Path To Fertility Blogger Lisa Rosenthal  

Lisa Rosenthal has over twenty-five years of experience in the fertility field, including her current roles as Coordinator of Professional and Patient Communications for RMACT and teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a class designed to support, comfort and enhance men and women's sense of self. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association, where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director

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8 Misunderstood Infertility Terms Defined-In Language You Can Understand


Monday text
If you are in the midst of infertility treatment, just started or even just started thinking that you may need a fertility specialist, you will be hearing terms that you may not be familiar with. Me, I wasn’t very good with foreign languages. Infertility talk proved to be just as difficult.

In case this is true for you as well, here are a few of my favorite misunderstood terms in the language of infertility. Why did I choose eight? My mother’s favorite number! As good a reason as any.

  1. Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone produced and released by the pituitary gland. In the female it is responsible for ovulation and the maintenance of the corpus luteum. In the male it stimulates testosterone production and is important in the production of sperm cells.

    Author’s note- The next two really work together. Often an embryo transfer, (shortened to “transfer”) is referred to as an implantation. Can I just say, we wish!!! We can transfer them; the implantation is up to the medications, viability of the embryo, the lining of the uterus, etc.
  2. Implantation: The attachment and embedding of the conceptus (embryo) into the lining of the uterus.
  3. Embryo Transfer: The procedure of transferring embryos back in to the endometrial cavity (womb) of a patient during an IVF cycle. It occurs on the third or fifth day after an egg retrieval.
  4. Varicocele: A varicose vein around the ductus (vas) deferens and the testes. This may be a cause of low sperm counts, motility and morphology and lead to male infertility.

    Author’s note- The clinical term below, at best, is unfortunate, at worst is devastating to hear.Twofold, as we are doing everything we can to create a family and everything we can to avoid a pregnancy loss. It is, however, a clinical term that is still used by the medical profession. In advance, I’m sorry. It’s a tough one to hear.
  5. Abortion, Spontaneous: Pregnancy loss by any cause before 20 weeks of gestation.

    Author’s note- Chemical Pregnancy, is it or isn’t it a “real” pregnancy? If this is a term that you need to understand, ask your nurse or doctor what they think. It’s a little hard to tell from the definition below, yes or no.
  6. Chemical Pregnancy: A positive pregnancy test, but with levels of pregnancy hormone (beta hCG) too low for ultrasound documentation of a pregnancy. Typically this definition includes pregnancies that have low beta hCG levels that spontaneously decline without any further development.

    Author’s note-A very brief description below for a condition that many women have to deal with. Much more detailed information when you click through.
  7. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A common endocrinologic condition that causes hormonal imbalances in women of reproductive age. It can lead to dysfunctional ovulation, infertility, weight gain, pre-diabetes and an increase in the male hormone, testosterone.

    Author’s note- Below is one of my personal favorites. Eggs are not follicles and follicles are not eggs. Not each egg can be retrieved (removed) from a follicle. Not each follicle has a mature egg. You cannot know how many eggs you will have after retrieval just by how many follicles there are.
  8. Follicle: A fluid-filled pocket in the ovary that houses the microscopic egg. Each ovary has many follicles within it. Follicles start out extremely small and then grow larger under the influence of hormones (and the medications that mimic these hormones). Follicles are lined with granulosa cells which produce estrogen and nourish the oocyte (egg). Each Follicle contains a single oocyte.

What terms or initials are you struggling with? I certainly know that it’s sometimes awkward to ask your health care providers to explain the language that they are clearly so fluent in, however they are aware that you may not understand every technical term that they use. So ask them. Or ask me.
If I don’t know, I’ll find out. Dr’s Leondires, Richlin, Hurwitz and Murdock are all able to de-mystify the language of infertility and explain things in ways that I am happy to on to you.

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