Infertility Terminology

One of the most confusing things while going down the road of infertility is learning all the abbreviations, terminology and medical tests and procedures that are involved. I have come across many blogs where there was so many abbreviations it was like reading a different language. This page is meant to be a resource to decode the language of infertility. There are new terms and abbreviations popping up everyday so if I have missed one or you think one should be added please comment below!

  • Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) = a protein that serves as a molecular biomarker for relative size of the ovarian reserve
  • Antral follicle count (AFC) = the number of resting follicles in both ovaries. The number is used to determine poor ovarian reserve and predict outcome of ovarian stimulation.
  • ART = Assisted Reproductive Technology
  • Azoospermia = a medical condition of a man having any measurable level of sperm in his semen. It affect about 1% of the male population and may be seen in up to 20% of male infertility situations
  • Basal body temperature = the lowest body temperature attained during rest. Ovulation cases an increase of one-half degree to one degree Fahrenheit.
  • Blastocyst = a structure formed about 5 days past fertilization. In IVF, transferring a blastocyst can result in a more viable pregnancy and successful live birth.
  • Catheter = a thin tube that can be inserted in the body to treat diseases or perform a surgical procedure
  • Clomid = a commonly prescribed meication to induce ovulation in females. In males it has been found as a very effective treatment of secondary male hypogonadism and is preferred treatment to testosterone replacement therapy
  • Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation = a technique used in assisted reproduction involving the use of fertility medications to induce ovulation by multiple ovarian follicles
  • Corpus luteum = a temporary structure in the ovary that produces high levels of progesterone and estradiol to support the pregnancy until placenta is formed
  • DH = Dear Husband
  • Ectopic pregnancy = when an egg implants itself outside the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube or ovary
  • Egg donation = the process by which a woman donates eggs for purposes of assisted reproduction
  • Egg retrieval or Transvaginal oocyte retrieval = a procedure under sedation where eggs are collected via a needle through the back wall of the vagina under guidance of transvaginal ultrasound
  • Embryo freezing (Embryo Cryopreservation) = the process of preserving an embryo at sub-zero temperatures
  • Embryo = the earliest stage of human development, generally considered to be between the first and eighth week of development after fertilization.
  • Embryo culture = component of IVF where embryos are allowed to grow for sometime in an artifical medium before being transferred into the uterus
  • Embryo donation = the giving—generally without compensation—of embryos remaining after one couple’s IVF to another person or couple for implantation
  • Embryo transfer = a procedure to place the embryo(s) into the woman’s uterus using a catheter guided via ultrasound
  • Endometriosis = a medical condition involving uterine tissue being located outside the uterus, such as in the abdominal cavity
  • Estradiol = primary female sex hormone and is essential for the development and maintenance of female reproductive tissues.
  • Fertility medications = drugs given to enhance reproductive fertility. They are mainly used to stimulate follice development of the ovary.
  • Fertility tourism or Reproductive tourism = the practice of traveling to another country for fertility treatments. Reasons could include legal prohibitions or regulation of the sought procedure in the home country and lower costs in destination country.
  • Final maturation induction = part of controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. Involves a “trigger shot” of HCG or LH to cause the eggs to finish developing and prepare for ovulation. In IVF cycles, the “trigger shot” is given exactly 36 hours prior to egg retrieval. This is timed exactly to allow the eggs to fully mature however provide the doctors time to retrieve the eggs before they are ovulated.
  • Follicle = a structure in the ovaries that contains a developing egg
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) = a hormone found in humand and other animals that is synthesized and secreted by gonadotrophs of the anterior pituary gland. It regulated the development, growtn, pubertal maturation and reproductive processes of the body
  • Follicular fluid = liquid which fills the follicle and surrounds the egg in the ovarian follicle
  • Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) = a FET cycle involves preparing the uterine lining for pregnancy, then thawing the frozen embryo and transferring into the uterus via catheter. FET show to have similar success rates as fresh transfers however statistics vary by clinic.
  • Fundus = top portion of the uterus opposite the cervix
  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) = similar to ZIFT, however the eggs are mixed with sperm and transferred back before fertilization can occur, therefore fertilization occurs within the fallopian tubes
  • Ganirelix = GnRH antagonist used in fertility treatment to prevent premature ovulation that could result in the harvesting of eggs that are too immature to be used in procedures such as IVF
  • Gestational carrier (Surrogacy) = a woman who has agreed to carry a baby to term for another person and is genetically unrelated to the embryo
  • Gonadotropin = a classification of protein hormones including FSH, LH and HCG.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) = hormone responsible for releasing FSH and LH from the anterior pituitary
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH agonist) = used to suppress spontaneous ovulation in order to controll ovarian hyperstimulation during IVF
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) = hormone produced during pregnancy
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) = a radiologic procedure to investigate the shape of the uterine cavity and the shape and patency of the fallopian tubes
  • In vitro fertilization = a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. In vitro means “in glass”.
  • Infertility = the inability to reproduce by natural means
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) = a procedure used in IVF where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg
  • Intramuscular injection = injection administered directly into the muscle
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI) = the deliberate introduction of sperm via catheter into a female’s uterus or cervix (ICI) for the purpose of achieving pregnancy. The procedure may or may not involve fertility medications to stimulate ovulation.
  • Laparoscopy = an operation performed in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions
  • Lupron (leuprolide acetate) = used to control ovarian stimulation in IVF
  • Luteal support = the use of medication to increase the success rate of implantation by complementing and/or supporting the function of the corpus luteum
  • Lutenizing hormone (LH) = hormone that triggers ovulation in females and stimulates testosterone production in males
  • Male infertility/Male Factor Infertility (MFI) = affects approximately 7% of all man and is commonly due to deficiencies in semen. Can be caused by pre-testicular causes (such as obesity, drugs, genetic abnormalities, tobacco smoking and DNA damage), testicular factors (such as genetic defects on Y chromosone, Klinefelter syndrome, varicocele, malaria and testicular cancer) and post-testicular factors (such as retrograde ejaculation, infection, vas deferens obstruction and impotence).
  • Menopur = used to stimulate ovaries to mature follicles and administered by typically daily injection, intramuscularly or subcutaneously, for about ten days
  • Oocyte = an immature ovum, or egg cell, produced in the ovary
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) = a medical condition affecting the ovaries of some women who take fertility medication to stimulate egg growth
  • Ovulation suppression = process during ovarian stimulation where medications (typically Lupron, Ganirelix or Cetrotide) are used to inhibit spontaneous ovulation
  • Progesterone = steriod hormone that is crucial for implantation and viable pregnancy
  • Semen = also known as seminal fluid, is an organic fluid that may contain sperm
  • Semen analysis = evaluates certain characterists of a male’s semen and sperm
  • Sperm count = the concentration of sperm in a man’s ejaculate
  • Sperm donation = the process by which a man donates sperm for purposes of assisted reproduction
  • Sperm motility = the ability of sperm to move properly through the female reproductive tract or through water to reach the egg
  • Subcutaneous injection = injection administered under the skin
  • Transvaginal ultrasonography = uses a transducer inserted into the vagina to visualize organs in pelvic cavity
  • TTC = trying to concieve
  • Varicocele = an abnormal enlargement of veins in the scrotum. It is known as one of the main causes for male infertility and can be teated by a surgery or non-surgical treatments
  • Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) = a fertility treatment used when a blockage in the fallopian tubes prevents sperm from meeting egg. Similar to IVF, however embryos are placed into fallopian tubes via laproscope instead of into the uterus via catheter.

One response to “Infertility Terminology

  1. Pingback: What They Don’t Tell You About IVF: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly | Maybe Baby...

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