Learn the Fertility Lingo – A Glossary of Terms

There is a whole new vocabulary to learn when you begin your treatment. Here is a mini dictionary to get you started!


Assisted hatching -weakening of the shell surrounding the embryo to help with implantation


The absence or cessation of menstrual periods


Assisted reproductive technologies -techniques that involve the removal of eggs from the ovary, such as IVF


Ambulatory Surgery Center.  Here at RHS it is Pittsburgh Center For Reproductive Services, LLC


Basal Body Temperature. There are many websites and apps to help you track BBT to determine ovulation.


The blastocyst is an embryonic ball of cells filled with fluid

Beta HCG

Beta Human Chorionic Gonadotropin-This hormone is made by the developing embryo after conception.  It can be detected in blood and urine.  You may also take this to “trigger” ovulation or the release of eggs during your treatment.


An injectable drug containing FSH, used for ovulation induction.

Cancelled Cycle

A cycle in which ovarian stimulation was done but the cycle was stopped before egg retrieval or embryo transfer.




Last menstrual period (the start date).  Also called cycle day one.

Clomiphene Citrate

A drug taken in tablet form that inhibits the action of estrogen on the pituitary gland, causing it to release more FSH which may results in the development of more than one follicle. Brand names: Clomid, Serophene. Sometimes abbreviated CC


Brand of clomiphene


Freezing sperm, oocytes, or embryos for prolonged storage and later use

Donor insemination

Placement of sperm from an anonymous or known individual into the uterus of a women who is not the partner of the donor. Typically, sperm is extensively screened for sexually transmitted diseases and quarantined for 6 months and stored frozen. Commonly used for severe male factor infertility or people without a male partner.

Donor oocytes

Eggs obtained after gonadotropin stimulation and follicle aspiration from an anonymous or known individual. Typically used to address insufficient egg production or the lack of egg production in the intended mother.


Diminished Ovarian reserve-Ovarian reserve roughly equates to how many eggs are left in the ovaries. If ovarian reserve is diminished, it could be a sign that the ovaries are “old”, meaning that menopause is approaching

Embryo cryopreservation

Embryos stored in a frozen state for future use. (Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the embryos.) Excess embryos from IVF typically are frozen at the 2 pronuclear stage (sperm and egg nuclei are not yet joined) or the blastocyst stage (day 5 or 6 of development).


Estradiol blood test.  Estradiol is a hormone produced by the growing follicle and triggers LH (Luteinizing Hormone)


Egg donation/Egg donor


Study of glands and hormones, and of their disorders


Frozen embryo transfer


Fluid-filled ovarian cyst containing an egg


Brand of gonadotropic medication containing FSH


Follicle Stimulating Hormone-FSH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland and initiates the growth of follicles in women and sperm production in men.  Injectable medications contain this hormone.


Reproductive cells i.e. eggs and sperm.  When they unite they form a zygote.


Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone-This hormone is responsible for releasing FSH


Hormones secreted by the pituitary that cause egg development and ovulation.  They include LH, FSH, and HCG.   Hormone medications include Repronex, Follistim, Gonal F, Bravelle, and Menopur

Gonal F

Brand of gonadotropic medication containing FSH


Brand of gonadotropic medication containing FSH


Intracytoplasmic sperm injection-direct injection of 1 sperm into the egg


Into the interior of a cell, specifically, the egg


Into the fallopian tube (the tube connecting the ovary to the uterus)


Intrauterine Insemination-(AKA Artificial Insemination) The process of placing sperm, which has been separated from the semen, directly into a woman’s uterus with a small catheter to facilitate fertilization on the day of ovulation  DIUI= Donor Intrauterine Insemination


In vitro fertilization (fertilization outside of the body)


Luteinizing Hormone -A hormone that surges mid cycle, stimulating the ovaries to produce estrogen and ovulate. In men it stimulates testosterone production needed to produce sperm.


Last menstrual period (the start date).  Also called cycle day one.


Brand of gonadotropic medication containing FSH and LH


Epididymal sperm aspiration -used to obtain sperm from men with blockage of the vasdefrens such as a vasectomy


Ovulation induction. Usually done with pills such as Clomid or Clomiphene citrate.


Ovulation Predictor Kit.  This kits tests for your LH surge. Found over the counter in pharmacies and grocery stores.

Ovarian Reserve

A woman’s reproductive potential with respect to ovarian follicles and oocyte quality.  Ovarian reserve decreases with increased age.


The release of an egg from the ovary

Ovulation Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

A complication occasionally seen in women who take certain medications that stimulate egg production


Progesterone Level


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- A Hormonal imbalance in women that may cause many small cysts in the ovaries, changes in the menstrual cycle, changes in the skin, hair, weight and/or insulin resistance

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)

Removal of one or two cells from an embryo for rapid analysis to avoid placing an embryo carrying a known genetic disease (e.g., muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, Tay-Sachs) or a chromosomal abnormality (e.g., Down syndrome) within the uterus


A female hormone produced by the ovaries in the second half of the menstrual cycle.  Progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus for implantation and helps sustain a pregnancy.

Recurrent pregnancy loss

Loss of two or more pregnancies before 20 weeks of pregnancy


Brand of gonadotropic medication containing FSH and LH


Reproductive Health Specialists


Brand of clomiphene

Sonohysterogram (SonoHSG)

A minimally invasive ultrasound technique that provides pictures of the inside of the uterus


Thyroid Stimulating Hormone


Trying to conceive


Urine Pregnancy Test


A varicose vein of the testicles, which may cause fertility issues


Fertilized egg before cell division begins