Alphabet Soup of Infertility Treatment

Dec 08, 2009 | Fertility Care

You just had your first visit with your infertility doc to talk about a plan.

She rattles off the following:

“you can either do OI or COH and it’s up to you if you want to do an IUI. But I would do an HSG in this cycle before your ART treatment. During the treatment, we will do scans to make sure your ovaries are responding the way we want them to and after we trigger you with HCG we will do your IUI. Then check a UPT 14 days after your IUI. And no need to do BBT or OPK during treatment but some women do. We can also move right to IVF with ICSI. But given your story – don’t recommend PGS for you.”
Got that?
Well if you didn’t, I’m going to break it down for you.

When you do infertility treatments you can do anything from take pills to shots just below your skin. In the “old days” the shots were given in the muscle and very painful. Not so anymore. Sub-q is how we refer to the location where the shots are given now – just below the skin.

Let’s define some terms that you may hear in the infertility clinic:

1. OI = ovulation induction. Usually done with pills such as Clomid or Clomiphene citrate. You may see: “CC” on your paperwork. It all means the same thing. Some docs use Femara which is in a family of medications called aromatase inhibitors. You may see “AI” on your paperwork.

2. COH= controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. This usually refers to taking injectable medications such as the hormones FSH in combination with LH or alone.

3. FSH= follicle stimulating hormone. The injectable medications (there are 3 different brands) contain this hormone. Helps stimulate the ovaries.

4. LH= luteinizing hormone. There are also 3 different types of medication on the market that contain this hormone. Also used to help stimulate the ovaries.

5. ART = assisted reproductive technology. This is a term used to describe anything involving IVF (in vitro fertilization).

6. HCG= human chorionic gonadotropin. This is the hormone that you check in your urine when checking a blood pregnancy test. You may also take this morning to “trigger” ovulation or the release of eggs during your treatment. You may ask – why would I take a pregnancy hormone when I am not pregnant? The reason is that hcg hormone is a very long lasting hormone and has the same biochemical structure as the hormone that women release before they ovulate. Also know that since this hormone is long lasting this means that if you check a urine pregnancy test within 7 days of taking this shot it may very well come out positive and it isn’t because you are pregnant (yet).

7. IUI = intrauterine insemination. Some people refer to this as artificial insemination. This is a procedure in which sperm is separated from the semen. The sperm is then loaded into a syringe and a long thin catheter is then placed on the end and then put into the top of the uterus. This is a procedure similar to a PAP smear in terms of how it’s performed (speculum, stir-ups, etc). After the sample is injected into the uterus, we usually ask women to lie down for around 10 minutes. This time frame may vary from clinic to clinic.

8. UPT= urine pregnancy test.

9. BBT=basal body temperatures. is one of the many websites out there that can help you track your body temperatures – it puts together a pretty nifty chart for you but can be hard interpret depending on yoru particular fertility problem.

10. OPK= ovulation predictor kit, this is also known as the LH surge. I tell patients to buy a simple litmus paper based kit. Something like you can find through or in your pharmacy. But don’t spend a ton of money on this. No need to buy the fancy digital kits. The simpler the better – just my opinion.

11. IVF= in vitro fertilization (eggs are fertilized by sperm outside of the body)

12. ICSI= Intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In this procedure, eggs are fertilized by sperm using a very specialized technique in which the sperm cell is injected directly into the egg cell.

13. PGS= pre-implantation genetic screening. In this procedure, a cell is removed from the embryo (after you go through IVF) in order to analyze the chromosomes.

14. HSG = hysterosalpingogram. Test of tubal patency.

If you know these acronyms going into your discussion about treatment with your fertility doctor, you will be way ahead of the game. You can also visit the following website:

I find this site super useful for many reasons. It not only has great information but it also has cool videos that show you how medications are administered. I don’t have any relationship to any of the companies or websites that I list – this is just info I find helpful and should not replace any advice given by your doctor.

Thank you for reading!