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Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a writer, public speaker, infertility advocate, author of the blog “The 2 Week Wait,” and a proud in vitro fertilization (IVF) mom of 2 boys. This article is based on her own fertility journey.
If you're just starting out on your fertility journey, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all of the new information being thrown at you. I know I sure did!
One thing I noticed when starting my infertility journey is that there are a ton of acronyms and abbreviations: TTC, IVF, IUI, TWW… OMG? I would hear these constantly during my doctor’s visits, on social media, in online news sources, you name it. With all these different acronyms, things may get confusing quickly, and it can be tough to keep everything straight.
I’ve pulled together this handy guide to 10 common fertility acronyms in hopes that it will be helpful to you in speaking with your care team or chatting with friends, family, or others in the fertility community. But first you may be wondering…
Why are there so many fertility acronyms anyway?
It almost seems counterproductive – there are so many fertility acronyms that it can feel like you’re learning a whole new language! But, believe it or not, there’s a reason these shorthand expressions exist.
As someone on my care team explained to me, when it comes to fertility and infertility, there are a lot of diagnoses and treatments that involve complex medical terminology and procedures that can be difficult to pronounce – or even remember. Acronyms can help to streamline and simplify some of these complex and elaborate terms and may make it easier for patients and medical professionals to communicate with each other.
In my personal experience, I’ve found that fertility can be an emotional and personal topic, and some people may opt to use acronyms when they are speaking about their journey to be more discreet or private. For example, I found that using the acronym “TTC” (trying to conceive), instead of saying "we're trying to have a baby" made it more comfortable when speaking with my friends and family in public spaces.
I’ve found that the fertility community can be pretty tight-knit and many of us connect and communicate in-person via support groups or online in places like forums, chat groups, or social media. In most of these community conversations, I’ve found that acronyms are used regularly. Knowing what the acronyms stand for can make it easier to understand and join in on these conversations.
10 Fertility Acronyms I Found Helpful to Know
Learning all the fertility acronyms may take some time! I was surprised how quickly I caught on to some that are commonly used and how these may even boost your fertility vocab.
*The below terminology is based on my own personal experience and found in online resources.
1. TTC – Trying to Conceive
Essentially, when someone is TTC, they're actively trying to get pregnant. This can involve various actions and include everything from tracking ovulation, having regular sex, or using fertility treatments.
2. ART – Assisted Reproductive Technology
ART is a broad term that refers to any fertility treatment or procedure that involves the manipulation of an egg and sperm outside of the body prior to embryo transfer to increase the chances of pregnancy. Examples of ART include in vitro fertilization (IVF) and frozen embryo transfer (FET), stay tuned for more on these.
3. IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
IVF is a common treatment in which eggs are removed from a woman's ovaries and fertilized with sperm outside the body in a lab. The resulting embryos are then transferred back into the woman's uterus in an attempt to achieve a successful pregnancy. I, myself, am a proud IVF mother of two boys, but it took me multiple times to be successful.
4. FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer
FET is a type of procedure during which the embryos not used during a previous IVF cycle are frozen and stored for future use. FET can be an option for women who want to have more than one child and the procedure does not require going through a full IVF cycle again.
5. IUI - Intrauterine Insemination
I found that typing out “intrauterine insemination” over and over in a text message gets tiring. IUI was much easier. IUI is a fertility treatment where sperm is inserted directly into a woman's uterus, and is a less invasive procedure than IVF. This is usually done around ovulation to increase the chances of fertilization and, subsequently, pregnancy.
6. PGT-A – Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy
What a mouthful! PGT-A stands for “preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies” of IVF-created embryos before the embryos are transferred into a woman's uterus. PGT-A can help identify embryos with abnormal chromosomes that can lead to certain genetic disorders or miscarriage. By identifying these abnormalities early on, the healthiest embryos may be identified and transferred – and the chances of a live, healthy birth may increase.
Bonus term: In addition to PGT-A, there is also PGT-M, or “preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic/single gene disorders.” The main difference between PGT-A and PGT-M is that PGT-M can help identify embryos with a specific genetic mutation or disorder, such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia.
7. TWW – Two-Week Wait
TWW refers to the (dreaded) time period between ovulation, or an embryo transfer, and when a woman can take a pregnancy test to see if they and their partner are pregnant. The TWW was an emotional and nerve-wracking time for me during my fertility journey. That said, I found that leaning on my support system during the TTW was helpful – whether talking to a partner, friend, family member, or therapist. And, while I was tempted to POAS (“pee on a stick” as part of an at-home pregnancy test... another bonus acronym!), I learned it was better to try to wait, because the results of a test taken too early may not be accurate.
8. PUPO – Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise
PUPO is a phrase we often use in the fertility community to describe the time between an embryo transfer and the results of a pregnancy test (during the TWW). During this time, the person is considered PUPO because there's a chance they could be pregnant, even if it hasn't been confirmed. The term PUPO was helpful to me while I was navigating the emotional ups and downs of the TWW.
9. DPO – Days Post-Ovulation
In the fertility community, DPO refers to the number of days that have passed since ovulation and can serve two purposes. First, if a woman is 14 days DPO and is experiencing pregnancy symptoms, it may be time to take a pregnancy test (POAS!). Second, the number of DPO may also be used to track the progress of pregnancy following certain milestones, like the implantation of a fertilized egg. Tracking DPO was useful while I was on my fertility journey, but it's important to remember that everyone's journey is unique, and there's no "right" way to do things.
Building on the DPO concept, some couples actually add the number of days they are post-ovulation and post-embryo transfer. So, for example, someone might say they're "5DP4DT," which means 5 days post-day-4 embryo transfer. This is when fertility acronyms start getting pretty advanced!
10. BFN/BFP – Big Fat Negative/Big Fat Positive
Once the angst-inducing TWW is over, women will take a pregnancy test. The results of this test may be described as BFN, which stands for "big fat negative," or BFP, which stands for "big fat positive." Of course, those trying to conceive are hoping for a BFP, but it’s important that everyone on their journey also prepares for a potential BFN. Those BFNs, while so disappointing, aren’t uncommon.
WHFY (We're Here For You)
Understanding and learning to use common acronyms was helpful to me throughout my infertility journey and made it a little easier to communicate with my care team and others going through what I was at the time.
So, whether you're actively TTC, undergoing IVF or IUI, or anxiously awaiting the TWW to end, I’m hoping this acronym guide will do the same for you. We’re all in this together.
Visit FertilityJourney.com for infertility resources and information.