How does someone new to fertility even begin to learn all the fertility lingo and acronyms?
If you are new to the word of fertility treatments, you are probably realizing there is a whole new world out there you may not have known existed. A world of women going through a tough time, connecting with each other through the world wide web using a different language than you've ever learned to speak.
I remember when I was just starting to research infertility and I would end up on infertility blogs that used an acronym for every other damn word. I was not only confused, but I was pissed too.
Do we really have to learn them?
Can't we all just speak normal English people? This shit is hard enough without learning a new fucking language! Do we really need to create shorter abbreviations for words like "trying to conceive" i.e. TTC and make it harder for fertility newbies to connect and understand? Stop being lazy, and spell the damn words out.
Clearly, I'm still pissed.
I personally, choose NOT to use fertility acronyms anywhere on my blog (well, except this one). I never really took the time to learn all of them, and I remember how hard it was for me to navigate this new world, not speaking the fertility tongue (eye roll). I just thought it was inconsiderate.
I would end up googling for hours trying to figure out what each one meant. I'd think I had it all figured out, and then I'd forget again.
Who the hell has time to learn and remember an entirely new language? Where you at Rosetta Stone?
I even noticed it happening at the doctor's office. The nurses would say things like FSH, AMH and HCG. I truly couldn't escape the lingo. I'd get home with a box of meds and shots like the one below and have no fucking clue what anything was or what it was used for. I'm a smart girl, I need to know what I'm putting in my body and why!
Overtime, I realized that there are some words you have to learn. Even for those of you that are as stubborn and annoyed as I am about this topic. We too, have to get on board if we want to be able to communicate and understand.
I've put together a list of the ones I think you absolutely need to learn, from a medical standpoint. This will help you better understand your lab workups, your diagnosis, and your doctor.
Here are the medical fertility acronyms you actually do need to know.
AMH: or anti-Müllerian hormone, is the best predictor of a woman’s ovarian reserve. AMH is a protein produced by the granulosa cells in ovarian follicles. AMH blood levels are indicative of the size of the pool of follicles remaining; thus, as a woman gets older, the size of the ovarian follicle pool decreases and the AMH level also decreases, becoming undetectable at the time of menopause.
Beta: or beta pregnancy test, is a blood test for the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). Levels of hCG increase steadily in the early stages of pregnancy, showing physicians that a healthy pregnancy is progressing.
E2: refers to estradiol, or your level of estrogen. The estrogen level correlates directly with the number of follicles in your ovaries, helping physicians to estimate how many eggs you will have for retrieval during your cycle.
FSH: FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, is released by the brain to stimulate the ovarian follicles (tiny fluid-filled sacs within the ovary containing a maturing egg) to grow and develop.
hCG: Human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Levels of hCG increase steadily in the early stages of pregnancy, showing physicians that a healthy pregnancy is progressing. A beta pregnancy test specifically looks for hCG.
HSG: A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) determines the condition of the fallopian tubes and uterus. When an HSG is performed, dye will be placed through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes. An x-ray will determine if the uterine cavity is normal and the tubes are open. This is the best test to look at the tubes and also provides the opportunity to look at the shape and contour of the uterus.
ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a treatment when an embryologist will select a single healthy sperm and inject it directly into the center of the egg. This has been an incredibly effective treatment for male factor infertility or just to yield better results in general.
IUI: Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a low-tech fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. Placing the sperm directly into the uterus makes the trip to the fallopian tubes much shorter, providing the sperm with a shorter distance to reach the egg. Some call this the "turkey baster" method.
IVF: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method of assisted reproduction that involves combining an egg with sperm in a laboratory dish. If the egg fertilizes and the cells begin to divide, the resulting embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus where it will hopefully implant in the uterine lining and further develop.
LH: Luteinizing hormone (LH) is produced by the gonadotropin cells in the pituitary gland. In women, the rise of LH (known as the “LH surge”) triggers ovulation, or the release of the eggs.
OHSS: OHSS stands for ovarian hyperstimulation, a rare complication of ovarian stimulation. This occurs when a woman develops fluid in the abdomen and has enlarged ovaries.
P4: P4, or the hormone known as progesterone, is tested to determine the following:
if ovulation has occurred
when ovulation has occurred
if there has been an ectopic pregnancy
if there has been a miscarriage
Progesterone levels will surge before ovulation and should continue to rise if you become pregnant.
PCOS: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder in which the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male hormones and develop many small cysts. These hormonal imbalances can prevent ovulation.
PGS: Preconception genetic screening (PGS) can test prospective parents for over 100 different diseases and syndromes. Genetic screening may test for traits that are common in a certain ethnic group, that are recessive, or that may have some likelihood of causing serious diseases in affected offspring.
PGD: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a state-of-the-art procedure used in conjunction with IVF to select embryos that are free of chromosomal abnormalities and specific genetic disorders, in order to transfer the embryo to the uterus.
And here are some that you might read online, that really don't need to be abbreviated, IMO (in my opinion).
DE: DE, or donor egg, refers to donor egg treatment, which is needed by women who are unable to use their own eggs for conception, but can still carry a child in their uterus; women who have decreased ovarian function, premature ovarian failure, or genetic abnormalities; or same-sex male couples using a gestational carrier.
GC: A gestational carrier is commonly used for women who are unable to carry their own child or for same-sex couples. Different than a “traditional surrogate,” gestational carriers have no biological link to the child(ren).
MF: MF represents male factor infertility, which can occur from structural abnormalities, sperm production disorders, ejaculatory disturbances, and immunologic disorders.
RPL: Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) is defined as two or more consecutive, spontaneous pregnancy losses before the pregnancies reach 20 weeks. Recurrent miscarriages can be attributed to a variety of factors, including a genetic defect, an abnormally-shaped uterus, fibroids, scar tissue, hormonal imbalances, and more.
SA: A semen analysis (SA) must be performed prior to a treatment cycle in order to evaluate the sperm’s potential to fertilize an egg. A semen analysis tells your physician the number of sperm that are present, whether they are normal, and how well they move.
SI: Secondary infertility (SI) is defined as the inability to become pregnant—despite engaging in unprotected intercourse—following the birth of one or more biological children who were born without the aid of fertility treatment or medications.
These are the ridiculous acronyms I'm talking about...
Are you ready for this?
2WW= The two week wait before taking a pregnancy test.
AF = Aunt Flo (menstruation)
AI = Artificial Insemination
AIH = Artificial Insemination from Husband
BBT = Basal Body Temperature
BCP = Birth Control Pills
BD = Baby Dance (sex)
BFN = Big Fat Negative (pregnancy test)
BFP = Big Fat Positive(pregnancy test)
CB = Cycle Buddy (on the same cycle as a friend)
CD = Cycle Day
CF = Cervical Fluid
CM = Cervical Mucus
DOR = Diminished Ovarian Reserve
DPO = Days Post-Ovulation
DPR = Days Post-Retrieval
DPT = Days Post-Transfer
EPT = Early Pregnancy Test
ET = Embryo Transfer
EDD = Estimated Due Date
FET = Frozen Embryo Transfer
FP = Follicular Phase
FM = Fertile Mucus
FV = Fertile Vibes
What the fuck are fertile vibes anyway???
HPT = Home Pregnancy Test
IF = Infertility
Yes, there is even an acronym for the word infertility. FSM (fucking shoot me).
LO = Love Olympics (sex)
LP = Luteal Phase
LPD = Luteal Phase Defect
LSP = Low Sperm Count
TTC: Trying to conceive.
O, OV = Ovulation
OC = Oral Contraceptives
OD = Ovulatory Dysfunction
OPT = Ovulation Predictor Test
OTC = Over The Counter
PG = Pregnant
Yup, there's one for pregnant too. Because, that's such a long word to spell out. AYFKM? (are you fucking kidding me?)
PGD = Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis
POAS = Pee On a Stick
PI = Primary Infertility
PIO = Progesterone in Oil
So, there you have it. A list of words that the fertility community uses to communicate.
Try not to be overwhelmed by this. Print out a cheat sheet and keep it in your purse. You don't need to learn them all, just the important medical ones. The online fertility community is going to be one of your best supporters going through this. Don't be afraid to let someone know you don't understand or that you are new to this.
We were all newbies at one point, you are not alone!