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Fertility Acronyms, Explained

January 08, 2021

Whether you are just beginning your fertility journey or you are a current patient who has run across a term or acronym that you haven't encountered before, this IVF terminology quick guide is designed to help you understand the lingo.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)  - Any procedure that involves the removal of eggs from a woman before fertilization, such as in vitro fertilization.

Beta hCG Test (BhCG) - A blood test to determine pregnancy. It gives a positive reading if human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is present in the blood.

Gestational Carrier (GC) - A woman who carries the pregnancy to term but is not the genetic parent of the baby. Also called Gestational Surrogate.

Gonadotropin Release Hormone (GnRH) - A hormone that controls the synthesis and release of the pituitary hormones FSH and LH. GnRH is produced by the hypothalamus.

Human Chronic Gonadotropin (hCG) - A hormone secreted by the placenta that preserves the pregnancy by prolonging the life of the corpus luteum and stimulating progesterone production. A pregnancy test is positive when hCG is detected. It can be administered therapeutically (Pregnyl or Profasi) to help solve some infertility problems.


Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) - An X-ray procedure used to determine whether the fallopian tubes are open and capable of functioning properly. The physician injects dye into the uterus through the cervix. The dye passes through the tubes if they are open. An HSG can also reveal information such as the configuration of the uterus, irregularities, and the presence of fibroids.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) - A laboratory procedure in which a single sperm is directly inserted into an individual egg.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) - The introduction of specially prepared sperm directly into the uterus through the cervix.

Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - A procedure in which one or more eggs, each removed from a ripe follicle, is fertilized by a sperm outside the human body.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) - A hormone that causes the ovary to release a mature egg (ovulation). In the male, LH stimulates testosterone production. LH is secreted by the anterior pituitary. In the female, LH stimulates progesterone production after ovulation has occurred.

Male Factor Infertility (MF) - The condition when a couple's infertility is attributed to the man.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) - A possible side effect of medically induced ovulation, characterized by swollen, painful ovaries and, in some cases, the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen and chest.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) - This commonly diagnosed condition is caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones and can cause a woman to have irregular menstrual periods, excess male hormone levels, or small fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries, all of which can lead to abnormal ovulation. PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - Inflammatory disease of the pelvis, often caused by infection, which can lead to infertility.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) - The procedure used to detect genetic or chromosomal abnormalities on embryos created during an IVF cycle. This is a delicately precise micro-manipulative procedure, in which embryologists remove either necessary DNA from the egg shortly after fertilization (polar body biopsy) or a single cell from a three-day-old embryo (embryo biopsy). 

Reproductive Endocrinologists (RE) - Physicians trained in obstetrics and gynecology who further specialize and are certified to treat infertility with surgical procedures and technologies associated with physician-assisted reproduction.

Semen Analysis (SA) - A microscopic examination of freshly ejaculated semen to evaluate the number of sperm (count), the percentage of moving sperm (motility), and the size and shape of the sperm (morphology).

Secondary Infertility (SI) - The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy after having given birth to one or more children.

Tubal Embryo Transfer (TET) - A surgical procedure in which a fertilized and divided egg is transferred to the fallopian tubes.

Therapeutic Insemination (TI) - A procedure in which sperm from a male partner or a donor (Therapeutic Donor Insemination-TDI) are placed into a woman's vagina or cervix. Also called artificial insemination, but distinct from Intrauterine Insemination.

Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) - The surgical transfer of a zygote, or fertilized egg, into a fallopian tube one day after fertilization.

For a full glossary of fertility terms, click here.
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