Consider this your fun fertility glossary.
- MD: Medical Doctor…NOT Medical Deity. Remember doctors are dealing with human biology, and not playing the hand of God. Fertility treatment success rates are not 100%. We can only do our best with what we have. I don’t take credit for success, I celebrate it and if a fertility treatment isn’t successful, I certainly know that together we did everything possible to give you the highest chance of success.
- Infertility: You are “In” Fertility. When patients walk in my door they may think they are not fertile, but I see you as someone who is fertile and will become a parent. I see all of my patients as fertility patients. I don’t see them as infertile people, unable to conceive, quite the opposite.
- FSH: Forget “Follicle Stimulating Hormone”. I like to call it the, “False Security Hormone”. This can be checked between days 1–4 during the menstrual cycle. It’s a diagnostic tool that tells us about your egg quality but this is the thing: we don’t check it in isolation. We check it with the estrogen level too and if your estrogen level is high it’s masking a higher FSH level. And since these levels fluctuate from month to month, you can’t use just this hormone during one snapshot in time to guide you about your fertility. There’s so much more to it.
- AMH: to me that’s the “Always Meandering Hormone”. For some people, Anti Mullerian Hormone fluctuates during a menstrual cycle, is falsely suppressed, or not accurately represented because of improper processing and handling at the lab. Overall, it’s a hormone that always meanders so checking it and getting worried if it drops dramatically or thinking your eggs magically increased if it went up after a couple of years is not accurate. Just know it takes one egg to have a baby and the fact that your AMH is in the detectable range means that you could have a good egg left. These levels are not in your control but definitely learning about them is.
- DOR: to me means, “Don’t Over React”. Decreased Ovarian Reserve shouldn’t mean DonOR egg either . It’s actually quite normal for any woman over the age of 40 to have a low AMH and high FSH. So when women come in and they are over 40 and their ovarian reserve is low I tell them “your levels are normal” and “it just takes one egg so let’s go find it!”
- IUI: “It’s Up Inside” or Intra Uterine Insemination. Think of a turkey baster, well, not quite. We’re removing semen from sperm cells by putting them through a special washing process then taking the best swimmers and delivering them to the top of the uterus. There isn’t as much of a sperm selection process as people think there is, and success rates are 15% at best but at least we can give them a boost and get them closer to the egg than is achievable through vaginal intercourse.
- ICSI: “I’m Certain Sperm is Inside”… the egg also known as Intracytoplasic Sperm Injection. By doing this you may have more fertilized eggs from your IVF cycle.
- PGS: I wish that Pre-implantation Genetic Screening was more than just “Pretty Good Science”. An embryo’s cells get analyzed in a lab to see if they are normal, but the technology isn’t perfect. It only looks at chromosomes and there’s so much more that goes into an embryo’s ability to implant into a uterus than just the chromosomes.
- IVF: I think of it as, “Is Very Fun”. I’ve had patients tell me that they wanted me to be their IVF doctor because they wanted to see someone who would make the process of In Vitro Fertilization as fun as possible. I’m not running around with pom poms in my office but I do try to make the process as smooth as possible.
- PCOS: “Please Confirm this Ovary Syndrome”. Many patients come to me with the diagnoses of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and many without any diagnostic testing. I urge people to work with a PCOS specialist and get proper diagnosis and treatment. Because the symptoms of PCOS are similar to early menopause (infrequent periods), I’ve sadly told women for the first time that they’re in early menopause when they thought they had PCOS without any testing.
- TTC: Trying to conceive, but let’s change it to, PFP: or Preparing for Pregnancy. Just like you prepare for a trip, you should also prepare for pregnancy and be sure you know what it will take to get to your final destination. Prepare your body and mind for getting pregnant.
- IVF Failure = Learning. I don’t like to think of unsuccessful IVF treatment cycles as failures. So much can be learned from your previous cycles to better inform your next steps. I love reviewing records to see what I can learn from them so that we can see what should consider doing differently.
- IVF Cancellation = Closer. When I manage an IVF cycle, I always want to make sure that the patient is going to have the highest chance for success. The problem with IVF is that you don’t really know what you’re going to get until the end but sometimes there are signs that waiting a cycle may bring you closer to your future success. So in my office I don’t talk about cycles being cancelled, I only talk about getting closer to your golden eggs.
- Adoption isn’t Failure: There are so many wonderful ways to become a parent. Adoption is definitely one of them. Ask your fertility doctor about adoption resources in your area.
Fertility abbreviations can be confusing. They can seem daunting. I like to keep things as fun as humanly possible for my patients. I hope these glossary terms help make sense of the science, and if nothing else give you a chuckle or two.
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