapidly, doubling every two to three days. The earlier you take the home pregnancy test, the harder it might be for the test to detect HCG. So it is better to wait to get accurate results but this can be very hard to do.
Hormone-spiral – Contraceptives for women that contain only progestogens.
HSG (Hysterosalpingography) – A X-ray test to outline the internal shape of the uterus and show whether the fallopian tubes are blocked. This type of examination, or a HyCoSy, is typically performed in connection with the investigation before starting fertility treatments.
HyCoSy (Hysterosalpingo Contrast Sonography) – An ultrasound examination of the uterus and the fallopian tubes (instead of using x-ray as with HSG). In order to become pregnant, there must be a passage through at least one of the fallopian tubes.
Insemination – When a man’s semen is inseminated into a woman’s uterus. The donor can be a partner, a known donor or an anonymous donor. Can be performed at home or in a clinic.
ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) – A type of IVF treatment where one sperm cell is microinseminated into the egg, and sperm of good quality has been selected. There may be several reasons for ICSI treatment but often it is offered, for example, if the man has greatly reduced sperm quality or that you have previously tried IVF but failed to fertilize the eggs.
IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection) – It’s similar to ICSI but in the process magnifies the sperm by about 6000 to choose the sperm for use. In ICSI the sample is usually magnified between 200 and 400. IMSI is often used with severe male factor sperm issues.
ICI (Intracervical Insemination) – A vaginal insemination, where the donor sperm is placed high in the vagina, close to the cervix. CI donor sperm is unwashed, unpurified sperm that contains all the naturally occurring ejaculate fluids.
IUI (Intra-uterine insemination) – Usually referred to as just insemination, the donor sperm is inseminated directly into the uterus for the purpose of trying to get pregnant. IUI donor sperm is washed and purified sperm which has been prepared in a laboratory.
IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) – This means that the fertilization occurs in a lab rather than in the woman’s body. Here, an egg is placed in a petri dish and sperm are laid down with the egg in the hope that one of them will fertilize the egg.
Laparoscopy (LAP) – A surgical procedure done through a small hole (incision) in the belly, to investigate the inside and, if applicable to attempt to treat endometriosis. Laparoscopy is the most common procedure used to diagnose and remove mild to moderate endometriosis.
LH (Luteinizing Hormone) – LH helps control the menstrual cycle and it also triggers the release of an egg from the ovary. When the LH level increases it is a signal that ovulation is about to start.
Long protocol – The longer of the two hormone treatment courses prior to IVF or ICSI, also known as conventional IVF. The long protocol has a much longer duration, around 4-6 weeks. This typically involves daily injections of a medication to ‘switch off’ your own ovarian function, followed by ovarian stimulation with follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and finally egg collection.
Menopause – When a woman stops menstruating, often this happens naturally sometimes after the age of 45 unless there are other underlying issues causing an early menopause . The menopausal transition usually starts some years before the woman’s last menstruation, periods start to become irregular along with other symptoms such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, pain during sex, moodiness and irritability, depression, or a combination of these symptoms. Men can also experience menopause, more information under andropause.
MF / MFI (Male factor (infertility)) – Issues with the sperm count or quality and would not be able to get a fertile person with ovaries pregnant, without fertility interventions. This term can be problematic since not all people with sperm are male.
MMC (Missed miscarriage) – A miscarriage that was undiagnosed for a certain amount of time.
Morula – An early-stage embryo, consisting of 16 cells called blastomeres.
Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN) – A physician who specializes in pregnancy and female (people with ovaries) reproductive health and sometimes also specializes in the health of a fetus or unborn baby.
Oligo (oligomenorrhea) – This is when the menstrual cycle is more than 35 days. If your menstrual cycle is not working properly, you may have trouble becoming pregnant. You may develop this condition as a side effect of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Ovarian Stimulation – The second stage of IVF fertility treatment. The goal is to harvest as many mature eggs as possible from the woman’s ovaries, during this time you take the medications that often are referred to as “stims”.
Ovary – One of a pair of female glands that produces, stores and matures eggs, after which they migrate through the fallopian tube down to the uterus. It is also the organ that produces the female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen.
Overstimulation or OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) – An excessive response to taking the medicines (especially injectable gonadotropins) used to make eggs grow and it is one of the most significant side effects of hormone stimulation in conjunction with fertility treatment. Overstimulation means you have a large number of growing follicles along with high estradiol levels. This leads to fluid leaking into the abdomen (belly), which can cause bloating, nausea, and swelling of the abdomen. OHSS can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. One out of three women has symptoms of mild OHSS during controlled ovarian stimulation.
Ovulation – The release of an egg from your ovary, into your fallopian tube. When the egg is released, it may or may not be fertilized by sperm. If fertilized, the egg may travel to the uterus and implant to develop into a pregnancy. If left unfertilized, the egg disintegrates and the uterine lining is shed during your period. Ovulations usually occurs 13-15 days after the first day of menstruation, but it varies considerably from woman to woman.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) – A condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, male sex hormones, that are usually present in women in small amounts. People with this syndrome therefor have higher than normal levels of this hormone and this can often lead to decreased fertility or infertility.
PESA (Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration) – Surgical removal of sperm from the testicles or epididymis, reasons for doing this can due to be prior vasectomy or infection
PGD (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis) – A procedure that allows couples with a hereditary genetic condition to significantly reduce the risk of passing it onto their children. PGD testing is utilized during an in vitro fertilization or IVF cycle.
PGT-A or PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy or Preimplantation Genetic Screening) – Genetic testing done on embryos, through a biopsy, to understand the chromosomal status of IVF embryos by screening all 23 pairs of human chromosomes. Only embryos with the correct number of chromosomes will be able to implant and develop into a healthy baby.
Pineapple – a symbol for women dealing with infertility and also a way for friends and family to show their support. The pineapple serves as an emblem of a fertility journey as well as a symbol to break the silence of infertility and normalize it.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) – Describes the physical and mental symptoms that some women experience in the days leading up to their expected menstruation. For some it can be almost disabling, others do not notice it at all.
POAS – Pee On A Stick.
Polyp – An outgrowth of tissue you can get for instance on the cervical canal, which may cause irregular bleeding. Cervical polyps are fairly common and, in most cases, benign (not cancerous).
Pregnancy (gestation) – Occurs when an egg is fertilized with sperm from a man, and it then gets stuck in the lining of the uterus.
Primary infertility – Refers to not being able to get pregnant after trying for at least one year. Difficulty to conceive or infertility is common, numbers vary, and data on this refers to couples and around 15% of couples have difficulty conceiving. There are many causes of infertility. In men, it means problems with sperm quality or delivery. In women, it can be due to conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids that damage the reproductive organs, or problems ovulating due to conditions such as PCOS or an untreated thyroid issue, which can lead to lower levels of the hormone progesterone, irregular periods or ovulation difficulties to mention the most common.
Priming – Priming of the endometrium is a procedure for making the endometrium ready to receive the egg. The effect of the method is much debated and is done by careful and superficial scraping with a small plastic tube about a week before the expected menstruation cycle before the transfer.
Progesterone – One of the female sex hormones which helps to regulate the menstrual cycle but its main job is to prepare the uterus for pregnancy after a ovulation occurs.
PUPO – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.
Rainbow baby – A baby born following a miscarriage. The name comes from that a rainbow baby represents the hope after a storm.
Reproductive Endocronolgist (RE) – A physician who is a fertility specialist, who has specialized training focused solely on helping people become and stay pregnant.
RPL (Recurrent Pregnancy Loss) – People getting pregnant but loosing their pregnancy in the first trimester or early second trimester.
SAAF (Stay Away Aunt Flo) – Aunt Flo is the period, and while trying to get pregnant one of the most unwished-for body functions.
Scanning – Performed repeatedly internally through the vagina with a long scanner in conjunction with fertility treatment. You scan, for example, to see the number of follicles, to measure the thickness of the uterine lining, or when to take eggs out or lay eggs. An early pregnancy scan will also be done inside, where you first start scanning the outside of the abdomen around the 11-12 weeks.
Secondary infertility – This means that you’ve been pregnant before but are having trouble getting pregnant again. The causes of secondary infertility are often the same as for primary infertility
Sex hormones – There are two main sex hormones, estrogen (mainly female) and testosterone (mainly male) and both sexes have both types, however to a greater or lesser degree depending on their sex. It is the sex hormones that give the general female and male features such as beard, breasts, hair under the arms and more.
Short protocol – The shorter of the two hormone treatment courses prior to IVF or ICSI. The short protocol usually means that a few days after the first day of menstruation, you are scanned at the clinic and then starting hormone treatment to stimulate the ovaries for approx. 5-9 days before egg collection.
SMEAR test – Also called pap smear is a cervical screening which checks the health of your cervix. The procedure consists of a small scrape around the cervix, via your vagina, to collect a sample to see if you have cell changes which may be a precursor to cervical cancer. Usually done in women from around the age of 25-30 (depending on what country you are in)
Social freezing – This is a term used when healthy, fertile women choose to have eggs taken out and frozen for later use in order to protect and prolong their fertile age. Social freezing is really a preventive medical treatment rather than a non-medical treatment, and the term social freezing can sound judgemental to those women who undertake such preventive action.
Sperm – The male reproductive cell (gamete) which is re-formed every three months in the male testicles.
Sperm bank – A place that collects, processes, stores and distributes sperm from sperm donors for use in fertility treatment.
Sperm quality – This can vary through a man’s life and there are three components that matters for a man’s fertility: Quantity, movement and shape. Sperm quantity or sperm count, normal sperm densities range from 15 million to greater than 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen. You are considered to have a low sperm count if you have fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter or less than 39 million sperm total per ejaculate. Sperm movement or motility, about 60-80% of sperms should be actively moving. Sperm shape or morphology, about 70% to 90% should be normally shaped.
Spotting – Light bleeding from the vagina between periods. Spotting is quite normal and can occur due to pregnancy, hormonal contraception, infection, hormonal issues to mention a few.
Stims – Short for stimulation and slang word for the medication to grow follicles, normally during stims you’ll take medication for eight to 14 days to encourage the follicles in your ovaries (where the eggs grow) to produce more eggs.
Sterilization – A permanent method of birth control. Sterilization is a surgical procedure in which a man’s spermatic cord is blocked / cut over (vasectomy), or in a woman in which the fallopian tubes are blocked / cut (tubal ligation).
Surrogate mother – A woman who carries and gives birth to one child for another. The rules and regulations for surrogacy varies greatly between countries and in some it must be done completely altruistic, and no compensation may take place, and in some you compensate the surrogate (more common). There may be many different reasons why you may need a surrogate, for example, you do not have a uterus, or if a man wants to be a single father or two men want to be fathers together.
TESA (testicular sperm aspiration) – This is when you use a needle to extract the semen directly from the man’s scrotum. TESA is used for example in azoospermia when there are no live sperm in a sperm sample or the man is sterilized.
Testicles – Also known as testis are the male reproductive glands, they are two oval-shaped organs located inside the scrotum. Here, sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone are produced. The epididymis is a tube that moves sperm from the testicles and this is also where the sperm is stored.
Thrombosis – The medical term for blood clots. Thrombosis occurs when blood clots block veins or arteries.
Thyroid disorders – Can affect fertility or the ability to conceive. Thyroid hormones are vital for the proper functioning of the female reproductive system, since they modulate the metabolism and development of ovarian, uterine, and placental tissues. Therefore, hypo- and hyperthyroidism may result in subfertility or infertility.
TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) – A hormone produced in the pituitary gland and too high or low levels may affect your fertility. A high TSH suggests your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroid) and not doing its job of producing enough thyroid hormone. A low TSH suggests your thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroid) and producing excess thyroid hormone. See thyroid disorders.
TTC (Trying to Conceive) – Trying to get pregnant in order to have a baby or babies.
TTC Warrior – A common term to describe all people who are fighting and facing the struggles of trying to get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments. There are many strong communities around the world where TTC warriors share their experiences, ask questions, and find support and comfort in each other.
Tubal Reversal (TR) – When a person with ovaries has had their fallopian tubes tied to prevent pregnancy and has the procedure to undue the ‘tie’ to hopefully return to being able to conceive again.
TWW or 2WW (Two Week Wait) – Also known as one of the most stressful parts of a fertility treatment, the wait to see if the insemination or transfer has been successful. After ovulation, you’re entering the luteal phase of your cycle or as many who are trying to conceive like to call it: The Two Week Wait. It has this name because about two weeks after ovulation you either get your period and a new cycle starts, or your period doesn’t occur which can often be a strong indicator of pregnancy.
Uterus – Also known as the womb is a muscular organ and the part of the female reproductive system in which a baby grows. It is above the vagina, between the bladder and rectum. It is about 7 cm long and 5 cm across at the widest point. The uterus can grow from fist size to be able to contain and carry a baby – and then contract again after birth.
Vaginal ring – A type of contraceptive, a small soft, rubber ring that you place inside your vagina. It works in the same way as birth control pills by continuously releasing hormones to prevent pregnancy. Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.