In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a medical procedure that can help couples who struggle with infertility or in a biological situation where the "natural" way to conceive isn't possible (same sex couples) to conceive a child. However, for those new to the world of assisted reproduction, the acronyms associated with IVF can be overwhelming and confusing. To help you understand the terminology, I've put together a guide to cover the most commonly used IVF acronyms and what they mean.
1) IVF: In Vitro Fertilisation
This is the primary assisted reproductive technology used to help couples conceive a child. During IVF, eggs are harvested from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory setting. The resulting embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus, hopefully leading to a successful pregnancy.
2) ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
ICSI is a type of IVF that is used when male infertility is a factor. During ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg, rather than allowing the sperm to fertilise the egg naturally.
3) PGS/PGT-A: Preimplantation genetic screening/testing for aneuploidy
PGS is a type of genetic testing that can be performed on embryos before they are implanted into the uterus. PGS can identify embryos with chromosomal abnormalities, which can increase the risk of miscarriage or birth defects. PGT-A is the newer and more accurate term for PGS.
4) PGD/PGT-M: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis/testing for monogenic disorders
PGD is a type of genetic testing that can be used to identify embryos with genetic mutations that could lead to inherited diseases. PGT-M is the newer and more accurate term for PGD.
5) FET: Frozen embryo transfer
In some cases, more embryos are created during IVF than can be implanted during a single cycle. Laws under the HEFA in the UK only allow for a single embryo transfer, unless under very strict set of circumstances is more then one allowed to be transferred back. FET is a technique that involves freezing the extra embryos for later use. The frozen embryos can be thawed and implanted during a subsequent cycle. FET cycles in lots of recent research suggest that there is a higher success for couples to go on and have a successful pregnancy.
6) ART: Assisted reproductive technology
ART is a broad term that encompasses all forms of fertility treatments that involve manipulating eggs, sperm, or embryos in a laboratory setting. IVF is the most commonly used form of ART, but there are other techniques such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT).
7) HCG: Human chorionic gonadotropin
HCG is a hormone that is produced by the placenta during pregnancy. During IVF, HCG injections are often used to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs, and to trigger ovulation.
8) OHSS: Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
OHSS is a rare but potentially serious complication of IVF. It occurs when the ovaries become swollen and painful due to the use of fertility drugs to stimulate egg production. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, and shortness of breath. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if symptoms of OHSS are present.
9) TTC: Trying to conceive
TTC is a term that refers to the period of time when a couple is actively trying to conceive a child. This can include natural methods, such as tracking ovulation and having timed intercourse, or assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF. During the TTC phase, couples may undergo fertility testing to identify any underlying issues that may be preventing them from conceiving.
10) TWW: Two-week wait
The TWW is the period of time between ovulation and when a pregnancy test can be taken. This is typically around two weeks, hence the name. During this time, many couples experience heightened anxiety and anticipation as they wait to see if they have successfully conceived. For couples who have undergone IVF, this waiting period can be particularly stressful as they may have invested significant time, money and not to mention the emotional investment also. The is a reason in the community it is referred to as the "Dreaded Two Week Wait!"
In conclusion, the world of IVF can be overwhelming, but understanding the acronyms used can make the process a little easier. By familiarising yourself with the terms used by your healthcare provider, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the journey to conception. My advice is to always remain close and in regular contact with your clinic, they should be more then happy to support or clear up anything that is not clear during the process and should take the time to explain what feels like a very clinical and medical process so you feel more comfortable about what's to come and what some of the terminology that's being used means, and when it will apply.