Deciphering Infertility: Common Infertility Acronyms and Abbreviations

If you are trying to get pregnant and considering fertility treatments, there are a lot of things that may have you feeling confused and overwhelmed. While there are a lot of technical terms you might not be familiar with, your fertility specialist and healthcare team can help you thoroughly understand what is happening in regards to your condition and treatment. However, it can’t hurt to go into the process knowing about some of the language used. Here are some of the most common infertility acronyms and abbreviations that you may see or hear during your journey to conception: 

Treatments and Testing

Beta pregnancy test (Beta): A blood test for hCG hormone, which increases in the early stages of pregnancy can determine pregnancy status and progress.

In vitro fertilization (IVF): A fertility treatment, or assisted reproduction, in which a sperm and egg are combined for fertilization in a lab rather than within the uterus. If fertilization is successful, the embryo is then transferred to the uterus. Then the embryo must implant in the uterine lining to result in a viable pregnancy.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): This treatment is used when the quality or quantity of the sperm is not good enough to successfully fertilize an egg on its own. A single healthy sperm is chosen and injected directly into the egg.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI): A fertility treatment in which sperm is placed directly inside a woman’s uterus for fertilization. Used to decrease the distance sperm must travel to the egg and therefore make fertilization more likely

Preconception genetic screening (PGS): Used in conjunction with IVF. This is a new and innovative procedure that can be used to choose which embryos for transfer into the uterus based on the presence or absence of genetic disorders and chromosomal abnormalities.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): These test screens parents for genetic diseases and syndromes. Used to identify the likelihood of passing on traits that can cause serious diseases in their children.

Semen analysis (SA): This test is performed prior to a fertility treatment cycle. The sperm is evaluated to see how likely it is to successfully fertilize an egg. Sperm count, motility (how it moves), and morphology (the physical structure) are analyzed.

Ultrasound (US): Can be used to check for abnormalities in the pelvic structures such as the uterus and ovaries. Ultrasounds can also be used for ovarian reserve testing.


Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG/B-hCG): A hormone produced during pregnancy. In the early stages of pregnancy, the levels of hCG will increase steadily. Monitoring hCG levels can indicate that the pregnancy is progressing at a healthy rate.

Estradiol (E2): The level of estrogen, which is related to how many follicles are present in the ovaries. E2 levels are used as an indicator of how well fertility medications are working and can be used to predict how many eggs will be released during a cycle for retrieval.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Released by the brain to stimulate ovarian follicles to grow and develop. Follicles are the structures within the ovaries that contain a maturing egg.

Luteinizing hormone (LH): A rise of LH levels (or the “LH surge”) triggers ovulation in women.

Progesterone (P4): Reproductive hormone used to determine if ovulation has already occurred and when it occurred. It can also be used to determine if a pregnancy is ectopic, is progressing normally, or if a miscarriage has occurred.

Causes and Conditions

Endometriosis (ENDO): A condition caused by endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus. If the tissue attaches to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other organs in the abdominal cavity, endometriosis can cause infertility.

Male factor infertility (MF): Refers to infertility on the part of the biologically male parent. It can be caused by sperm production issues, structural abnormalities in sperm, problems ejaculating, and other disorders.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): This is a very rare complication of ovarian stimulation with fertility treatments. In OHSS the ovaries become enlarged and fluid develops in the abdomen.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A disorder in which the ovaries produce excess amounts of male hormones, causing the development of cysts on the ovaries and hormonal imbalance that hinders ovulation.

Secondary Infertility (SI): The inability to become pregnant after a successful pregnancy and the birth of at least one biological child conceived without the aid of fertility treatments.

Other Terms

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL): Two or more spontaneous pregnancy losses in a row before reaching 20 weeks.

Trying to conceive (TTC): By physician definition, the amount of time spent TTC is measured from when the couple begins having regular, unprotected intercourse, whether they are intentionally trying to become pregnant or not. People other than doctors may assume TTC time only includes the time when they have been intentionally trying.

Two-week wait (2WW): The time frame is used to ensure that a pregnancy test’s result is accurate. Two weeks is the average amount of time it takes between when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall and when the levels of hCG hormone it releases will be high enough to be detected by a beta pregnancy test.


We know that starting out on a fertility journey can be intimidating and confusing at first. At Laurel Fertility, we will work with you one-on-one to demystify the process and keep you educated and informed every step of the way. We’ll make sure you always know what’s happening and are happy to answer any questions you might have. To make an appointment, you can call 415-673-9199 or request an appointment online.