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Glossary Of IVF Terminology | Fertility Terms & Abbreviations

If you are considering IVF treatment you may be feeling confused by the fertility abbreviations and IVF terminology. We’ve collaborated with Dr Gorgy, leading London fertility expert and Co-director of The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy, to create our own glossary of fertility and IVF jargon to make your fertility research Dr Amin Gorgy that little bit easier.

“Assisted conception involves very intricate processes,” Dr Gorgy told us. “It’s important to demystify the language so that patients understand what’s happening every step of the way.” With Dr Gorgy’s help we’ve put together a glossary of assisted conception terms you might come across if you are undergoing IVF or fertility treatment.

We can help you find an expert Specialist Fertility Consultant and the UK's top Fertility / IVF Clinics in London & the UK, and International Fertility / IVF Clinics.
  • Assisted Hatching – A tiny hole is made in the embryo shell to enable the hatching process.
  • Asthenozoospermia – Sperm with limited (below range) motility.
  • Antisperm Antibodies – Sticky proteins attached to sperm, creating immobility.
  • Azoospermia – Total absence of sperm in the seminal fluid.
  • Blastocyst – A young, preimplantation stage embryo. During the implantation process, the blastocyst is the liquid-filled orb that implants in the uterus wall.
  • Blastocyst Transfer – When an embryo around 5 days old (a blastocyst) is transferred into the womb by a fertility doctor.
  • Clomiphene Citrate – A fertility medicine that works to stimulate ovulation.
  • Cryopreservation – Freezing eggs, sperm, or embryos (when unused high quality embryos are stored for future use).
  • Egg Collection – During an IVF/ICSI cycle, this is a procedure to retrieve the eggs produced after hormone stimulation; performed either under sedation or general anaesthetic.
  • Embryo Transfer – After IVF/ICSI, a procedure in which the doctor places fertilised eggs back into the womb.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – A hormone generated by the pituitary gland, FSH spurs growth of the ovaries’ egg-containing follicles (in women), and the generation of sperm (in men).
  • Follicles – In the ovaries, these fluid-containing sacs are where eggs grow and develop.
  • Follicular Loss – The progressive depletion of egg reserves with reproductive ageing.
  • Follicular Tracking – When fertility doctors scan a woman in her natural ovulation cycle.
  • Frozen Embryo Replacement (transfer) – When the stored frozen embryos are thawed (defrosted) and placed in the womb.
  • Gametes – Female eggs and male sperm.
  • Gonadotropins – Hormones (FSH and LH) generated by the pituitary gland that regulate reproductive function.
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) – A crucial pregnancy hormone that a woman produces in the early stages of pregnancy, HCG aids the continued production of progesterone. In assisted reproduction, a woman is given HCG 36 hours before egg collection to mature the eggs.
  • Hydrosalpinx – Fluid collection in a blocked fallopian tube.
  • Hystero Contrast Sonography, Aqua Scan or Saline Installation Sonography (SIS) – An ultrasound with injection of fluid into the womb to check a woman’s fallopian tubes and integrity of the womb cavity.
  • Glossary Of IVF Terminology

  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) – Checking the uterus and fallopian tubes using X-ray.
  • Hysteroscopy – A check of the inside of the uterus using a hysteroscope (a thin telescope with a camera and light on the end).
  • Implantation – When an embryo attaches itself to the womb lining.
  • In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) – When a woman’s eggs are removed and fertilised in a laboratory, before being placed back into the uterus to develop.
  • ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) – Similar to IVF, but with ICSI, sperm is injected directly into the egg in the laboratory. It is often recommended when there are issues with the man’s sperm, or when there was failure of or poor fertilisation in a previous IVF cycle.
  • IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically-Selected Sperm Injection) – As per ICSI, this is a sperm selection technique by choosing the more normal looking sperm under very high microscopic magnification.
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – Sperm is washed and prepared before being transferred directly into the womb at the time of ovulation through the use of a catheter, to aid fertilisation.
  • Laparoscopy – A surgeon makes a little incision under the belly button before passing a camera instrument inside to investigate the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH) – A hormone generated by the pituitary gland. Men need LH for the release of testosterone and the production of sperm. Women need LH to produce oestrogen.
  • Oligozoospermia – Sperm deficiency in the semen (low sperm count, below average, in the semen).
  • Oligo-asthenoteratozoospermia (OATS) – Low numbers, low motility and abnormal shape of sperm in the semen.
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) – When the ovaries are overstimulated in response to fertility drugs.
  • Ovulation Induction – Initiating ovulation through the use of fertility drugs.
  • Percutaneous Epidymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA) – When sperm are extracted directly from the epididymis with a needle.
  • PICSI (Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) – Like ICSI, except that prior to injection into the egg, the sperm is tested with Hyaluronone to identify the best sperm with mature DNA for fertilisation.
  • Pre-impalntation Genetic Diagnosis – When an embryo cell(s) are analysed in a lab to look for a specific genetic disease or chromosome defect.
  • Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening – When an embryo cell(s) are analysed for presence of chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Premature Ovarian Failure – When the ovaries stop generating follicles before age 40.
  • Teratazoospermia – Elevated numbers of abnormal sperm in the semen.
  • Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA) – Sperm is extracted directly from the testicles with the use of a needle.
  • Testicular Sperm Extraction (TeSE) – Sperm is extracted following a biopsy of testicular tissue.

We wish you all the best on your fertility journey.

To speak to Dr Gorgy at The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy, about your fertility, simply call the team on 020 7224 1880.

We would like to thank the team at The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy for providing their specialist knowledge for this article.

The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy

The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy
57A Wimpole Street
London W1G 8YP
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7224 1880


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