Weird TTC Terms — Decoded

Definitions of all those confusing fertility terms you’re wondering about.

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Definitions of all those confusing fertility terms you’re wondering about.


This is when a woman misses her period for three or four months in a row.


Aneuploidy is when there are an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell. This could cause miscarriage or health problems in the baby.

Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)

This protein gets your eggs ready to be released. If you get fertility testing, your doc may check your blood’s AMH levels to make sure your ovaries are still popping out eggs.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Fertility treatments and procedures that involve surgically removing eggs and combining them with sperm (outside the body) to help you get pregnant are referred to as ART.


This is a male fertility problem. It’s when his semen doesn’t contain any sperm.


Once an egg is fertilized, it’s known as a blastocyst. It begins a development phase that ends when it implants into the uterine wall.

Cervical Mucus

Sorry, but this may sound gross. Cervical mucus is secreted from the cervix. It’s produced by the hormone estrogen in the first part of your monthly menstrual cycle. That’s why many TTCers check their discharge for signs of cervical mucus — it clues them in on when they might ovulate.

Clomiphene Citrate

You might know this as Clomid. It’s a fertility drug that’s used to trigger the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which can jump-start the ovulation process.

Egg Donation

In this fertility treatment, a woman who’s infertile uses donated eggs, taken from a fertile woman, to do an ART procedure.


Once an egg has been fertilized and starts dividing, it becomes an embryo.

Embryo Donation

Sometimes, embryos (unused from other reproductive procedures) are donated to other women so they can try ART to get pregnant.


In this health condition, tissue that’s normally inside the uterus grows in other places, such as on the fallopian tubes and ovaries. This can cause bleeding, scarring, pelvic pain and infertility.


This is the hormone in a woman’s body that makes her eggs mature and causes her endometrium to start thickening to prep for pregnancy.

Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

This hormone is part of reproduction for both men and women. In men, it stimulates sperm production and keeps it going. In women, it matures egg follicles — that's why having high levels of FSH could mean she has few eggs left and may have trouble conceiving. Fertility experts believe that FSH levels over 10 to 15 mIU/mL can be a sign of weakened fertility.

Gestational Carrier

You’ve probably heard of this, commonly called a surrogate. This is a woman who gets pregnant with someone else’s baby. A couple dealing with fertility problems might have their embryo implanted in a gestational carrier’s uterus. She carries the child through to delivery, even though she has no genetic relationship with it (as opposed to traditional surrogacy, in which the carrier is genetically related to the child).

Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)

If your doctor suspects your fallopian tubes could be blocked, you might get this X-ray test in which dye is injected into the cervix to show where any blockage might be. The procedure normally takes 15 to 20 minutes, and you may feel cramping that’s similar to what you experience during your period. Generally, you should be able to get results at the time of the procedure.


So what’s the difference between having trouble  trying to get pregnant and being infertile? Well, if the woman is under age 34, she and her partner are considered infertile if they’ve been having 12 months of sex without contraceptives and haven’t conceived. If she’s over 35, they’re considered infertile after six months of trying.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

In this procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

This is when sperm are placed in a woman’s uterus to help her get pregnant.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

This ART procedure involves removing eggs from a woman's ovaries and fertilizing them outside her body. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the woman's uterus through the cervix.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

A hormone produced by the pituitary gland, in women it’s responsible for the monthly release of an egg. In men, LH is responsible for starting the production of testosterone.

Obstetrician-Gynecologist (ob-gyn)

These are trained physicians who diagnose and treat female reproductive health issues, and care for women during pregnancy, childbirth and during post-birth recovery.


Ovulation is the term used to define the release of an egg (usually one, though sometimes more) from a woman’s ovary.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is technically a hormonal imbalance, earmarked by any two of the following three characteristics: overproduction of androgens (male hormones), irregular menstrual cycles and an ultrasound demonstrating polycystic-appearing ovaries. Some women with this disorder experience a degree of insulin resistance as well.

Premature Ovarian Failure

This is the loss of normal function of the ovaries, which causes a woman to have irregular periods or no periods at all.


This hormone helps to improve the condition of the endometrium, making it more receptive to implantation.

Reproductive Endocrinologist

These doctors specialize in reproductive endocrine disorders and infertility.

Retrograde Ejaculation

This refers to the entry of semen into the bladder instead of going through the urethra during ejaculation.


This is the sperm and the seminal fluid that’s secreted during ejaculation.

Semen Analysis

The microscopic examination of semen, this helps determine the number of sperm (sperm count), their shapes (morphology) and their ability to move (motility).

Sperm Donation

This is when a donation of sperm is made to help a woman get pregnant.


In traditional surrogacy, a woman is inseminated with the sperm of a man who is not her partner in order to conceive and carry a child to be reared by the biologic (genetic) father and his partner. In this procedure, the surrogate is genetically related to the child. The biologic father and his partner must usually adopt the child after its birth. In gestational surrogacy, the baby and the surrogate aren’t related (see Gestational Carrier, above).

Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE)

This minor surgical procedure involves the removal of a small sample of testicular tissue in order to retrieve sperm for use in an IVF cycle.


A male sex hormone, it’s produced in the testicles and aids in the production of sperm.

Tubal Factor Infertility

Tubal factor infertility is defined as either a complete or partial blockage and/or scarring of the fallopian tubes. Tubal factor infertility causes a disruption of egg pickup and transport, fertilization and also embryo transport from the fallopian tube down into the uterus where the embryo implants.


This is a physician who specializes in the treatment of disorders and diseases related to male and female urinary organs and male reproductive organs.


This cause of male infertility occurs when varicose veins are present in the blood vessels above the testes.

_Source: _ The American Fertility Association

Plus, more from The Bump:

Ways to Make a Baby From Low-Tech to High

Common Fertility Tests

Worst Things to Say to Someone Who's TTC

By The Bump Editors