Fertility terms and abbreviations

If you catch yourself saying ‘What does that fertility word mean? What’s that acronym?’ then keep reading to see if the definition is here. I’ve tried to explain in very simple language to get you started. (Psst, don’t forget that I’m not a healthcare provider. I’m just interpreting from a patient perspective Always consult your healthcare team for clinical input.)


AFC – Antral Follicle Count – This is a test of ovarian reserve done through a transvaginal ultrasound. It can indicate how many follicles you have in your ovaries that may be stimulated with fertility treatment.

ALICE – Analysis of Infectious Chronic Endometritis – The TRIOs, EMMA and ALICE and ERA, are elected tests done on patients (usually with one or more failed embryo transfers) for more complete endometrial assessment.

ART- Assisted Reproductive Technology – This is a broad way of talking about any kind of assistance in getting you pregnant. ART is the umbrella term that IVF and IUI fall under.

Assisted Hatching – In IVF this is an addition step that some couples take that may give the blastocyst some extra assistance in getting to the point you can move to implantation. It’s usually not done for a first round and usually in specific cases.

AMH – Anti-Mullerian Hormone – A hormone often tested (by bloodwork) for ovarian reserve, aka the number of eggs a person with ovaries may have. As this hormone levels go down, it’s telling us your egg count has declined. This does not tell us egg quality.


BD – Baby Dance. This refers to having sex to try and make a baby.

Blastocyst – In IVF, it’s the stage the embryo that is created from an egg retrieval or donation and insemination done with the sperm and developed to the point it is often ready for freezing or implantation.

BBT – Basal Body Temperature – Your body’s temperature. A change in BBT may be a sign of ovulation.

Beta – 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. The blood test is also called the beta test. I’m sorry if you’re familiar with this one!

BFP – Big Pat Positive Pregnancy Test – A blood test that confirms you are pregnant right now. The blood test is also called the beta test.

BC(P) – Birth Control (Pills) – Oral medicine that controls your hormones to, most often, prevent pregnancy but also can be used as part of the medicine or protocol in IUI or IVF.

BTO – Bilateral Tubal Obstruction – When both fallopian tubes are obstructed.


CD – Cycle Day – A day of your period, calculated since CD1 = Cycle Day1, which is the start of your regular period (not spotting). If it starts after about 5pm then the next day is usually considered CD1.


DET – Double Embryo Transfer – At embryo transfer, two embryos are inserted into the uterus instead of one.

DOR – Diminished Ovarian Reserve – Fewer eggs available to you than you would like to be able to be successful to get pregnant either naturally or through IUI or IVF. You can have DOR at any age. That’s why egg count and quality matter way more than age.

DPT – Days Post-Transfer – The number of days since the embryos were transferred to the uterus.


Endometriosis – Growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus such as in the fallopian tubes, ovaries and in the bowels. It’s becoming more and more understood. It may affect fertility.

ER – Egg retrieval – In the IVF process, the procedure where eggs are removed vaginally (usually) from the follicles. It’s often not done with general anaesthetic and often takes approximately 15-30 minutes.

EMMA – Endometrial Microbiome Metagenomic Analysis – The EMMA and ALICE and ERA are tests done usually on patients with one or more failed embryo transfers for more complete endometrial assessment.

ERA – Endometrial Receptivity Analysis – It’s an add-on test in IVF for candidates who are to have their first or had one or 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.

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.


Fibroid – Abnormal growth that forms within or on a uterus. Sometimes requires removing before starting fertility treatment like IVF or before implantation. It can sound scary but isn’t very uncommon.

FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer – Going through the egg retrieval part of IVF and then freezing the embryo after they have made it to the desired stage (usually blastocyst) whereby they are thawed and transferred to the uterus at a later date.

FSH – Follicle Stimulating Hormone – A hormone often tested for ovarian reserve, aka the number of eggs a person with ovaries has.


GP – General Practitioner – A family doctor. Usually you need a referral from a GP to get into a fertility clinic.

Gynaecologist – A physician / doctor who specializes in the reproduction (think vagina and inwards).


HCG – Human Chorionic Gonadotropin – A pregnancy hormone tested using blood (most effective) or through the urine using a home pregnancy test. It’s also the hormone in the drug that’s used to trigger release of the eggs in IVF.

HSG – Hysterosalpingogram –  An x-ray taken to explore the fallopian tubes and uterus.

HPT – Home pregnancy test.


ICSI (Microfertilization) Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – An optional step in the IVF process of fertilizing the sperm into the egg that has been proven to increase pregnancy chances in certain scenarios.

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. This is often used with severe male factor / sperm issues.

IP – Intended Parents – If you have a surrogate and they are physically going through pregnancy to bring your babies earth-side.

IUI – Intrauterine Insemination – A range of measures (e.g. various medicine taking in the lead up to the IUI) taken that ends in a transfer of semen through the cervix for the purpose of trying to get pregnant.

IVF – In Vitro Fertilization – The cycle of preparing for and taking medicine that increases the number of mature eggs a woman/person with ovaries has available, to then have the eggs retrieved vaginally, ‘mix with sperm’ to create embryos, and to eventually have them transferred to theirs or someone else’s uterus for the purpose of pregnancy.



LAP – Laparoscopy – A surgical procedure done through a very small hole or whole through the belly, to investigate inside and, if applicable, to attempt to undo endometriosis.

Low Sperm Count – After sperm analysis and it appears semen has less than normal numbers according to what is considered in the range of normal for that context.


MC – Miscarriage – The embryo is no longer viable and will either naturally abort or require assistance through medication or  a procedure to leave the body (vaginally).

MMC – Missed miscarriage – A miscarriage was undiagnosed for a certain amount of time.

MFI / MF – Male factor (infertility)-  There are issues with the sperm volume or quality and would not be able to get a fertile person with ovaries pregnant without fertility interventions.



OHSS – Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome – In the process of IVF, the medicine taken has lead to the ovaries being enlarged and retain liquid that leads to a range of symptoms and may require treatment. It can be mild to severe.

OB/GYN – Obstetrician/Gynaecologist – A doctor / physician who specializes in reproductive health of people with ovaries and sometimes specializes also in the health of a fetus or unborn baby.


PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – People with this syndrome have higher than normal levels of a hormone and can often lead to decreased fertility or infertility.

PGD — See PGTM/PGTSR below.

PGS — See below.

PGTA  (PGS is the old term no longer used) – Testing done on embryos, through a biopsy, to understand the chromosomal make-up and whether there are 46, the normal number.

PGTM/PGTSR (PGD is the older term no longer used) – Testing done on embryos through embryo biopsy for testing genetics / a range of issues.

PICSI – Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – Is an added step in ICSI (sort of) where the embryologist selects specific type of sperm (HB) for ICSI. This is often opted for when there have been failed regular ICSI, man/sperm carrier is Oligozoospermic, and/or male factor infertility due at least in part to DNA fragmentation.

PIO – Progesterone in oil injections – An injection commonly taken in the lead up to an embryo transfer and continued after a successful pregnancy test for a set period of time. Given in the bum, my dear. Sometimes it can be done in the thigh.

Primary Infertility — A woman or couple has yet to become pregnant after trying for a set period of time (6 months for women 35+ and 1 year is under 35 years of age) without fertility treatment or interventions.  There are exceptions to that rule.

PUPO — Pregnant until proven otherwise.


RE – Reproductive Endocronolgist –  A doctor/ physician who is a fertility specialist.

REI- Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility – The area of medicine that is related to getting pregnant when you’re infertile or require testing and potential medical assistance.

R-FSH – Recombinant Human Follicle Stimulating Hormone – The hormone that’s tested for potential egg numbers available for extraction in the IVF process.

RPL – Recurrent Pregnancy Loss – People getting pregnant but losing their pregnancy in the first trimester or early second trimester.


SA – Semen Analysis – Process of checking out the quality and volume and other aspects (e.g. motility) of sperm.

Secondary Infertility – When you’ve gotten pregnancy before but cannot get pregnant again without interventions. E.g. You have one child through natural conception but require IUI or IVF for your next child.

SHG – Sonohysterogram – It’s a test to check if fallopian tubes are open, to gather information about the uterus such as if there are polyps or fibroids or if there’s scar tissue. It’s a gush of saline (salty water) that’s injected up through the vagina. In the procedure you’ll want to wear a thick pad after the procedure.

Stims – Stimulation – It’s a slang word for the medication to grow follicles / create the scenario for follicle growth and the potential for more eggs to be released, often for IVF.


TR – Tubal Reversal – 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 fertile.

TRIO – EndomeTRIO – The EMMA and ALICE and ERA are three (ie, the trio of) tests done usually on for someone or a couple after one or more failed embryo transfers in order to get a more complete endometrial assessment.

TTC – Trying to Conceive – Trying to get pregnant in order to have a baby or babies.

TWW / 2WW – Two Week Wait — The time after embryo or semen transfer and before pregnancy is confirmed by a blood test. The number of days varies by clinic. Could be closer to 1 week, could be 14 days.


U/S – Ultrasound – Either a transvaginal check or with some jelly on your belly and a wand used to capture what’s going on inside.


VVFL – Very, Very Faint Line – Using a home pregnancy test, when you can barely see a line that indicates you may be pregnant.




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