The Language of IVF: Glossary of 40 Acronyms & Definitions

  Photo by Guilherme Stecanella                 on Unsplash

Embarking on the journey of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is often overwhelming, especially when you’re bombarded with a sea of acronyms and technical terms. Understanding this specialized language helps have conversations with healthcare providers, support groups, and online forums. Knowledge is power!

  1. AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone): A hormone produced by ovarian follicles, often used as a marker of ovarian reserve and egg quality.
  2. ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology): This umbrella term encompasses all fertility treatments where both eggs and sperm are handled outside the body. IVF is one of the most common forms of ART, but it also includes procedures like intrauterine insemination (IUI) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT).
  3. BETA (HCG Beta Subunit): A blood test that measures the level of beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), used to confirm pregnancy after IVF.
  4. BFP (Big Fat Positive): Used to describe a positive pregnancy test result, indicating that pregnancy has been achieved.
  5. BFP (Big Fat Positive): Conversely, this acronym refers to a positive pregnancy test result, indicating a successful pregnancy.
  6. BFN (Big Fat Negative): Used to describe a negative pregnancy test result, indicating that pregnancy has not occurred.
  7. DE (Donor Egg): Used to indicate the use of donated eggs in an IVF cycle, often employed when the intended parent(s) are unable to produce viable eggs.
  8. DEB (Donor Egg Bank): Refers to a facility or organization that stores and distributes donated eggs for fertility treatments.
  9. DPO (Days Past Ovulation): This acronym refers to the number of days that have passed since ovulation occurred, often used to track the progression of a menstrual cycle or to predict when a pregnancy test may be accurate.
  10. DS (Donor Sperm): This acronym signifies the use of donated sperm in assisted reproduction, commonly used by single individuals or same-sex couples.
  11. E2 (Estradiol): The primary form of estrogen produced by the ovaries, essential for follicle development and the thickening of the uterine lining.
  12. ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Analysis): A test used to assess the receptivity of the uterine lining for embryo implantation, helping to optimize the timing of embryo transfer.
  13. ET (Embryo Transfer): This is the procedure where one or more embryos are transferred into the uterus, typically 3-5 days after fertilization.
  14. ETD (Estimated Time of Delivery): This acronym refers to the anticipated date when a baby is expected to be born, calculated based on the embryo transfer or conception date.
  15. FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer): In cases where multiple embryos are created during an IVF cycle, any unused embryos can be frozen and stored for future use. FET involves thawing and transferring these frozen embryos into the uterus during a subsequent cycle.
  16. FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone): This hormone stimulates the growth of ovarian follicles containing eggs. Elevated levels may indicate diminished ovarian reserve or other fertility issues.
  17. FRER (First Response Early Response): The drugstore pregnancy test brand that is considered the most reliable by most online forum members.
  18. GnRH (Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone): A hormone that stimulates the release of FSH and LH from the pituitary gland, essential for ovarian function and fertility.
  19. HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin): A hormone produced by the placenta after implantation and is often used as a trigger shot to stimulate ovulation or to support early pregnancy.
  20. HPT (Home Pregnancy Test): Used to describe a pregnancy test conducted at home, typically using urine to detect the presence of hCG.
  21. ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection): A specialized IVF technique where a single sperm is injected directly into an egg to facilitate fertilization.
  22. IPI (Interpregnancy Interval): The duration of time between the end of one pregnancy and the conception of the next pregnancy.
  23. IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): This is a fertility treatment where fertilization occurs outside the body, typically in a laboratory. It involves stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, retrieving the eggs, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, and then transferring the resulting embryos into the uterus.
  24. LAP (Laparoscopy): A surgical procedure used to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the reproductive organs, such as endometriosis or tubal blockages.
  25. LH (Luteinizing Hormone): A hormone produced by the pituitary gland that triggers ovulation and stimulates the production of progesterone.
  26. LP (Luteal Phase): The phase of the menstrual cycle between ovulation and the start of menstruation, typically lasting around 10-16 days.
  27. M/C (Miscarriage): This acronym is used to denote the loss of a pregnancy before the 20th week, also known as spontaneous abortion.
  28. OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome): A potential complication of ovarian stimulation where the ovaries become swollen and painful due to excessive follicle growth.
  29. OPK (Ovulation Predictor Kit): This acronym refers to a test used to predict ovulation by detecting hormonal changes in urine or saliva.
  30. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome): A hormonal disorder characterized by irregular periods, elevated androgen levels, and cysts on the ovaries, often associated with infertility.
  31. PE (Pregnancy Estrogen): Refers to elevated levels of estrogen during pregnancy, which contribute to various physiological changes in the body.
  32. PG (Pregnancy Glow): A term used to describe the radiant appearance of pregnant individuals, often attributed to hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  33. PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis): Similar to PGS, PGD is a genetic test conducted on embryos to detect specific genetic conditions or mutations.
  34. PGS (Preimplantation Genetic Screening): A genetic test performed on embryos during IVF to identify chromosomal abnormalities before implantation.
  35. PESA (Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration): A surgical sperm retrieval technique used to collect sperm directly from the epididymis for use in IVF.
  36. P4 (Progesterone): This acronym denotes the hormone progesterone, which plays a crucial role in preparing the uterus for implantation and supporting early pregnancy.
  37. RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist): A fertility specialist who diagnoses and treats reproductive disorders, including infertility, through medical interventions like IVF.
  38. SA (Semen Analysis): Used to assess the quantity, quality, and motility of sperm in a semen sample, typically performed as part of a fertility evaluation.
  39. TESA (Testicular Sperm Aspiration): A surgical sperm retrieval technique used to collect sperm directly from the testicles for use in IVF.
  40. TWW (Two-Week Wait): The period of anticipation following embryo.

Having access to this glossary can hopefully support you with having more meaningful conversations with your healthcare team and fellow IVF warriors. As you navigate your fertility journey, remember that knowledge is power, and you’re not alone in this process.

Stay informed, stay resilient, and remember to advocate for yourself every step of the way.

Rachel Shanken, Somatic Fertility Therapist in New York City