Fertility Language can be very confusing and exclusive if you’re new to the game.
I’ve listed some of the more common abbreviations here that you may come across during your journey to conceive, and hopefully this article will help you to understand them a bit better. Save it for later, and do share with anyone else who may be struggling!
TTC – Trying To Conceive
This is one you’re likely to know already, as probably it’s where you are right now. People who are trying to get pregnant or preparing to do so!
CD – Cycle Day
Very simple – if your period/bleed starts on Monday 1st Jan, that is your Cycle Day 1. The last day of your cycle is the day before a bleed. Recording cycle length is helpful, as not everyone has regular cycles, and even knowing the length of a cycle can help identify an issue. In co-ordination with charting temperatures, cycle days can be used to record bleeding days, days of fertile fluid observed, days when you have had sex, when/if you ovulate, and the length of the luteal phase after ovulation. It all comes back to data!
AF – Aunt Flo (Period/Bleed)
This somewhat jokey term is often uses as a quick way of referring to the onset of the monthly menstrual cycle. It’s when you start to bleed – shedding last months uterine lining. Bleeds should not be painful, should have a defined start and end, and you should not see spotting after the bleed has ended. Any of these may indicate an issue with hormonal balance, or structural issues with the uterus like endometriosis, adenomiosis, fibroids, polyps and more.
CM (CF) – Cervical Mucus/Cervical Fluid
Cervical Mucus or Fluid (CM/CF) can be a valuable tool in observing your menstrual cycle and its stages. When you wipe, it’s easy to check and see the colour, texture and amount. From the bleed to the end of your cycle, the cervical fluid changes from non-fertile, to fertile (around ovulation) and then changes again post-ovulation to protect a potential pregnancy before reverting to a bleed if not pregnant. Seeing fertile CF is one of the key signs of ovulation, and a great way to start noting how your body works. Download my handy guide to the types of CF here.
FSH – Follicle Stimulating Hormone
Ovarian follicle development is governed by a pituitary hormone called FSH: follicle-stimulating hormone, which stimulates the follicles to grow. You have less FSH when younger, and more as you mature – leading to shorter or irregular periods. FSH levels also contribute to how heavy or light your bleed is – the hormone stimulates estradiol which influences the thickening of the uterine lining.
LH – Luteinising Hormone
As you come up to the time of ovulation (which is the midpoint of your menstrual cycle), your hormones are preparing to release an egg from a mature follicle. Luteinising Hormone (LH) levels reach a peak at ovulation, triggering the follicle to ripen and release into the fallopian tubes, ready to be fertilised. Defects in the hormone balance can affect whether you ovulate or not.
DPO – Days Past Ovulation
This abbreviation is used to indicate how far past ovulation in your cycle you are. It’s used often for charting and fertility apps. Usually, if an egg has been released (ovulation) and potentially fertilised and implanted in the uterus, it will be producing enough hcG hormone to indicate a pregnancy if you tested at 14 days past ovulation. It’s useful to know to identify how long the luteal phase lasts – the time between ovulation and the next bleed. Often also called the Two Week Wait (TWW), see below.
TWW – Two Week Wait
For many people, this is the worst part of the whole cycle. The two week wait refers to the 14 days post ovulation, when you *could* be pregnant. It also refers to the wait after an IVF embryo transfer. There’s not a lot to do at this stage – if you’ve got everything right during the cycle, there’s about a 25% chance of a pregnancy. A lot of nail biting and symptom spotting takes places during this period of time. I recommend taking up an absorbing hobby!
BBT – Basal Body Temperature
We use a BBT to chart temperatures throughout a menstrual cycle, as they can help to identify the different phases of the cycle. Using a digital thermometer (accurate to 2 decimal places) and either a paper chart or an online app (I recommend Fertility Friend), you take your temperature under the tongue every day, record it on the chart, and then you can see an overall pattern of each cycle. It’s very helpful to record this information, as it can help to identify ovulation, pregnancy, or if there are potential fertility problems such as not ovulating, spotting, long or short cycles and more. I recommend charting to ALL of my clients, for at least 3 months because the chart data is so useful.
MFI – Male Factor Infertility
Male factor infertility is often not well understood, and can be ignored until female partners have had all sorts of intervention. Issues like poor quality sperm, deformations in the structure, lack of ability to move properly and quantity of viable sperm all have an impact on the potential for a pregnancy and viable embryo. If you have a male partner, ALWAYS get at least a basic semen analysis carried out if you are having difficulties conceiving. I’ve written more about semen analysis in this article.
This is not an exhaustive list, and you are likely to see many, many more fertility related abbreviations, particularly if you are having IVF support. Please do feel free to ask me anything if you want them explained. You can book a discovery call with me if you want to chat about your journey to conceive. Remember to sign up to my newsletter if you want to read my articles first.