Infertility Jargon: Acronyms You Should Know

If you are seeking fertility treatment you’ll find that there are unfamiliar terms and jargon used. While there are treatment related terms such as IVF, IUI and ICSI that patients commonly come across, what are other terms that are important for patients to know and to learn about? Here are some of the most important infertility acronyms to know handpicked by Dr. Shahryar Kavoussi and Dr. Parviz Kavoussi:

Female Fertility Acronyms

AMH: Antimüllerian Hormone – an ovarian reserve test that is a serum biomarker that is produced by granulosa cells of the ovary and reflects oocyte quantity, ovarian response to injectable fertility medications that are used o grow follicles, and potentially oocyte quality as well.

DOR: Diminished Ovarian Reserve – decreased oocyte quantity, quality, and/or suboptimal ovarian response to injectable fertility medications that are used to grow follicles.

FSH: Follicle Stimulating Hormone – a hormonal signal from a part of the brain, called the pituitary gland, which primarily functions to recruit follicle(s) to grow

hCG: human Chorionic Gonadotropin – the hormone that is produced primarily by an embryo, which, when detected in a female’s bloodstream, indicates implantation and chemical evidence of pregnancy.

HSG: Hysterosalpingogram – an imaging study, performed after the menstrual flow has stopped and days before ovulation, which involves the injection of iodine contrast dye transcervically in order to evaluate the shape of the uterine cavity as well as to determine fallopian tube patency status.

LAH: Laser Assisted Hatching – a technique performed by embryologists, which involves the use of a pinpoint laser to create an opening in the zona pellucida, which the name for the “shell” that covers an embryo. LAH is performed in select cases in order to help with embryo biopsy for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) and/or to help facilitate embryo implantation.

LH: Luteinizing Hormone – the pituitary gland hormone that, in lower amounts, is necessary to help with formation of androgens which are then converted to estrogens in the body. An LH surge and peak facilitates final maturation of an oocyte as well as ovulation. This is the main hormone of interest when urinary ovulation predictor kits are checked.

PCOS: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – an androgen/estrogen imbalance and can have a wide variety of clinical manifestations, and is clinically diagnosed by at least two of the following clinical criteria: oligomenorrhea/amenorrhea (infrequent/absent periods), hirsutism/hyperandrogenemia (increased hair growth for example on upper lip,chin, chest/androgens by blood testing), and polycystic-appearing ovaries typically visualized by transvaginal sonogram (TVS).

PGT: Preimplantation Genetic Testing – Biopsy of a few cells from the trophectoderm (potential placental tissue) portion of a blastocyst-stage embryo can be performed by embryologists in have genetic testing (chromosome analysis and/or gene mutation testing) that would give information about the potential health of the embryo.

RPL: Recurrent pregnancy loss – two or more miscarriages that occur at 20 weeks of gestation or sooner.

SIS: Saline Infusion Sonogram – an imaging study, performed after the menstrual flow has stopped and days before ovulation, which involved the injection of saline transcervically in order to evaluate the shape of the uterine cavity and since it is performed under transvaginal sonogram (TVS) guidance, the uterine muscle (myometrium), endometrial lining, and ovaries can be visualized at that time as well.

TSH: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone – the pituitary hormone that stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone. When TSH levels are elevated above the normal range, thyroid hormone production is low, indicating hypothyroidism; when TSH levels are lower that the normal range, thyroid hormone production is high, indicating hyperthyroidism.

TVS: Transvaginal Sonogram – an imaging study that is performed in order to evaluate the uterine myometrium, endometrial lining, and ovaries.

Male Fertility Acronyms

ASA: Antisperm antibodies – ASA’s may be present attached to sperm cells when a man’s own immune system attacks his sperm cells because they are not recognized as being self but as being foreign. They can impact fertility in certain circumstances by not allowing the sperm to penetrate the egg or may impact the sperms ability to swim.

CBAVD: Congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens – this is a condition where the vas deferens, the tubes carrying sperm out from the testicle, do not form on either side in some men. These men need genetic testing for cystic fibrosis carrier status, as do their female partner before considering sperm retrieval from the testicle for use with IVF/ICSI.

CF: Cystic fibrosis – the fertility implications are stated above.

FSH: Follicle stimulating hormone – this is the signaling hormone made by the pituitary gland to signal the testicles to make sperm.

LH: Luteinizing hormone – this is the signaling hormone made by the pituitary gland to signal the testicles to make testosterone.

microTESE: Microdissection testicular sperm extraction – A very high level microsurgical search thought the testicle for sperm in men who have a sperm count of zero due to a sperm production failure. Once isolated, this sperm may be used with IVF/ICSI.

SA: Semen analysis – the cornerstone of male fertility evaluation. Laboratory assessment of semen volume, sperm counts, the ability of sperm to swim (motility) and the percentage of sperm with normal shapes (morphology).

SDF: Sperm DNA fragmentation – An adverse impact on sperm DNA that can impact fertilization capability, pregnancy rates, and can increase miscarriage rates. It is typically treatable.

TESE: Testicular sperm extraction – A technique used to obtain sperm from the testicle in a man with a blockage not allowing the sperm to get out, such as in men who have had a vasectomy or with CBAVD.

WBC: White blood cells – WBCs are a marker of infection or inflammation. When seen in the semen in high numbers they may create reactive oxygen species that can impact the function of sperm and should be treated.