Fertility Vocabulary

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Embarking on the journey of assisted conception, you will come across an array of words and abbreviations that can make the journey even more confusing than it already is, so this post goes out to everyone at the start of their journey; whether you’re about to have your first doctor’s appointment or just contemplating giving the doctor a call as you’ve been trying to conceive for a while. Hopefully understanding some of this terminology will leave you slightly less flummoxed 😊



What does it mean?

Intrauterine insemination (intra = inside, uterine= uterus)

What does it do?

This could potentially be one of the first treatments you may embark on and involves collecting sperm from your partner and injecting it inside the uterus via the vagina either at the optimum point of your natural cycle ie. Just before ovulation or after taking stimulation drugs to time correctly.



What does it mean?

In Vitro Fertilisation

What does it do?

Generally the next step after IUI, the IVF process involves stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, collecting them via the vagina and then mixing with the sperm to enable fertilisation before implanting one or two fertilised eggs back into the uterus.



The process of encouraging multiple eggs to grow and mature with the help of medication ready for collection for IVF or insemination with IUI.




After an egg has been fertilised by the sperm, the embryonic stage is generally assumed after the egg has attached to the uterus and has started to create a placenta at around 4 or 5 weeks.


Egg Reserve

Doctors use this expression when talking about how many viable eggs may be remaining in your ovaries.



What does it mean?

Follicle Stimulating Hormone


What does it do?

Your doctor might want to do a blood test to gauge your FSH levels at a specific point in your cycle as if they’re high it could mean that your body is having to work harder to create mature eggs as the quality might not be great or your egg reserve may be diminished.



What does it mean?

Luteinizing Hormone


What does it do?

Works in synergy with FSH to support ovulation. Again, your doctor may want to do a blood test to gauge the level if you present with fertility issues as it will help determine whether you are ovulating naturally or not.



What does it mean?

Anti Mullerium Hormone


What does it do?

If your doctor wants to test your AMH levels, they will be looking for an indication of your egg reserve, ie. how many eggs you have remaining in your ovaries. A higher score usually indicates better egg reserve than a lower one.



An embryo becomes a foetus at about the 10thweek of pregnancy  



A chronic condition where cells from the uterus start growing in other areas of the body, typically on the ovaries, pelvis, bowel and can cause painful periods, heavy bleeding and infertility.



What does it mean?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What does it do?

PCOS is a common hormonal condition that affects the ovaries and can cause delayed, inconsistent or lack of ovulation in women.



What does it mean?

Male Factor Infertility – infertility caused by issues with the sperm production or quality.


Sperm motility

The ability of sperm to move properly to reach the egg. Sperm motility can also be described as the qualityof the sperm, which is a factor in successful conception; sperm that do not “swim” properly will not reach the egg in order to fertilize it.


IV scan

What does it mean?

Intra vaginal scan

What does it do?

An IV scan is often used throughout the fertility testing and diagnosis period as well as throughout IUI and IVF to be able to view the ovaries, pelvis and uterus clearly.





About 3 days after fertilisation, the egg is classified as a Morula at the point it reaches 16 cells



Once an egg has fertilised, the cells start to divide and after about 5 days it’s classified as a blastocyst. At this point it is often transferred back into the uterus during IVF.



A transfer occurs during IVF once an egg has been fertilised and has survived up to 3 days or 5 days in the incubator. It involves inserting a small pipette like instrument into the vagina and releasing the egg into the uterus.



What does it mean?

Ovarian hyperstimulating syndrome

What does it do?

OHSS is a risk whenever ovaries are medically stimulated. If the ovaries respond too strongly to the medication they can overstimulate, produce too many eggs and cause severe abdominal pain.



What does it mean?

Frozen Embryo Transfer

What does it do?

During IVF some fertilised eggs may be frozen instead of being transferred fresh ie. if more than one is looking healthy at day 5. When the frozen eggs are ready to be used, they are thawed and then transferred using the same process as for fresh eggs.


Phew! So if you managed to get through all of those, then you’ll be pretty clued up on your terminology going into your next appointments. Of course you should always ask for clarity from your doctor if there is anything you don’t understand 😊


Wherever you are on your fertility journey, I’d love to hear from you!

Speak soon


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