Glossary of Terms

ABCDEFGHI • J • KLM • N • OP • Q • RSTUVW • X • YZAcronyms


American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM):

The nationally and internationally recognized leader for multidisciplinary information, education, advocacy and standards in the field of reproductive medicine

Anonymous Donor:

A person who donated sperm or eggs with the intention of never meeting resulting children.

Antral Follicle Count:

A procedure done via ultrasound that is used to predict IVF success rates and response to ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs and ovarian reserve (egg count)

Artificial Insemination

A procedure in which a catheter (tube) is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to directly deposit a sperm sample. It is the deliberate introduction of sperm into a female’s cervix for the purpose of achieving a pregnancy.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART):

Any treatment or procedure that involves surgically removing eggs from ovaries and combining the eggs with sperm to help achieve pregnancy. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is sometimes also considered an ART procedure, even though it does not involve the manipulation of eggs.


Basal Body Temperature Test (BBT):

Indirect evidence of ovulation can be obtained with the basal body temperature chart. The temperature can be taken orally with a special thermometer immediately upon awakening and before any activity. This is recorded on a special graph that enables you to visualize the different temperature shifts. The temperature will drop to its lowest point, 1-2 days prior to ovulation, and then rises and remains elevated until a couple of days before impending menstruation. If the individual is pregnant the temperature will remain elevated. This elevation is not considered a fever because it will never exceed 38ºC (100ºF). This test is unfortunately not very reliable in every woman and is therefore not used universally.


An embryo that has undergone multiple cellular divides with the formation of a cavity within. This stage generally happens between 4 - 5 days after the fertilization.

Body Mass Index (BMI):

A measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. Use this link to calculate your BMI:



Also called fertilization – when the sperm meets and penetrates the egg


A situation where individuals who are not married or in a romantic relationship raise a child or children together

Corpus Luteum:

A hormone-secreting structure that develops in an ovary right after an ovum (egg) has been discharged. The Corpus Luteum degenerates a few days after a pregnancy has begun.


A process by which embryos, eggs or sperm are frozen at very low temperatures in a substance such as liquid nitrogen in order to keep them viable for an extended period of time.


Directed egg donation:

Also known as Open egg donation. This is when the intended parent(s) and the egg donor can meet via a video call of in-person. The donor and the intended parents will exchange contact information and have an open line of communication between them.


A person who donates sperm or egg to help another person become pregnant.

Donor Insemination:

The introduction of sperm from a donor into a woman’s vagina or cervix using instruments, in order to achieve a pregnancy. The term is preferred in the LGBTQ community over “artificial insemination” as it does not imply there is something “artificial” about this method of conception.

Donor Oocyte

Women with diminished ovarian reserve or premature menopause have an extremely low likelihood of establishing a pregnancy. For that reason, eggs from a young donor can be utilized. Donor egg pregnancy rates, in our experience, have been greater than 70% per cycle.

Donor sperm:

Commercially available donor sperm which is screened for all known sexually transmitted diseases, is available from many suppliers. Patients select their own donor for insemination.

Donor Siblings:

People who are biologically related to one another by having the same sperm or egg donor.


Ectopic Pregnancy (also called Tubal Pregnancy):

A normal pregnancy results when the embryo implants inside the uterus. When implantation occurs outside the uterus, an ectopic pregnancy ensues. Such an abnormal pregnancy can be located in the tubes, the ovaries, the cervix or inside the abdomen.


The mature female gamete. Also called an oocyte.

Egg Donor:

A woman who donates her ova (egg) for use in in vitro fertilization

Egg Donation:

The process by which a fertile woman provides one or many eggs (ova or oocytes) to an infertile woman for the use in assisted reproduction.

Egg Retrieval

Minimally invasive procedure to retrieve eggs for in vitro fertilization (IVF) using ultrasound guided needle aspiration through the vagina. The procedure typically takes 30 - 45 minutes and is painless because of intravenous and local pain medicines.


The developing individual resulting from fertilization of an egg (oocyte) with a sperm from approximately the second week until approximately the end of the second month.


A scientist who specializes is embryo development.

Embryo Replacement:

Introduction of a thawed embryo into a woman’s uterus after in vitro fertilization.

Embryo Transfer (ET):

A simple medical procedure following in vitro fertilization that involves introduction of a fertilized egg (embryo) into the uterus following in vitro fertilization, using a small catheter inserted through the cervix.


The presence of endometrial tissue (the normal uterine lining) in abnormal locations such as the tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity.


The lining of the uterus.


Fallopian Tube:

A pair of tubes that conduct the egg from the ovary to the uterus. Normal fertilization takes place within this structure.

Fertility Preservation:

An effort to help individuals retain their ability to reproduce often involving cryopreservation of egg or sperm. Recommended in the transgender community prior to medical transition.


The unification of sperm and egg to form a zygote (the earliest stage of human life). The zygote would then become an embryo, and then a fetus.


A fertilized egg is called a zygote. Further cellular division and differentiation yields an embryo. Once organic differentiation occurs, i.e., the embryo acquires human-like features, it is called a fetus.

First-time egg donor:

Someone who is completing an egg donation cycle for the first time.


The fluid-filled sac on the ovary that has nurtured the egg and from which the egg is released during ovulation, or aspiration.

Follicular Phase:

The first half of the menstrual cycle when ovarian follicle development takes place, pre-ovulatory.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH):

A hormone produced and released from the pituitary gland that stimulates the ovary to ripen a follicle for ovulation. This hormone also stimulates sperm production in the male.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET):

A simple medical procedure where an embryo that was previously cryogenically frozen is thawed and placed into the uterus using a small catheter inserted through the cervix.



These are an organism’s reproductive cells. They are also referred to as sex cells. The Female gametes are called ova or egg cells, and male gametes are called sperm.

Gestational Carrier or Gestational Surrogate:

A woman who carries a pregnancy for an intended parent or parents and who has no genetic link to the baby or babies born as a result of her pregnancy. The surrogate is not the biological mother of the baby conceived

Gestational Surrogacy:

The process whereby intended parent(s) and a gestational surrogate enter into a contractual agreement for the surrogate to carry the baby of the biological parents.

Gestational Surrogacy Agreement (GSA):

The gestational surrogacy agreement (also known as the contract, is one of the most important pieces of every surrogacy process. The GSA guides the entire surrogacy journey, clearly outlining each party's rights, roles and responsibilities before, during and after the pregnancy.


The period of fetal development in the womb from implantation to birth

GnRH Analogues:

Medication used to suppress the natural production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) in order to control the menstrual cycle and improve the quality of eggs retrieved.


Synthetic forms of pituitary hormones used to stimulate the growth of follicles in the ovaries, which nourish the eggs (oocytes). Follicle growth is needed during stimulation to produce healthy eggs.


Human Chorionic Gonadotropins (hCG):

The major hormone secreted by the placenta. In the early stages of pregnancy continued survival of the Corpus Luteum (the follicle that released the egg) is totally dependent on HCG, and in turn, the survival of the pregnancy is dependent upon hormones secreted by the Corpus Luteum.


Inadequate ovarian or testicular function.

Hyperstimulation (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome – OHSS):

A potentially life-threatening side effect of ovulation induction with injectable fertility medications such as hMG and urofollitropins. A woman’s ovaries become enlarged and produce an overabundance of eggs. Blood hormone levels rise, fluid may collect in the lungs or abdominal cavity, and ovarian cyst may rupture, causing internal bleeding. Blood clots sometimes develop. Symptoms include sudden weight gain and abdominal pain. Cycles stimulated with these drugs must be carefully monitored with ultrasound scans. OHSS may be prevented by withholding the hCG injection when ultrasound monitoring indicates that too many follicles have matured



This occurs when a fertilized egg or eggs attach to the wall of the uterus at the beginning of pregnancy.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):

A procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg prior to IVF.

Intended Parents (IPs):

Prospective parents using egg donation, surrogacy, assisted reproductive technology (ART), or pursuing adoption

Intrauterine Insemination:

Sometimes called artificial insemination or donor insemination, IUI is a medical procedure that involves placing sperm via a tube directly into an individual’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The sperm can come from a partner or a donor and is performed in a doctor’s office.

Intravaginal Insemination (IVI):

Another form of artificial insemination or donor insemination, IVI is the non-surgical, minimally invasive process of placing sperm directly into the vagina. This method can often be done at home without medical providers.

Invitro Fertilization (IVF or IVF-ET):

A procedure in which eggs are removed transvaginally from an individual’s ovarian follicle, fertilized artificially outside of the body with sperm in a laboratory dish. The resulting embryos are then transferred into a uterus through the cervix. IVF can also be utilized in conjunction with donor eggs or donor embryos.


The embedding of the fertilized egg in the endometrium.


The inability to conceive children. Determined by engaging in unprotected intercourse for more than one year without establishing a pregnancy (6 months for women over age 35).
Intramuscular Injection: Injection into the muscle of the backside. Method to administer human menopausal gonadotropins and hCG.


Known Donor:

A sperm or egg donor whose identity is known to the individuals who were created with the donor’s genetic material.


Luteinizing hormone (LH):

A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland involved in the control of ovulation. The role of LH is to trigger ovulation and help prepare the endometrial lining for implantation.


Known medically as a GnRH-ag onist (see GnRH). Lupron is a commonly used medication in IVF and also for the treatment of severe endometriosis or large uterine fibroids. Lupron taken continuously either by daily subcutaneous (under the skin) injections or monthly intramuscularly depot injections will suppress the pituitary-ovarian axis. Simply stated, it will make the ovaries “go to sleep” and stop functioning, therefore stopping the secretion of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Lupron is frequently used in IVF to prevent premature ovulation.

Luteal Phase:

The last fourteen days of the menstrual cycle after ovulation has occurred. It is associated with progesterone production. Post-ovulatory.

Luteal phase defect:

Inadequate progesterone production or effect that does not allow normal implantation. Cause of recurrent pregnancy loss. Diagnosed by two consecutive out of phase endometrial biopsies, or repetitively low serum progesterone levels in the mid-luteal phase.



Total depletion of eggs resulting in the cessation of menstrual periods. The average age of menopause in the United States is 52 years and 50 years for smokers.


Shedding of the uterine lining by bleeding, which (in the absence of pregnancy) normally occurs about once a month in the mature female.

Miscarriage (spontaneous abortion; pregnancy loss):

Spontaneous loss of an embryo or fetus from the womb.



Low sperm count.


The egg produced in the ovaries each month. Also called the ovum (gamete).


Infrequent ovulation.


Low sperm count.

Open egg donation:

also known as directed egg donation. This is when the intended parent(s) and the egg donor can meet via a video call of in-person. The donor and the intended parents will exchange contact information and have an open line of communication between them.

Ovarian Failure:

The inability of the ovary to respond to any hormone – this is usually due to menopause.

Ovarian reserve:

The number and quality of eggs remaining in a woman. Ovarian reserve diminishes over time, especially in the transition from the late 30’s to the early 40’s. Ovarian reserve can be assessed with measurement of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) on cycle day 3, or by a Clomiphene citrate challenge test.

Ovarian Stimulation:

Fertility medications are used in the introductory stage of treatment. They are designed to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs (oocytes) rather than the single egg that normally matures during a natural menstrual cycle. Stimulation is achieved through medications such as GnRH Analogues, Gonadotropins (FSH), and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG).


Female gamete (egg). Often called sex cell


The female sex glands with both a reproductive function (releasing eggs) and a hormone function (producing estrogen and progesterone).


The release of a mature egg from the surface of the ovary. Ovulation is triggered when a follicle measures between 16 and 20 mm.

Ovulation Induction:

Use of medication to recruit and develop many eggs. Clomiphene citrate, Lupron, and injectable FSH are used for ovulation induction and IVF. Frequently coupled with intrauterine inseminations.

Ovulatory Dysfunction:

A problem with the ovary where the egg is not matured or released properly.


The egg.

Open Identity Donor (also known as “Identity Release Donor”, “Willing-to-be-known Donor”):

A donor who donated sperm or egg with the intention of having his or her identity and contact information released to the children the donation created when the children turn 18.


Pelvic Ultrasound:

A non-invasive diagnostic exam that allows quick visualization of the female pelvic organs, including the uterus, cervix, vagina, fallopian tubes and ovaries.


The placenta is an organ that develops in our uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to your growing baby and removes waste products from your baby’s blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of your uterus, and our baby’s umbilical cord arises from it.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):

A hormonal disorder of the ovaries that may affect those attempting to get pregnant. People with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess androgen levels. The formation of cysts in the ovaries that occurs when the follicle stops developing. This is due to a hormonal imbalance in the ovary. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

Pre-Birth Order (PBO):

Court document that establishes parentage and is also signed by the surrogate. This allows the bio parent(s) to be on the birth certificate. Protects the rights of the bio-parents.

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD, PGS, PGT):

An advanced technique that involves checking the cells (via biopsy) of a developing embryo for genetic and chromosomal abnormalities and thus helping to prevent serious transmissible genetic diseases. PGD is also used to determine the baby’s sex.

Premature Ovarian Failure (POF):

Cessation of menstruation due to depletion of ovarian follicles before the age of 40. It is a cause for infertility requiring egg donation.

Primary Infertility (PI):

Refers to those struggling with infertility without ever having conceived. Popular usage has been extended to include those who have conceived but not had a live birth.


The hormone secreted by the Corpus Luteum that makes the uterus prepare its lining to receive the egg.


A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. Its major role is to control milk production. Excess secretion can interfere with normal ovulation. This is why Prolactin levels are checked in every woman during the evaluation process for infertility.


The gland in the male that supplies some of the seminal fluid and prepares the urethra for the passage of sperm.

Proven egg donor:

someone who has gone through the egg donation process from start to finish and the cycle resulted in a viable pregnancy.


Reciprocal In Vitro Fertilization (R-IVF, Co-maternity):

Couples where both individuals have a uterus and/or eggs may choose to retrieve the eggs from one partner, inseminate those eggs with donor sperm and then have the resulting embryo(s) placed into the other partner.

Recombinant FSH:

Injectable gonadotropin used for ovulation induction and In Vitro Fertilization. Can be administered subcutaneously. Results in recruitment and growth of many follicles and eggs.

Recurrent pregnancy loss:

Two or three consecutive miscarriages.

Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE):

Obstetrician-Gynecologists specializing in reproductive endocrine disorders and infertility who have undergone additional fellowship training (usually a two-year fellowship and research in Reproductive Endocrinology.

Retroverted Uterus:

Uterus that is tilted back toward the rectum.


Second Parent Adoption:

A second-parent adoption allows a second parent to adopt a child without the "first parent" losing any parental rights. In this way, the child comes to have two legal parents. It also typically grants adoptive parents the same rights as biological parents in custody and visitation matters.

Secondary Infertility:

The inability to conceive after the birth of one or more children. This includes those for whom the pregnancy did not go to term


The sperm and seminal secretions ejaculated during orgasm by the male.

Semen Analysis:

The microscopic examination of semen to determine the number of sperm (sperm count) as well as their shape (morphology) and movement (motility).

Seminal Vesicle:

The pair of pouch-like glands around the prostate that produce the milky fluid that mixes with the sperm prior to ejaculation.

Semen Viscosity:

The liquid flow or consistency of the semen.

Septate uterus:

A uterus divided into right and left halves by a wall of tissue (septum). Women with a septate uterus have an increased chance of early pregnancy loss.

Single Embryo Transfer (SET):

The implantation of only one fertilized embryo into the uterus of either an intended parent or a gestational carrier via IVF to reduce the chances of multiples.

Sperm (Spermatozoa):

Male reproductive cells (gamete).


The production of sperm.

Sperm Count:

The number of sperm in ejaculate. Also called sperm concentration or sperm density and given as the number of sperm per milliliter.

Sperm Morphology:

A semen analysis factor that indicates the number or percentage of sperm in the sample that appear to have been formed normally. Abnormal morphology includes sperm with kinked, doubled, or coiled tails. The higher the percentage of misshapen sperm, the less likely fertilization can take place.

Sperm Motility:

The ability of sperm to swim. Poor motility means the sperm have a difficult time swimming toward their goal—the egg.

Sperm Washing:

This process uses a centrifuge to separate out good, or viable sperm from dead, abnormally-shaped, and slow-moving sperm, as well as the surrounding seminal fluid. Standard sperm washing is typically done prior to IUI, and IVF procedures. An additional purification process can also be done to remove HIV from semen.

Spontaneous Abortion:

A miscarriage that is caused by nature. It can have several causes, such as a genetically abnormal fetus.


Using fertility medications to stimulate the growth of multiple follicles for ovulation. Also known as Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation (COH).


One appointed to act in place of another. A surrogate mother agrees to bear a child for another person or persons who will become the parent(s) of the child born through the surrogacy cycle


A sexually transmitted disease.


Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE):

Surgical removal of testicular tissue that may serve as a source of living sperm to be utilized in an ART procedure.


The main hormone secreted by the testicles which is responsible for male characteristics, such as beard growth, deep voice, and sperm maturation.

Traditional Carrier or Traditional Surrogate:

An individual who carries a pregnancy for an intended parent or parents achieved by using the surrogate’s egg and a donor or the intended parent’s sperm. Traditional surrogates have a genetic link to the baby or babies born as a result of the pregnancy.

Trans-vaginal Aspiration:

A method of obtaining eggs by needle aspiration through the vagina.

Trigger Shot:

This is an injection of hormones that signals the ovaries to mature and release eggs (triggers ovulation). The shot contains human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that sends a trigger to the ovaries to mature and release the eggs. The shot kick-starts the process of the eggs maturing to help them become capable of fertilization.

Tubal Ligation:

Surgical sterilization of a woman by obstructing or tying the fallopian tubes.

Tubal Patency:

Unobstructed Fallopian Tubes.

Tubal Pregnancy:

The development and attachment of a fertilized egg in a fallopian tube (see Ectopic Pregnancy).
Ultrasound: Radiographic method for measurement of ovarian follicle growth and uterine lining thickness during ovulation induction and in vitro fertilization. Follicles, which contain eggs, are easily visualized. Transvaginal ultrasound is also used to guide embryo transfer catheter for perfect placement of embryos during IVF.


Umbilical Cord:

Two arteries and one vein encased in a gelatinous tube leading from the baby to the placenta. Used to exchange nutrients and oxygen from the mother for waste products from the baby.
Unexplained Infertility: Also called idiopathic infertility, a cause or combination of causes resulting in an inability to conceive which cannot be explained or diagnosed. Unexplained infertility often responds to treatments such as IVF.

Unknown Donor:

Similar to “anonymous donor,” this describes a person who donated sperm or eggs with the intention of never meeting resulting children. The word “unknown” as recently replaced “anonymous,” as genetic testing is now so commonplace that no donor can be guaranteed true anonymity.


A physician/surgeon specializing in the urinary tract and male reproductive tract.

Uterine receptivity:

The ability of the uterus to allow for an embryo to implant. Uterus is receptive only during the window of implantation, from six to ten days after ovulation.

Uterine Septum:

The presence of a thick membrane that separates the uterine cavity either partially or completely into two separate cavities. A septum can interfere with normal implantation and cause recurrent pregnancy loss.


The reproductive organ that houses, protects and nourishes the developing embryo/fetus.



A tubular passageway in the female connecting the external sex organs with the cervix and uterus.


An abnormal dilatation of the veins surrounding the testes. They are present in 25% of infertile males. Because of this blood pooling, testicular temperature is raised, which is detrimental to sperm.


The surgical separation of both vas deferens. A procedure used for birth control/sterilization.


The thickness of semen.


Window of implantation:

The time during the menstrual cycle when the uterus will allow implantation of an embryo. The uterus is only receptive from six to ten days after ovulation.



The cell resulting after fertilization of the oocyte by the sperm. e.g. A fertilized egg which has not yet divided.

Acronyms Often Used Online When Trying to Conceive (TTC)


Two Week Wait, the period of time between ovulation and taking a pregnancy test


Aunt Flo, a euphemism for a period or menstruation cycle


Basal Body Temperature. Since there is a slight increase in your basal body temperature just after ovulation, some individuals take their temperature before getting out of bed each morning to better track their cycle when trying to conceive.


Big Fat Negative (“not pregnant”) result on a pregnancy test.


Big Fat Positive. (“pregnant”) result on a pregnancy test.


Blood test to confirm pregnancy.


Cycle Day. Cycle Day 1 is the first day of menstruation.

CF (also know as CM):

Cervical Fluid or cervical mucus


Cervical Mucus, (also referred to as cervical fluid) is produced during your cycle. Your mucus increases in amount and consistency throughout your cycle. It is the most fertile when it is clear and stretchy.


Cervical position

DH (or DP or SO):

Dear Husband, Dear Partner, Significant Other. The partner of a pregnant person.


The countdown - Days past Ovulation. Signifies the 10-14 days before a pregnancy test shows a BFP


Do the deed (sex)!


Embryo cryopreservation (the freezing of embryos)


Egg Donor


Estimated Delivery Date or due date.


Egg white cervical mucus


First Morning Urine. The first morning urine contains the highest levels of hCG. A pregnancy test is able to detect pregnancy sooner with a higher concentration of hCG than with urine used after your FMU.


First Time Mom. A pregnant woman who has not been pregnant before.


Female To Male. A transgender person who was assigned female at birth and identifies as a man.


Fingers crossed


Gestational Carrier


Gestational Surrogate


Happy and healthy nine months.


Human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that is created during pregnancy. It originates from a growing embryo immediately after conception then by the placenta. After implantation, the placenta emits hCG into your bloodstream and can be detected by a pregnancy test.


Home pregnancy tests

Intrauterine insemination (IUI):

Intrauterine insemination: artificially inserting sperm into an egg via a catheter into your uterus, in the hopes of a BFP.


Intended parent.


Luteinizing Hormone – this is what the ovulation tests pick up.


Last menstrual period.


Little One. In reference to someone’s baby.

MC: Miscarriage:

Spontaneous abortion – the term no one wants to hear.


Morning sickness, or sometimes all day sickness. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to smell, and fatigue. Saltines help!

O or O’d:

Ovulation, or when the egg is released from the ovary. Ovulation usually occurs approximately 14 days before the next menstrual period is due.


Ovum Donor (Clinical term for Egg Donor)


Ovulation predictor kit




Pee on a Stick, used in reference to taking an at-home pregnancy test.


Prenatal Vitamin.

RE (or REI):

Reproductive Endocrinologist, Infertility specialist.


Sperm donor


Trying to Conceive. This refers to people who are actively attempting to get pregnant.

US or U/S:



Two Week Wait, the period of time between ovulation and taking a pregnancy test.

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