According to a recent report by the World Health Organization, 17.5% of the adult population – roughly 1 in 6 people – experience infertility yet when you are in it, it can feel like you’re the only one. That’s why, at Cofertility, we take every chance we get to increase awareness of infertility in an effort to provide proactive fertility education and de-stigmatize all paths to parenthood.
We’re taught from an early age that getting pregnant is easy but in reality, this isn’t the case for everyone – one in four American couples struggle to conceive, and infertility can feel incredibly isolating due to lack of openness and understanding from the general public, and the additional stigmatization of infertility just kicks those suffering from it while they’re down.
I know this, because my cofounders and I have been through it. We all experienced reproductive challenges when building our families and wished we knew more about our own bodies when we embarked on our fertility journeys. Had we gotten the proper education about our reproductive health and options, or had we frozen our eggs at an earlier age, we might not have faced those roadblocks. We’re here to change that.
It’s our goal to make family-building more accessible and human-centered, that’s why we’ve compiled this resource of words, abbreviations, and phrases you’ll likely hear throughout your family-building journey to help demystify the process and for more, you can visit our website with a full glossary of vocabulary.
- Ovulation – When an ovary releases one or more eggs. In a “normal” 28-day menstrual cycle, this happens around the halfway mark, 14 days before the start of your next period. This is your fertile window so it’s time to BD (baby dancing – having sex, getting it on…you get the idea.)
- Infertility – The inability to conceive naturally after one full year (if you’re under 35) or six months (if you’re between 35-40). If you’re over 40 and trying to conceive, we recommend heading straight to a specialist to see what’s what, versus trying first.
- In Vitro Fertilization – The process of external fertilization—literally translating to, “fertilization in glass.” This process starts as a woman takes fertility drugs for several days that stimulate her ovaries to produce mature eggs. Then, right before ovulation, her eggs are retrieved via a minor surgery using suction to remove the eggs. Afterwards, the eggs are fertilized in a lab using partner or donor sperm, and then the fertilized embryos are transferred back into her body or a surrogate’s (potentially after some genetic testing).
- AF – Aunt Flow, otherwise known as your period, or otherwise known as, “ughhhh, HER again.” When she comes to town, it’s time to stock up on heating pads, sweatpants, and your favorite Netflix shows.
- AMH – Anti-Mullerian Hormone. One of the first hormones your reproductive endocrinologist will investigate is this hormone, which is measured early in a woman’s cycle to determine her ovarian reserve. A higher AMH level correlates to a higher ovarian reserve, or in other words, more eggs.
- BBT – Otherwise known as basal body temperature, this is your lowest resting temperature and must be measured as soon as you wake up. Tracking subtle changes in BBT is one of the ways some have had success with monitoring their ovulation and tracking their cycles.
- BFP – Big Fat Positive, or what you’re waiting, hoping, and praying to see on a pregnancy test if you’re trying to conceive.
- EPT – “Early pregnancy test,” or a pregnancy test with enhanced sensitivity to hCG in urine that may give you conclusive results a few days sooner than other pregnancy tests.
- FET – “Frozen embryo transfer,” or transferring a previously-frozen embryo into a woman’s uterus.
- PG – An abbreviation for “pregnant.” If you’re trying to conceive and PG, congrats! If not yet, we’re right here with you.
- TTC – “Trying to conceive.” AKA, trying to get pregnant. When you spend all your free time thinking about getting pregnant, any time-saving acronym is probably helpful.
- TWW – The “two week wait” between ovulation (or embryo transfer) and a woman’s period. During this time, embryo implantation may occur if the woman is pregnant. Either way, it’s a time during which we recommend lots of distraction so you don’t go crazy in this waiting game.
- Inclusive Pregnancy Rates – Pregnancy success reports that include both clinical and chemical pregnancies. Make sure when you visit a fertility clinic that you ask about their clinical pregnancy rate or live birth rate for the most accurate and clear stats.
- Intended Parents – Person or persons who become the legal parent of a child born through third-party reproduction.
- Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise – After an IVF transfer of an embryo into a woman’s uterus, she’s technically PUPO until a blood test confirms she is not pregnant.
- Social Parent – A parent who is not biologically related to their child but is the parent nonetheless.
- Staggered IVF – A form of IVF that involves breaking up the IVF cycle into 2 separate stages—stimulation/egg retrieval and embryo transfer—which can be weeks, months, or even years apart. This allows time for the lab to conduct genetic testing (PGS) on one or more cells that were surgically removed from the embryo 3-7 days after IVF fertilization.
- Unexplained Infertility – Probably the most frustrating diagnosis of them all, unexplained infertility is when the cause of one’s infertility can’t be diagnosed by conventional procedures. Unfortunately, this is the case for approximately 10% of all infertile couples.
And while we’re at it, we’re also proposing a vocabulary overhaul when it comes to outdated and straight-up offensive fertility terminology. Here are several fertility terms we commonly hear that we think need to be replaced. Consider this our rally cry for evolved terminology around the TTC process. Let’s challenge each other to evolve the surrounding verbiage. Because the family-building process should feel as good as possible, in spite of challenges along the way.
- “Insurance policy” → optionality: when a woman decides to freeze her eggs, she’s giving herself optionality should she experience fertility challenges down the line.
- Poor sperm quality → sperm-related challenges: when a man experiences low sperm count or motility, or irregular morphology that may result in an unsuccessful fertilization or pregnancy. The same can apply to “poor egg quality,” and we support a similar change to reference egg-related challenges.
- Inhospitable uterus → uterine challenges: when uterine conditions, like endometriosis, cause difficulty getting or staying pregnant.
- Donor mother/parent → egg donor: the woman who donated her eggs to fertilize an embryo resulting in a child is an egg donor. The intended parents are that child’s parents, full stop.
- Buying eggs → matching with an egg donor: No one involved in this process should feel like eggs are being bought or sold (that goes for the egg donor, the intended parents, and the donor-conceived person). Rather, working with an egg donor is a beautiful way of growing a family and should feel the opposite of transactional.
- “Using” an egg donor → working with/matching with an egg donor: An egg donor should feel like a perfect fit with your family and someone who should be respected, not “used”.
- Spontaneous abortion → pregnancy loss: Honestly, this term is beyond cruel given what it describes — losing a pregnancy prior to 20 weeks.
- Implantation failure → unsuccessful transfer: When an IVF embryo transfer doesn’t result in a success, that doesn’t mean it — or your body — was a failure.
- Chemical pregnancy → early pregnancy loss: Calling a pregnancy “chemical” discredits what it actually is — a pregnancy. And losing it should be categorized as such.
Cofertility is reshaping fertility preservation and third-party reproduction so it’s more accessible, human and community-driven. The company offers a destigmatized, scalable approach to egg donation, which reshapes the cost structure of egg-freezing by matching women who want to freeze their eggs with families who could not otherwise conceive and by donating half, women can freeze their eggs for free. Cofertility is in the “family” business, determined to improve the family-building journey — today or in the future — and is in an endless pursuit to make these experiences more positive.