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Translating Common Infertility Terms & Acronyms

Infertility - Medical Concept on Blue Background with Blurred Text and Composition of Pills, Syringe and Stethoscope; blog: Translating Common Infertility Terms & Acronyms

If you are just starting on your fertility journey, you might notice that there are a lot of words and abbreviations you are unfamiliar with. It’s like a foreign language! Your fertility specialist should always explain things clearly, but it’s useful to know what certain infertility terms and acronyms mean.

Basic Infertility Terms

These basic infertility terms might come up frequently during your fertility journey.


Reproductive Endocrinologist: A doctor that has received extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of infertility. Also known as a fertility specialist.


Assisted Reproductive Technology:  Fertility treatments in which eggs, sperm, and/or embryos are handled.


Spontaneous abortion (aka miscarriage): Also known as spontaneous abortion, miscarriage is when an embryo or fetus dies before the 20th week of pregnancy.


Missed abortion: A miscarriage that has not passed yet.


Donor Oocyte or Donor Eggs: Eggs retrieved from a woman other than the intended mother.I

Primary Infertility: Used to describe a couple that has never been able to conceive a pregnancy.

Causes and Conditions

Infertility does not always have a single identifiable cause, but the following infertility terms may be used in relation to causes or conditions related to infertility.


Unexplained Infertility: Infertility diagnosis when all testing is normal.


Male Factor: Infertility related to issues with the intended father. Many cases of infertility have both male and female factors.


Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: When someone has two or more spontaneous pregnancy losses in a row before reaching 20 weeks.


Endometriosis: A condition in which endometrial tissue (which usually forms the lining of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. This can lead to lesions on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other organs and cause infertility.


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A disorder in which the ovaries produce an excess of male hormones. This causes cysts to develop on the ovaries and the hormonal imbalance interferes with ovulation.


Advanced Reproductive Age (Also AMA, Advanced Maternal Age and APA, Advanced Paternal Age): Women over the age of 35 and men over the age of 40 are considered advanced reproductive age.


There are several types of hormones you may become familiar with when going through fertility treatments.


Estradiol: A form of the female sex hormone estrogen. E2 levels are used as an indicator of how well fertility medications are working.


Progesterone: A female reproductive hormone. P4 levels are measured to determine whether or not ovulation has occurred. Progesterone levels may also indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.


Human Chorionic Gonadotropin/Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin: A hormone produced during pregnancy that can be detected by pregnancy tests. HCG is also a medication made from this hormone to trigger release of eggs from the follicles for IVF or ovulation.


Follicle-Stimulating Hormone: A hormone that stimulates the ovarian follicles that contain eggs to grow and develop. This hormone occurs naturally but is often given by injection during an egg retrieval cycle.


Luteinizing Hormone: A hormone that triggers ovulation in women. This is the hormone that is checked with an ovulation prediction kit.


The following infertility terms and acronyms describe types of fertility treatments and procedures.


Ovulation Induction: The use of medications to stimulate ovulation in women who do not ovulate regularly or do not ovulate at all. May be done as a part of another treatment like IVF or IUI.


Intra-uterine insemination: The most common type of artificial insemination. The father or sperm donor provides a sample to the lab, where the sperm go through a preparation process before being injected directly into the uterus.


In Vitro Fertilization: A type of fertility treatment in which the egg and sperm are combined for fertilization in a lab rather than within a woman’s body. After fertilization, the resulting embryo is transferred to the woman’s uterus, ideally resulting in implantation and full-term pregnancy.


Embryo Transfer: The transfer of an embryo into the uterus of the intended mother or gestational carrier after an IVF cycle.


Frozen Embryo Transfer: This is the thawing and transfer of a frozen embryo into the uterus. 


Saline sonogram (also saline-infusion sonogram or sonohysterogram): This is a procedure to instill water into the uterus with an ultrasound to outline the uterine cavity and check for problems with the uterus.


Hysterosalpingogram: This is an X-ray dye test of the uterus and tubes. 


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: Injection of a single sperm into each egg to fertilize it. This can only be done in a IVF cycle.

The experienced team at Carolinas Fertility Institute is here for you every step of the way on your fertility journey. Our patients receive individualized care and our providers will make sure you are well informed and well taken care of at every stage. To make an appointment, call our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.

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