Understanding the medical jargon

When you embark on a fertility journey, there are so many words and abbreviations that you will come across that might leave you feeling rather confused. Here we have listed some of the most common terms along with a brief explanation

Your body

AF Aunt Flo. The start of your period.

BD The “baby dance,” a rather strange alternative to the word “sex”.

BBT (Basal Body Temperature) Your basal body temperature is your temperature when your body is fully at rest. When you ovulate, your temperature rises.

The Tests Here are some of the most common tests. To read learn more about fertility testing, click here

AMH test (anti-Müllerian hormone) gives the doctor an approximate idea of the amount of viable eggs left in the ovaries.

Antral follicle is a transvaginal ultrasound that allows your doctor to visually count the number of active egg-containing follicles that are developing on both of your ovaries.

Aquascan assesses the uterine cavity (with sedative).

A baseline ultrasound allows your doctor to evaluate the ovaries and pelvic organs to determine if it is the right time to begin ovarian stimulation

HyCoSy scan  The ultrasonographic hysterosalpingography is a modern ultrasound scan, used to test the uterus and fallopian tubes when investigating infertility.

Hormone profile These test the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) responsible for helping your ovaries mature eggs every cycle, estradiol (E2) to determine a woman’s ovarian reserve and confirm a woman’s FSH test result, and luteinizing hormone (LH) which helps regulate ovulation and develop corpus luteum.

Salpingogram  to check that fallopian tubes are not blocked.

TSH is a thyroid stimulating hormone, associated with implantation failure.

T4  thyroxin, again to detect thyroid problems.

Prolactin  is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain (too much can be a barrier to conception).

Male Fertility (Read more about male fertility here)

MFI stands for Male Factor Infertility.

Mobility is the ability of sperm to move properly.

Morphology refers to the structure, shape and size of the spermatozoa (the sperm cell).

DNA fragmentation is the separation or breaking of DNA strands into pieces. Measuring the levels of DNA fragmentation can shed quite a bit of light on why so many couples end up with a diagnosis of ‘unexplained infertility’, failed IVF, or miscarriage despite the egg health and sperm health initially appearing to be good.

Azoospermia – Azoospermia means that the man’s semen (the white fluid) contains no sperm

TESA (Testicular Epididymal Sperm Aspiration) – TESA is the process of sperm  aspiration, whereby sperm is extracted through a needle in the testis and aspirating fluid

TESE (Testicular Epididymal Sperm Extraction) – is the process of sperm extraction whereby the testicle is cut open.

Your Protocol (Read more about protocols here)

Protocol – The term protocol refers to the type and dose of fertility drugs you may need, the combination of different substances and the path of your fertility plan.

Art Assisted Reproductive Technology (Fertility Treatment)

(IUI)  Intrauterine insemination  A semen sample is washed by the lab to separate the semen from the seminal fluid. A catheter is then used to insert the sperm directly into the uterus.

Stimulated IVF is where the ovaries are stimulated with medication (injections) to produce more than one egg so that the eggs can be harvested from the ovaries during the cycle and fertilised or injected with sperm in an IVF laboratory. The stimulation of the ovaries to produce eggs is called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH),

ICI with intracervical insemination is where the sperm is placed directly inside the cervix, using a needle-less syringe. The sperm does not need to be washed, as with the process of IUI, because the semen is not being directly placed inside the uterus.

Natural cycle IVF does not use medications to stimulate the ovaries. Therefore, the cycle can only produce up to one mature egg at a time. Patients are monitored with ultrasounds and bloodwork to track the development of the single follicle so that it is not released (ovulated) by the body before it can be retrieved.

Mild IVF With mild stimulation, a low dose of drugs is given and several follicles will develop, but not as many as with a conventional IVF cycle.

ICSI, a single, carefully-selected sperm is injected with a very thin glass needle into the oocyte. Before the sperm is injected, a part of the outer layer of the oocyte is stripped off.

PICSI involves sperm being selected to fertilise eggs based on whether they could bind to hyaluronan, a substance normally found surrounding the surface of eggs.

Fertility Medication

“Stimming”  is the process of using injectable medications

Buserelin is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH agonist) synthetic hormone drug, used to ‘switch off’ your ovaries at the start of the IVF procedure (before starting it up again with different drugs). Usually, Buserelin will be given in either an injection form or you can take it in the form of a nasal spray.

Clomid is  fertility drug that stimulates the ovaries

Menopur stimulates the ovaries to help produce eggs.

Metformin common fertility drug designed to stimulate the ovaries for egg production and regular periods

Nafarelin is the general name for the drug Synarel, which is often used to treat endometriosis.  It is commonly taken via a nasal spray.

Pregnyl is the brand name for HCG shot taken at the end of stimulation.

Progesterone A pregnancy hormone which assists in stimulating the uterus.

Following egg collection

FET Frozen embryo transfer, an IVF procedure that utilises frozen embryos rather than fresh.

PGD/PGS Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnos is  when a biopsy of cells from the embryo is removed to check the number of chromosomes that it has.

“Snowbabies/Frosties” are frozen embryos.

ASH (Assisted Hatching) is used in some clinics to make a small hole in, or to thin, the shell of the embryo in an attempt to help it hatch

Blastocyst An embryo, about four to five days after fertilisation reaches the blastocyst stage.

And once you have had your treatment…

Beta The blood test performed by a doctor that determines a woman’s level of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin, the hormone produced during pregnancy) and whether a woman is indeed pregnant.

HCG (beta) human Chorionic Gonadotropin  is a hormone produced by the placenta during pregnancy. Your body starts to produce hCG just after you conceive, and hCG levels increase steadily during the first trimester.

2WW  is the longest most emotionally draining two weeks you will ever experience. On day 14 you can do a pregnancy test to see if you are pregnant.

BFP/BFN “Big Fat Positive” or sadly, a “Big Fat Negative.”

Biochemical Pregnancy The medical term used to describe a very early miscarriage, which usually happens in the 1st couple weeks after you’ve had your embryo transferred to the womb ?

Chemical Pregnancy a term to describe a very early miscarriage

For more terms and explanations take a look at this article

What fertility tests might I need?




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