Learning the Language of Fertility
Beginning your fertility journey can feel like arriving in a strange new world. Your conversations are suddenly full of unfamiliar terms and mysteriously strung together letters. The good news: these terms represent the wide range of procedures available to help hopeful parents conceive. Some of them can be a mouthful, so a convenient shorthand has evolved.
No need to worry about achieving full fluency—the hope is that your stop in the world of fertility will be brief. But if you don’t yet know your TTC from your ART, this fertility acronym decoder can be your guide.
A Quick Guide to Common Fertility Acronyms
An individual or couple is said to be “trying to conceive” (TTC) during the period of time in which they are intentionally trying to become pregnant.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is an umbrella term used for infertility treatments that handle the egg or embryo in a laboratory. An example of non-ART fertility treatment would be using fertility medications to stimulate ovulation without having the eggs retrieved from the ovaries.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment that involves combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the resulting embryo into the uterus.
“In vitro” is Latin for “within the glass,” meaning fertilization, or the process of combining an egg with a sperm, occurs outside of the body. In vitro fertilization is the most frequently used ART technique.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a medical procedure in which sperm that has been washed and concentrated is placed directly into the uterus to facilitate fertilization. This non-ART fertility treatment is done around the time of ovulation to maximize the chances for conception.
A Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) occurs when a cryopreserved embryo that was created during an IVF cycle is thawed and transferred to a uterus.
Male Factor Infertility (MF) is the term used when the cause of infertility stems from a male partner.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a commonly diagnosed condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. This hormonal imbalance can cause a woman to have irregular menstrual periods, excess male hormone levels, or small fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries, all of which can lead to abnormal ovulation. PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) occurs when the ovaries are stimulated by fertility medication to produce multiple eggs.
Luteinizing hormone (LH) is produced within the pituitary gland and stimulates follicular growth and ovulation. In the female body, a sudden spike in LH production induces ovulation.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced during pregnancy. When used as an injectable, hCG facilitates the final maturation phase of the eggs and triggers ovulation of the mature eggs from the ovaries approximately thirty-six hours after it has been injected. This is commonly referred to as the "trigger shot."
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries. FSH levels are tested to evaluate a woman’s ovarian function and egg quality. Also, FSH injections may be used during fertility treatment to promote the growth of multiple follicles in the ovaries.
One Step at a Time
Remember—you don’t need to be an expert to be successful on your TTC journey. Your doctor will walk you through the treatment options that are right for you, one step at a time. With each stop along your path, you’ll naturally find that your fertility fluency improves. Before you know it, you’ll be discussing FSH levels and IVF cycles with ease.
You’re Not Traveling Alone
The world of fertility medications can seem complicated, but Alto’s dedicated fertility pharmacists are here to answer your questions. Our team of specialists will ensure that you receive the right medications at the right time—delivered by hand to your door. To learn more visit us at alto.com/fertility or reach out via phone, text, or the app.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.