Confused by terms used by your fertility specialist? Learn about them here

An IVF treatment can be a complex journey. Here, we simplify it a bit by telling you about some commonly used terms by a fertility expert.
men's reproductive health
Seek support for fertility problems if you have thyroid. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Preeti Mahawar Published: 21 May 2022, 12:30 pm IST
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Are you ready for your new journey with in vitro fertilization (IVF), but confused and intimidated by the infertility terms used by your doctor? Not to worry! Terms used by specialists during IVF treatment may cause you trouble understanding everything, but by the end of this piece, you will be able to understand certain common terminologies that you would hear at a fertility clinic.

Here are some common terms used during IVF treatment or when you seek infertility advice:

1. IVF

IVF, also known as In-Vitro Fertilization, is the process of fusing a female egg and male sperm outside of the womb, i.e., in the laboratory, and then placing that formed embryo or baby seedling inside the uterus, which results in pregnancy. It starts with making the female eggs mature and ready for fertilization by keeping you on some medications. This IVF treatment procedure is very helpful for all those couples who are having problems in conceiving a baby due to certain fertility problems.

infertility terms
Are you ready for an IVF treatment? Image courtesy: Shutterstock


The other term which is frequently used after IVF is ICSI. It stands for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection and is an additional part of the IVF cycle, where each egg is infused with a single sperm to aid fertilization using a very delicate micromanipulation device. In most cases, it helps in overcoming severe male infertility. This treatment is for all those couples who are dealing with male fertility issues like less mobility of sperms, fewer sperms, anti-sperm antibodies, or men who have previously gone through vasectomy and now can’t reverse it. ICSI along with IVF treatment is the most common technique in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), and has a very high success graph.

3. IUI

IUI is another type of ART and it means Intrauterine Insemination. In this process, male sperm is placed inside of the female’s uterus at the time when they are ovulating to increase the chances of fertilization. The difference between IVF and IUI is that in IUI, instead of fertilizing the eggs in the lab itself, the healthy sperm is injected inside the uterus only.

4. Ovarian reserve

When your doctor mentions “ovarian reserve”, they are talking about the possible quantity of eggs in the female’s ovaries. The testing of the ovarian reserve is a basic step in your fertility treatment as it determines the chances of the success of fertility treatment.

5. AMH levels

AMH stands for Anti-Müllerian hormone. It is a protein hormone that is produced by cells inside the ovarian follicles. It is a test that can help doctors estimate the number of follicles inside the ovaries, thereby determining the woman’s egg count.

6. FSH level

FSH stands for Follicle Stimulating Hormones. It is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland and plays a very important role in sexual development, controlling the menstrual cycle and stimulating the growth of female ovarian eggs. A high FSH level on a blood test may indicate a low ovarian reserve, POF (Premature Ovarian Failure), or menopause.

infertility terms
Infertility is a disorder of both male and female reproductive systems. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

7. Male factor infertility

A major myth associated with infertility is that it is a woman’s issue. But men can also face fertility problems. The inability of a man to impregnate his female partner is known as male infertility. When a man has abnormal semen patterns or sperm function, it is called “male factor infertility.”

8. Morphology

The next term in this list is morphology. The form of male sperm, or the way it seems beneath a microscope, is known as morphology. It examines the shape of the sperm head as well as the size of the sperm. The shape of the sperm’s head is significant because it influences its capacity to dissolve the egg’s outer surface and fertilize it.

9. Motility

Motility is the ability of sperm to move. The inability of sperm to travel swiftly and effectively toward their desired destination, the egg, is known as low sperm motility. The majority of sperm from males with poor sperm motility is too sluggish and random to make it to the egg; in fact, they are unlikely to make it through the vaginal canal. However, low motility sperm can also be used to fertilize the eggs with the help of an ICSI procedure.

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10. Oligospermia

Oligospermia is the condition when a man has very few sperm in the semen to fertilize an egg normally. This can also result in an inability to conceive but can be resolved with the help of IVF treatment.

infertility terms
Don’t lose hope. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

11. Azoospermia

The absence of sperm in a man’s ejaculation is known as azoospermia. It is one of the main causes of male infertility.

IVF treatments are an emotional journey

IVF, as a process needs emotional, physical, and mental preparation, and being aware of and prepared for it can help reduce your anxieties. Fertility treatments have brought joy to many couples who were craving a child, and they continue to help out many couples to fulfil their dream of parenthood. If you have any doubts regarding the terms and the process, it would be helpful to reach out to your specialist.

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About the Author

Dr Preeti Mahawar, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility East, Uttam Kumar Sarani, Kolkata. ...Read More

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