There’s no doubt there’s an education in store for couples who enter the world of infertility as diagnosis and treatment seem to come with their own special language. It begins with learning the basic terminology for tests and procedures you’ll discuss with your doctor. Once you’ve mastered the acronyms for the basics – like IVF – there seems to be a constant stream of new terms to learn with treatment. And, in the vibrant online forums/message boards where infertility is discussed – mostly among women – the acronyms that abound serve as short hand for common medical terms and a variety of expressions that help define the infertility journey.
In general, acronyms and abbreviations dominate in an age of texts and Twitter but dealing with infertility is challenging enough without having to google every third “word” in an online forum, blog, or column. Online message boards are a great resource for support, motivation, information and more, but sometimes you’re just looking for a fast answer to a question. That may not be possible as complex medical terminology and the time it takes to spell everything out has resulted in a dizzying array of acronyms that make you feel like you’ve arrived in a foreign country and need the translation app on your phone to understand anything.
So, here’s your guide to commonly used abbreviations that often appear in TTC forums – That’s Trying to Conceive, btw. And, fair warning, for the non-medical terms you might find that abbreviations and/or definitions vary among the forums.
Here’s our glossary of common acronyms arranged alphabetically, defined where needed:
AF: Aunt Flo: your period
ART: Assisted reproductive technology such as IVF
BBT: Basal body temperature: temperature upon first waking, ovulation can be tracked using a special thermometer as temperature rises around the time of ovulation
BD: Baby dance: sex for conception
BFN: Big fat negative: negative pregnancy test result
BFP: Big fat positive: positive pregnancy test result
CB: Cycle buddy: someone you get to know well through online forums
CD/CD1: Cycle day, which is the number of days into the cycle counting the first day of bleeding as CD1: Ovulation usually occurs around CD12-18
DE: Donor eggs
DF: Dear fiancé
DH: Dear husband
DP: Dear partner
DPT: Days post-transfer: days after an embryo is transferred into the uterus in an IVF cycle
DPO: Days post-ovulation, e.g. 5DPO, usually used when someone is waiting to take a pregnancy test
DW: Dear wife
EDD: Estimated due date
ER: Egg retrieval
ET: Embryo transfer
EW or EWCM: “Egg White” or “Egg White” Cervical Mucus: description of cervical mucus when there is a large amount just before or at the time of ovulation
FET: Frozen embryo transfer
FX: Fingers Crossed for a BFP or that the pregnancy “sticks”
FF: Fertility friend: same as a cycle buddy
HCG: Human chorionic gonadotropin: the hormone pregnancy tests look for
IUI: Intra-uterine insemination: placement of “washed” sperm directly into the uterus, rather than the vagina, through a small tube passed through the cervix
IVF: In-vitro fertilization: procedure where an egg is fertilized with sperm outside the womb, then implanted in a woman’s uterus
LH: Luteinizing hormone: the hormone the ovulation test kits look for to see if you’re ovulating
LMP: Last menstrual period: first day
LSP: Low sperm count
MA, m/a, misc: Miscarriage
OPT or OPK: Ovulation predictor test or kit using urine or saliva to detect an upcoming ovulation 12 to 50 hours before it happens
P4; Prog: Progesterone: hormone that supports the lining of the uterus to develop each month so that an embryo can implant and start a pregnancy. Also required for pregnancy to continue.
PAF; PANFERT: Pregnancy after infertility
PCOS: Polycystic ovary syndrome: a condition where female sex hormones are out of balance, which can prevent regular ovulation, making it more difficult to get pregnant
PCP: Primary care physician
PCT: Post-coital test: infertility test that looks at how sperm and cervical mucus interact
POAS: Pee on a Stick: take home pregnancy test
POF: Premature ovarian failure: also known as early menopause
RE: Reproductive endocrinologist: specialist who treats infertility and reproductive disorders in women and men
RPL: Recurrent pregnancy loss
SA: Semen analysis: most common diagnostic test for male infertility factors
TI: Timed intercourse
TWW or 2WW: Two week wait: the period between ovulation and when you can test for pregnancy
There are many, many more acronyms commonly used in online forums related to infertility. You can check out other lists of acronyms – some with definitions – at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Romper, What To Expect, The International Glossary on Infertility and Fertility Care.
Finally, we know this is a lot take in – TMI! You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, so feel free to be creative and make up some of your own acronyms – LOL! You’ll get through it and the shared experience, advice, empathy and support you’ll find in TTC forums is well worth it! As you’ll find women often say – we’re throwing some “baby dust” your way. It’s just a cute way of wishing someone good luck on their fertility journey.