27 TTC Terms You Should Know

On your fertility journey you’ll most likely encounter terminology or acronyms that are downright confusing. To help make sense of these scientific terms and acronyms we’ve compiled this list of the most important TTC (trying-to-conceive) terms that you’ll encounter.

Hormones
Hormones, defined as “your body’s chemical messengers”, are released into your bloodstream and work in different organs or tissues to affect growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, and reproduction, among others. Many of the tests done during your journey will test different hormones and levels of hormones. 

The hormones you’ll most likely encounter while TTC, are:

  • ACTH (Adrenocorticotropic hormone) - If your ACTH levels are too high, it may cause fertility problems. 
  • Adrenal Androgens – Too much of this hormone may cause fertility problems in both males and females. High levels of androgens may be present in women with polycystic ovaries (meaning that the ovaries don’t release eggs regularly). 
  • Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) – The presence of this hormone is tested to make sure that your ovaries are still producing eggs. 
  • Estrogen(s)Estrogen hormones play an important role in stimulating the endometrium. The e2 level or estradiol level refers to the amount of estradiol (a form of estrogen) in the blood. 
  • Follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) – This hormone stimulates the ovarian follicles to mature and, in turn, mature eggs. In fertility treatments more than the usual number of follicles are matured and multiple eggs are released.  
  • Gonadotropins – A number of hormones, including LH and FSH, that act on the testes and ovaries to both increase the production of sex hormones and stimulate the production of sperm or ova (eggs). Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is only produced during pregnancy and is commonly called “the pregnancy hormone”. Gonadotropins are used in various fertility treatments. See also “gonadotropins” under “medication” and “FSH” and “LH” above and below. 
  • Luteinizing hormones (LH) – The level of this hormone fluctuates during specific times of the menstrual cycle. When the levels of LH surge, ovulation is triggered; the egg follicle ruptures and a mature egg is released. Once LH levels decline again, progesterone and estradiol increases. To know when you are most fertile, therefore, you need to know when you’re having a LH surge. This is what the Eveline Smart Fertility System tests.

Fertilization and Development 

  • Asthenozoospermia – This refers to low sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move using metabolic energy). 
  • Azoospermia – The absence of sperm in the seminal fluid. This may be caused by a blockage or an impairment of sperm production.  
  • Blastocyst – Referring to cells in a fluid-filled cavity that contain cells that will develop into the embryo. 
  • Blighted ovum (egg) – Referring to a fertilized egg that implanted in the uterus, but didn’t develop into a baby. 
  • Embryo – Referring to the undifferentiated beginnings of a baby, from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy. An embryo transfer (ET) refers to the process during which one or more embryo(s) are transferred to the uterus using a catheter (a thin tube).  See also “fetus” below.
  • Fetus – A baby during gestation, from eight weeks to full term, when the baby is born. Also see “embryo” above. 
  • Gametes – the name given to sperm cells and eggs. These cells contain half the number of chromosomes (the structure in a cell that carries the genes) that a normal human cell has (forty-six). Of the chromosomes in these normal cells, twenty-three comes from the egg and twenty-three comes from the sperm. Aneuploidy refers to a cell having too many chromosomes, which may cause a miscarriage or other problems. 

Medication, Tests, and Treatments 

  • Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)ART includes medical fertility treatments for men, women, and couples that include In-vitro Fertilization (IVF), Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), and assisted hatching. (See below for an explanation of these treatments.)
  • Assisted hatching – This refers to a laboratory procedure during which the outer shell (zona pellucida) of an embryo at the blastocyst, eight-cell, stage is perforated through chemical, mechanical, or laser-assisted methods. This procedure may increase the chance of embryo implantation during IVF. 
  • Bromocriptine/Parlodel (medication) – If the level of the hormone prolactin in your blood is too high, you may be given bromocriptine/Parlodel to lower it. 
  • Clomiphene Citrate (medication) – This is a fertility drug that causes the body to mature an egg-containing follicle. It’s usually only taken for five days. 
  • Cryopreservation – This procedure is used to preserve and store sperm, eggs, and/or embryos by freezing them. It forms a part of most IVF programs. 
  • Doxycycline (medication) – This antibiotic is often used for treating ureaplasma infections. Ureaplasma is a bacteria commonly found in the urinary or genital tract.
  • Gonadotropins (medication) – This fertility drug provides the body with luteinizing hormones (LH) and follicle stimulating hormones (FSH). See also “LH” and “FSH” under “hormones”. 
  • Implantation -  The egg attaches to the lining of the uterus (implants) within 6 to 12 days after the egg is fertilized. It may trigger some cramps and spotting, called “implantation bleeding”. 
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – An IVF procedure that’s done in the laboratorium during which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. This fertilized egg is then implanted into the uterus or fallopian tubes. 
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI) – Around the time a woman is ovulating, sperm are placed directly into the uterus. This is to boost her odds of conceiving. 
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF) – For this procedure eggs are removed from the ovaries and are fertilized outside the body in a laboratory. The embryos that develop is then transferred to the woman’s uterus. 
  • Lupron (medication) – This fertility drug may cause mood swings and these are often referred to online as “AWOL – a woman on Lupron”.

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.

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Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

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