As a fertility patient or intended parent, you will encounter a multitude of acronyms while navigating your journey. In the world of infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology, there are so many technical (and also not so technical) terms that have been abbreviated for quicker reference.
This guide includes a rather long list of common acronyms and definitions which you can refer to as you move from one step of your journey to the next. We hope it saves you a little time and stress as you navigate through!
2WW: Two week wait
The period of time between ovulation or fertility treatment and resulting pregnancy test/beta test result. You can read more about the 2WW in this heartfelt personal essay by Erin Bulcao.
AF: Aunt Flo, After Flo, Period, or Menstrual Cycle
ART: Assisted Reproductive Technology
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “ART includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs or embryos are handled [i.e. surrogacy, donor conception, and IVF]. In general, ART procedures involve surgically removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries, combining them with sperm in the laboratory, and returning them to the woman’s body or donating them to another woman. They do NOT include treatments in which only sperm are handled (i.e., intrauterine—or artificial—insemination) or procedures in which a woman takes medicine only to stimulate egg production without the intention of having eggs retrieved.
BBT: Basal Body Temperature
Your temperature rises slightly around the time of ovulation. You can track ovulation by taking your temperature using a basal thermometer every morning before getting out of bed. Charting your temperature will help you learn if ovulation is taking place. You can read more about BBT in this article.
BCP: Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are clearly not a new concept for anyone reading this, but one may not realize how important they are to the fertility journey. They are used to pause the monthly cycle, keeping the follicles and uterine lining at a baseline state prior to beginning IVF. This state is optimal for IVF treatment as it allows for the growth of as many follicles as possible in one cycle. Once you stop birth control pills, you’ll be instructed to self-administer hormone injections which in turn stimulate the growth of the ovarian follicles.
Beta: Beta HcG pregnancy test
This test measures how much hCG a woman has in her blood. hCG is produced by cells surrounding the embryo and is measured 9 – 11 days after an embryo transfer. hCG levels increase every two to three days as your embryo continues to develop, and peaks around the sixth week of pregnancy.
BFN: Big Fat Negative
A term commonly used for a negative pregnancy test result.
BFP: Big Fat Positive
You can probably guess based on the prior acronym that this one represents a positive pregnancy test result!
CB: Cycle Buddy
Another person who is in the middle of ART treatment at the same time as you. A cycle buddy is potentially someone who can relate to what you’re going through and you can support each other along the way.
CD: Cycle Day
This begins on the first day you have regular menstrual bleeding and continues until your new period arrives the following month. The terms Cycle Day 1, Cycle Day 2, etc. are also used.
CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Each year, fertility clinics in the U.S. report and verify data on the ART cycles started and carried out in their clinics – as well as the outcomes of these cycles. The CDC publishes a Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report: a source of information that can give patients an idea of their average chance of success per cycle.
To save you from analyzing hundreds of pages of CDC data in a fairly intimidating pdf, GoStork shows you success rates as applicable to your case. These are then set against the national average for your personal criteria, giving you a better idea of where the clinic stands.
DE: Donor Eggs
These are eggs donated by a woman (the egg donor) to someone else to help them have a baby. Donor eggs can be frozen or fresh – you can learn more about these two options in our helpful article. As explained by the ASRM, the intended mother will not be biologically related to the child. However, because of epigenetics, if the intended mother carries the pregnancy, she will still have a significant impact on the development and future health of her baby. You can read more about this in our article A Step-by-Step Guide to Embryo Creation. Our article Egg Donation 101 also provides helpful information on the egg donation process and the criteria to consider when researching egg donors.
DOR: Diminished Ovarian Reserve
When the ovaries no longer produce quality eggs in adequate numbers. This generally occurs with ageing and menopause, but genetic abnormalities, medical treatments or injury may also lead to an earlier DOR. As patients with DOR do not have many eggs left, they may not respond well to the stimulation protocols used in IVF and may need to consider donor eggs to build their family.
DPO: Days Post-Ovulation
The number of days since ovulation occured.
DPR: Days Post-Retrieval
The number of days since eggs were retrieved in an IVF cycle.
DPT: Days Post-Transfer
The number of days since the embryo was transferred to the uterus in an IVF procedure. Learn more about the IVF process in our helpful step-by-step guide.
Endometriosis is an often painful condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it.
EPT: Early Pregnancy Test
Early pregnancy tests are a more sensitive type of urine tests which can detect hCG before a missed period.
ER: Egg Retrieval
A procedure done to remove the eggs from a woman’s ovaries for egg freezing purposes or IVF. A mild sedative is given through an IV and an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to identify the follicles. A needle is inserted through the vaginal wall and into each ovarian follicle. Gentle suction is used to retrieve the eggs one by one. The procedure takes 30 minutes or less, and is minimally invasive with a short recovery time. As the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) explains, ‘it’s not uncommon to have some vaginal spotting and lower abdominal discomfort for several days following the procedure’, but this resolves in a couple of days.
ET: Embryo Transfer
Once an egg fertilizes and starts cell division, the resulting embryo is transferred into the gestational carrier or mother’s uterus. The procedure does not require anesthesia. Learn more about embryo transfer in our article A Step-by-Step Guide to Embryo Creation.
FET: Frozen Embryo Transfer
A frozen embryo from a previous IVF cycle can be thawed and transferred into the intended mother’s or the gestational carrier’s uterus.
FHR: Fetal Heart Rate
Fetal heart rate – a more general term in that it’s not specific to fertility or ART – is a measure of the rate and rhythm of the fetal heartbeat. Monitoring is done to evaluate the well-being of the fetus during pregnancy and labor.
Frostie: Frozen Embryo
A more informal term for a frozen embryo.
FSH: Follicle-Stimulating Hormone
This hormone helps control the menstrual cycle and stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries. FSH levels change throughout the menstrual cycle, reaching a peak just before an egg is released by the ovary (ovulation). In men, FSH controls the production of sperm. Too much or too little FSH affects fertility.
FTTA: Fertile Thoughts to All
An encouraging sign-off sometimes used in the fertility community.
hCG: Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
hCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy by cells surrounding the embryo. hCG levels increase every two to three days as your embryo continues to develop and peaks around the sixth week of pregnancy – so you will often hear what hCG levels are showing in each test as early pregnancy progresses. It’s also the hormone detected by at home pregnancy tests.
HPT: Home Pregnancy Test
A pregnancy test you can take at home. Fertility patients are often advised not to use early home pregnancy tests as the result can be incorrect. Home pregnancy tests pick up the hCG in urine, but one of the fertility drugs used in IVF is in fact hCG. If the test detects the hormones from fertility treatment, you can get a false positive.
An X-ray procedure is used to view the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes, to check if the fallopian tubes are partly or fully blocked and to see if the inside of the uterus is a normal size and shape.
A record of past events to help establish a diagnosis.
ICSI: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
A process in IVF where a tiny needle is used to inject a single sperm into the center of the egg. ICSI helps overcome fertility issues such as low quality sperm count. It is also used to fertilize previously frozen eggs as the freezing and thawing process makes the shell surrounding the egg too hard for the sperm to penetrate on its own.
The CDC defines infertility as not being able to get pregnant after one year (or longer) of unprotected sex. As female fertility declines with age, the time limit goes down to 6 months for women over 35. One in eight couples in the US experience difficulty getting pregnant. Infertility is not just a female problem. While one-third of infertility cases are attributed to the female partner, not everyone realizes that approximately another third are attributed to the male, and another third is made up of a combination of problems in both partners, or is unexplained. On a global level, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15% of reproductive aged couples are affected by infertility.
IP(s): Intended Parent(s)
The person or persons who want to become parents and are seeking the assistance of assisted reproductive technology (such as surrogacy, donor conception, and/or IVF) to do so.
IR: Insulin Resistant
As the American Diabetes Association explains, patients with insulin resistances have built up a tolerance to insulin, making it less effective: “as a result, more insulin is needed to persuade fat and muscle cells to take up glucose and the liver to continue to store it.” A study published in Fertility and Sterility in 2020 noted that insulin resistance is common among women seeking fertility treatment, especially among those with a higher BMI. The researchers concluded that “while IR is not associated with worse IVF outcomes, patients with IR may require higher doses of gonadotropins and have a higher risk of GDM [developing gestational diabetes]”.
IVF: In Vitro Fertilization
IVF involves the combination of an egg with sperm in a laboratory setting. There are five main steps to this procedure:
Learn more about IVF in our article The IVF Process: A Step by Step Guide
IUI: Intrauterine Insemination
As explained by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in IUI, healthy sperm is placed directly in the uterus as close to the time of ovulation as possible. Some patients undergo ovulation stimulation with IUI. The sperm is provided by a partner or donor.
Surgery that checks for issues in the reproductive system and the abdomen. A thin tube with a camera attached to it is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision. It allows the surgeon to view inside the body without major surgery, and is used to diagnose and/or treat reproductive health issues, such as fibroids, ovarian cysts and endometriosis.
LH: Luteinizing Hormone
A hormone that causes the ovaries to release an egg during ovulation in women, and stimulates the production of testosterone in men. High levels of luteinizing hormone can cause infertility – as do levels that are too low.
LMP: Last Menstrual Period
The start date of one’s last menstrual period.
LSP: Low Sperm Count
When a patient’s sperm density is fewer than 15 million sperm per millilitre or less than 39 million sperm total per ejaculate. As noted by the Mayo Clinic, normal sperm densities range from 15 million to greater than 200 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and certain medications can impact sperm count. Long-term illness, childhood infections and chromosome or hormone issues can also affect sperm numbers.
MAI: Miscarriage after Infertility
A pregnancy loss after conceiving through fertility treatment.
MC, m/c, misc.: Miscarriage
The spontaneous loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. Miscarriages occur naturally – in about one in four pregnancies. A pregnancy loss beyond the 20th week is called a stillbirth.
MF: Male factor
According to RESOLVE, 30% of infertility cases are related to male factor issues. Learn more about diagnosis and treatment options in our article Male Factor Infertility.
O, OV: Ovulation
The release of an egg from an ovary during the menstrual cycle. In a 28-day cycle, ovulation usually occurs around 14 or 15 days from the first day of your last period, however the exact time ovulation occurs varies from patient to patient. Knowing when you ovulate and timing intercourse accordingly gives you a better chance of conceiving. You can learn more about predicting and confirming ovulation in this article by Proov.
OB, OB/GYN: Obstetrician/Gynecologist
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) defines OB/GYNs as “physicians who, by virtue of satisfactory completion of an accredited program of graduate medical education, possess special knowledge, skills and professional capability in the medical and surgical care of women related to pregnancy and disorders of the female reproductive system. Obstetricians and gynecologists provide primary and preventive care for women and serve as consultants to other health care professionals.”
PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCOS is a common endocrine issue that makes up 25% of infertility cases. Women diagnosed with PCOS typically have an elevated level of male hormones. The male hormones affect the ovaries as they are not able to make the hormones needed for an egg to mature fully. When the eggs are not fully mature, it can stop you from ovulating, and when ovulation doesn’t happen, your cycles can become irregular or stop altogether. Each aspect affects another and can create issues health wise and fertility wise. Learn more about PCOS in this article by Jennifer Jay Palumbo.
PGT-A: Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidies
Previously known as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), PGT-A provides information on the embryo’s genetic health, specifically the number of chromosomes, to help select the best embryo for transfer and improve the chances of a successful pregnancy.
PGT-M: Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic Disorders
Formerly known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), PGT-M tests for inherited disorders caused by mutations in a single gene, such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington’s disease.
PI: Primary Infertility
Primary infertility refers to couples who have not become pregnant after one year of trying to conceive.
PID: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
The CDC defines PID as an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs, a complication often caused by STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, when left untreated. Other non-sexually transmitted infections can also cause PID. PID can lead to infertility.
POAS: Pee on a Stick
Taking a pregnancy test.
POF: Premature Ovarian Failure
Also known as Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). Women naturally experience reduced fertility around 40 years old but for those with POF, this happens earlier; in some cases even as early as the teenage years.
PUPO: Pregnant until proven otherwise
Referred to typically after an ART procedure during the two week wait.
RE / REI: Reproductive Endocrinologist
An RE is a fertility specialist who has received a board certification by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. RE’s specialize in reproductive organs, diagnosing fertility issues, designing appropriate treatment protocols, and educating intended parents on fertility technology such as IVF, genetic testing, and more.
RPL: Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
Experiencing two or more miscarriages. The ACOG recommends a thorough physical exam and testing after three repeated miscarriages.
SA: Semen Analysis
A semen analysis measures the quantity and quality of the fluid released during ejaculation. This includes both semen and sperm. A typical analysis measures semen volume and consistency, sperm count and concentration, and sperm motility (how sperm move), among other elements.
SART: Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
An organization for Assisted Reproductive Technology professionals in the United States.
SI: Secondary Infertility
The inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term for six months to a year after successfully conceiving one or more child. Learn more about this diagnosis in Secondary Infertility: Sometimes, History Doesn’t Repeat Itself.
STD: Sexually Transmitted Disease
While this is a more general term, not commonly associated with infertility, it’s important to note that some STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility if left untreated.
TL/TR: Tubal Ligation, Tubal Reversal
During a tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are cut, tied or blocked to permanently prevent pregnancy. A tubal ligation reversal is surgery that attempts to restore fertility after a tubal ligation.
TTC: Trying To Conceive
A common term used mainly related to women / couples trying to become pregnant naturally or with the support of fertility providers (including coaches, nutritionists, OB/GYNs, REs, etc) and/or fertility treatment.
TTCAR: Trying to Conceive After Reversal
Trying to get pregnant after a vasectomy or tubal ligation reversal. Provided there are no other fertility issues, it can take six to 12 months to get pregnant after a vasectomy reversal. As noted by Healthline, in general, 50-80% of women who have tubal ligation reversal go on to have successful pregnancies, but it’s important to note that pregnancy success is most likely in women under 35.
An imagining test that uses sound waves to create a picture – used throughout pregnancy in general and not just for infertility treatment. A diagnostic ultrasound can help diagnose infertility and is also used to monitor infertility treatments. A pregnancy ultrasound checks a baby’s growth, development and overall health.
V/VR: Vasectomy, Vasectomy Reversal
The Urology Care Foundation describes a vasectomy as ‘minor surgery to block sperm from reaching the semen that is ejaculated from the penis”. It’s an effective form of male birth control, opted for by more than 500,000 men in the US each year. In a vasectomy reversal, the vas deferens is surgically reconnected. Provided there are no other fertility issues, it can take six to 12 months to get pregnant.
Fertility professionals and the wider infertility community use an extensive list of acronyms on a daily basis. It can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting your journey. We hope that this list of common fertility abbreviations supports you as you navigate each step on your path to parenthood.
At GoStork, we’re here to support you as you research your options, connect with providers that may be your ideal match, and make your final decision about which to move forwards with. Join us today to keep learning about your fertility options, and to find the ideal providers to help you on your journey. Start by creating your account here.