Getting pregnant terms you need to know

Getting pregnant terms you need to know

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It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the acronyms and medical lingo you encounter when you're trying to get pregnant. Are you charting your BBT? Considering taking clomiphene? Wondering what the ladies in the forum mean when they rant about the 2WW?

Whether you're just getting started trying to conceive, looking for ways to boost your odds, diving into getting pregnant forums, or thinking about fertility treatments, our list will help you get a handle on the terms you're sure to hear.

Medical terms A-F

Artificial insemination. More commonly known as intrauterine insemination, or IUI. A fertility treatment in which sperm is put into the uterus through a long, thin tube at the time of ovulation. The success rate is lower than IVF, but IUI is a simpler, less expensive treatment.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART). Refers to all treatments that involve handling eggs or embryos outside of the body, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and a few of its variations. The procedures are usually paired with fertility drugs to increase success rates.

Basal body temperature (BBT). Your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period, estimated by taking your temperature with a BBT thermometer when you first wake in the morning. Some women track their BBT in order to estimate when they ovulate. The day after you ovulate, hormonal changes cause a subtle rise in your BBT, which lasts until your next period.

Blighted ovum. When a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but never develops into an embryo. There may be a missed period and a positive pregnancy test, followed by a miscarriage. Also known as anembryonic gestation or early pregnancy failure.

Bromocriptine. A drug that your doctor might prescribe if your body is producing too much prolactin, which can interfere with ovulation and cause irregular periods.

Cervical mucus (CM). A type of vaginal discharge that changes in texture, color, and amount during the course of your menstrual cycle, due to fluctuating hormone levels. Some women track their cervical mucus changes in order to tell when they're fertile.

Charting. Tracking your BBT, cervical mucus, and other symptoms can help you identify patterns in your menstrual cycle that may allow you to predict when you're likely to ovulate.

Clomiphene. A fertility drug that stimulates the production of eggs in women and can improve sperm count or quality in men. Often used before IUI or ART. Also known by the brand names Clomid and Serophene.

Ectopic pregnancy. When a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. This isn’t a viable pregnancy and can be dangerous, so ending the pregnancy is the only option. Also called "tubal" pregnancy because most ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube.

Egg freezing. A way to potentially extend your fertility by harvesting and banking your eggs to use when you're older. When you're ready to use them, your eggs are thawed and combined with sperm in a lab to create embryos, which are then placed in your uterus (the same procedure as IVF). Also known as oocyte cryopreservation.

Endometriosis. A condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside it, sometimes causing scarring and pain. About one-quarter of women with endometriosis have trouble conceiving.

Folic acid. A vitamin supplement recommended for all women of childbearing age. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for at least one month before conception greatly reduces the risk of neural-tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). A hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates the development of follicles (the structures in the ovary that contain the eggs) and plays a role in triggering ovulation.

Follicular phase. The stage of your menstrual cycle that starts with the onset of your period and ends with ovulation. During this stage, your ovary prepares to release an egg and your uterine lining builds up to prepare for a possible pregnancy. The phase has been found to range from nine to 21 days in women with 28-day cycles.

Medical terms G-L

Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). A fertility treatment similar to IVF, but instead of fertilization happening in a lab, sperm and eggs are placed into the fallopian tube through a small incision in the abdomen. Fertilization, if it happens, occurs inside your body, and the resulting embryo travels to and implants in the uterus. GIFT is rarely used today because it's more invasive and risky than IVF.

Genetic carrier screening. Testing that's done to see if you or your partner carry a genetic mutation that could cause a serious inherited disorder in your baby. It's best to get screened before you conceive so that, if you are carriers, you can consider your options (such as IVF or adoption) to maximize your chance of having a healthy baby.

Gestational surrogacy. When another woman carries and delivers a baby for you. The egg and sperm may be yours and your partner's or could come from donors.

Gonadotropins. A type of fertility drug that stimulates the ovaries to produce an egg (or several). Gonadotropins can also help men who have a hormonal imbalance linked to a low sperm count, or poor sperm quality. These are often used before IUI or ART if clomiphene hasn't helped.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A hormone produced by the developing placenta after the fertilized egg implants in your uterus. If a home pregnancy test detects this hormone in your urine, you'll get a positive result.

Hypogonadism. A sex hormone deficiency that prevents the testes from making sperm or the ovaries from releasing eggs. About 2 percent of men with infertility have this condition. It's the only fertility condition in men that's treatable with drugs.

In vitro fertilization (IVF). The most common high-tech fertility treatment. Eggs are combined with sperm in a laboratory. Once fertilization has occurred, the resulting embryos are assessed for quality, and one or more are placed in the uterus through the cervix. The rest may be frozen for later use or donated.

Infertility. You'll be diagnosed with infertility if you are of reproductive age and you haven't been able to get pregnant after trying for a year. Being infertile doesn't mean you'll never conceive; it's a medical label. Many couples dubbed infertile do go on to have a child, often with the help of fertility treatments.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). A technique used in IVF in which fertilization is achieved by injecting a single sperm directly into an egg. This approach can be helpful if you're facing issues with sperm quality or quantity, among other things.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI). A fertility treatment in which sperm is put into the uterus through a long, thin tube at the time of ovulation. The success rate is lower than IVF, but IUI is a simpler, less expensive treatment. (Also known as artificial insemination.)

Irregular period. A menstrual cycle that varies more than a few days in length from month to month. In some cases, an irregular period can signal a problem that may affect fertility.

Last menstrual period (LMP). The date of the first day of your last period. This is something your healthcare provider will want to know at your first prenatal appointment, as it helps to provide an initial estimate of your due date and how far along you are in your pregnancy.

Luteal phase. The stage of your menstrual cycle between ovulation and the start of your next period. It typically lasts about two weeks, but even among women with 28-day cycles, it varies widely and has been found to range from seven to 19 days. During this phase, higher levels of estrogen and progesterone prepare the lining of your uterus for a possible pregnancy. A short luteal phase has been linked to fertility troubles.

Luteinizing hormone (LH). A reproductive hormone that peaks just before you ovulate (also called an LH surge). This hormone is what urine-based ovulation predictor kits test for.

Medical terms M-Z

Miscarriage. The loss of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks. About 10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks. The medical term for a miscarriage is "spontaneous abortion."

Mittelschmerz. A sensation that some women report feeling in their ovaries around the time of ovulation. It can feel like a twinge of pain, cramps, or an ache and can last for a few minutes or a few days. (The word mittelschmerz is German for "middle pain.") Most women don't experience any physical symptoms when they ovulate.

Molar pregnancy. An abnormal pregnancy in which a fertilized egg develops into a growth called a mole (instead of into a normal embryo) and implants in the uterus. This usually triggers heavy vaginal bleeding in the first trimester. If you're diagnosed with a molar pregnancy, you'll need outpatient surgery to remove the abnormal tissue.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS occurs when fertility drugs overstimulate the ovaries and produce too many eggs. The condition is usually mild but, in rare cases, can be severe enough to require hospitalization. Common symptoms include weight gain and abdominal bloating or mild pain.

Ovulation. The time in your menstrual cycle when an egg (or, occasionally, more than one egg) is released from an ovary. You're most fertile from two days before you ovulate through the day of ovulation.

Ovulation predictor kit (OPK). A kit that can help you identify your most fertile days during your cycle. Urine-based kits test your pee for a rise in luteinizing hormone, which happens 24 to 36 hours before ovulation. Salivary ferning kits look at changes in your saliva caused by a rise in estrogen levels.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). A hormone-imbalance condition that prevents you from ovulating regularly and can lead to serious health problems. Other common symptoms include weight gain and extra hair growth. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women.

Preconception checkup. A complete medical history and physical exam done a few months to a year before you start trying to conceive. It helps you determine what steps you may need to take to become ready to have a baby, and it gives your healthcare provider helpful baseline info about your health.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). A procedure used to identify certain genetic defects in embryos before they're transferred to your uterus through IVF. Examples include genes for cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia.

Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). A procedure used to identify the number of chromosomes in embryos before they're transferred to your uterus through IVF. Only embryos with the normal number of chromosomes will be transferred, since they have a higher likelihood of implanting and developing into a healthy baby.

Resolve. A national nonprofit organization offering education, advocacy, and support for people coping with infertility and miscarriage.

Sperm allergy. A rare immune reaction to sperm that can cause itching, burning, swelling and other allergy symptoms within a few minutes to an hour after contact with semen. A sperm allergy does not affect fertility, but the symptoms can make sex uncomfortable or even dangerous. For women with severe symptoms, artificial insemination or IVF may be options.

Traditional surrogacy. When another woman, using her own eggs, gets pregnant and delivers a baby for you. (This is different from the more common scenario of gestational surrogacy, in which a woman carries a baby she's not genetically related to.)

Uterine fibroids. Tumors that grow from muscle tissue in the uterus. They're rarely cancerous but can sometimes cause symptoms like pain and bleeding and they may interfere with the ability to get pregnant. Also known as leiomyomas or myomas of the uterus.

Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT). A fertility treatment similar to GIFT, but the eggs are fertilized with sperm in the lab first, before being placed in a fallopian tube through a small incision in the abdomen. One or more fertilized eggs, called zygotes, must travel to and implant in your uterus. ZIFT and GIFT are the most invasive of fertility treatments, which is why they're rarely done anymore.

Common abbreviations in forums

If you join or lurk in any online groups – like the Getting Pregnant group in the our site Community – you'll see posts heavily peppered with acronyms. They may seem at first like another language, but you'll quickly get fluent. Some are abbreviations for the medical terms listed above, and others are a shorthand for useful TTC (trying to conceive) phrases.

If you're not quite sure what to make of “My DH and I DTD last week. I'm 5DPO and the 2WW is making me crazy! Fingers crossed for a BFP!” read on for a list of definitions to help you crack the code. You can find an even longer list of TTC acronyms and their meanings in the Getting Pregnant group.

2WW or TWW = Two-week wait (the time between ovulation and when you find out if you're pregnant)

AF = Aunt Flo (your period)

AO = Anovulatory (no ovulation)

Baby dust = Like "fairy dust" … a way to wish someone good luck in getting pregnant (e.g., "Baby dust to you!")

BBT = Basal body temperature

BC = Birth control

BD = Baby dance (i.e., have sex) or baby dust (good luck)

BFN = Big fat negative (negative result on a pregnancy test)

BFP = Big fat positive (positive result on a pregnancy test)

CBD = Clearblue Digital (a brand of pregnancy test)

CD = Cycle day (when cycle day 1 is the first day of your period)

CM = Cervical mucus

DTD = Do the deed (have sex)

DPO = Days past ovulation (when the day of ovulation is day zero)

EDD = Estimated due date

EWCM = Egg white cervical mucus (the mucus you have around the time of ovulation – slippery, clear, and stretchy like raw egg whites)

FMU = First morning urine (pee used for a pregnancy test first thing after waking up has a higher concentration of the pregnancy hormone hCG and is more likely to give you a positive result)

FRER = First Response Early Result (a brand of pregnancy test)

FX = Fingers crossed

HEDD = Hopeful estimated due date

HPT = Home pregnancy test

IB = Implantation bleeding (slight bleeding or spotting that may happen around the time an embryo implants in your uterus)

IC = Internet cheapy (low-cost home pregnancy test strip)

KMFX = Keeping my fingers crossed

LMP = Last menstrual period

LO = Little one (i.e., baby or child)

LP = Luteal phase

MC = Miscarriage

NTNP = Not trying, not preventing

O = Ovulation (O'd = Ovulated)

OPK = Ovulation predictor kit

PG = Pregnant

POAS = Pee on a stick (i.e., take a home pregnancy test)

Rainbow baby = A baby born after losing a child or pregnancy

RE = Reproductive endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in helping couples with infertility)

SA = Semen analysis (an assessment of sperm quantity, quality, and motility)

SD = Sperm donor

SHOW = Soft, high, open, and wet (how the cervix feels when you're approaching ovulation)

SMEP = Sperm meets egg plan (one author's suggested protocol for getting pregnant)

TI = Timed intercourse (i.e., having sex during your fertile window)

TTC = Trying to conceive

Watch the video: What to expect in your First Trimester of pregnancy. Pregnancy Week-by-Week (January 2023).

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