6 December 2019

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Fertility Terminology and Abbreviations

Dr Manny Mangat

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Dr Manny Mangat

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At a glance

  • ‘Fertility talk’ can be littered with abbreviations, with OI, IUI, IVF and ICSI among the most commonly used, which can be confusing.
  • Asking questions – and deepening your understanding of the process – can contribute to a more informed and positive experience.

Frankly Fertility - ABC of IVF

Exploring your fertility options can feel overwhelming at the best of times, but being hit with a dictionary full of medical jargon can puzzle even the most clinically clued up.

“It can be quite confusing,” admits Clinical Director of IVF Australia’s CBD clinic Dr Manny Mangat. “As fertility experts we’re so passionate about what we do that sometimes we throw out acronyms and expect people to understand what we live and breathe.” Which is why asking for clarification throughout the process is key.

Fluent in fertility

From ‘basal body temperature’ to ‘luteal phase’ and ‘anovulation’ there are a lot of medical terms that get thrown around when you’re going through fertility treatment. Here are a few that are commonly used by fertility specialists when discussing treatment options with patients:

OI or ovulation inductionmedication offered – via tablet or injection – to induce follicle development and regular ovulation.

You might hear this if you are: struggling with irregular periods, occasional periods or no periods, which can make tracking ovulation a struggle

IUI or intrauterine inseminationrecommended for short-term unexplained infertility or sexual difficulties. The procedure involves the manual insertion of pre-prepared sperm through the cervix and into the uterus just before ovulation.

You might hear this if you are: experiencing unexplained infertility, sexual difficulties or a couple/single using donor sperm, before moving onto more complex treatments like IVF.

IVFor in vitro fertilisationassisted reproductive treatment used for female or unexplained fertility, whereby a woman’s ovaries are stimulated with a course of injectable fertility drugs, collected and fertilised with sperm from a male partner or donor.

You might hear this if you have: sperm abnormalities, endometriosis, tubal damage, unsuccessful OI results or unexplained infertility. Single women and same-sex couples using donor sperm are common candidates too.

Although IVF may be the fertility treatment that’s most talked about, bear in mind that you may not need IVF, and may be offered other procedures, medications or processes depending on your personal circumstances.

“IVF is only used for certain groups of people - it doesn’t help everyone,” stresses Dr Mangat. A fertility specialist will discuss whether the treatment is right for you.

ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injectionused to treat male infertility. The procedure involves injecting a single sperm directly into an egg, fertilising it and implanting it into a woman’s uterus.

You might hear this if you have: poor sperm quality, where conventional IVF is unlikely to result in fertilisation.

Found in translation

Becoming fluent in fertility takes time and involves asking lots of questions, but it has the potential to significantly affect your journey. Dr Mangat encourages patients to query any terms they’re unclear of as soon as they come up, to create a more empowering and informed experience. 

“If we can break down and simplify the process and patients gain the confidence to understand what they’re going through, it often gives them a much more positive experience,” she explains. “My biggest advice is to ask questions; we’re not scary people generally!”

If you need support, there is plenty available. See your GP or fertility expert for advice.


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