From AF to BFP: A Newbie’s Guide to Navigating TTC

If, like me, you’re new to the world of trying to conceive (ttc) and you’ve decided to join a Facebook group so you can get to grips with everything you need to know. There are all these acronyms and new words flying around, and now you’re even more confused. We’re here to help you distinguish between your BBTs and BFNs and decipher the lingo from AMH to ZIFT. 


Aunt Flow (AF)

Your Period. Ugh, this means your period has arrived, annoying AF (as F***). The last thing we want when trying to conceive. 


Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH)

What a great place to start. This hormone plays a role in regulating follicular growth and development and is key for reproductive function. Both sexes produce it but it’s only used as a marker for female fertility and can indicate your ovarian reserve.


Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

These are any fertility-related treatments in which eggs or embryos are manipulated. This  includes IVF, IUIs and ZIFTs (more on these later). 


Baby Dust

Wishing someone luck on their ttc journey. 


Baby Dance (BD’ing)

Putting it simply, it’s having unprotected sex with the goal of getting pregnant, i.e. when you’re at your most fertile. 


Basal Body Temperature (BBT)

This is your resting body temperature, or your lowest temperature when sleeping. Your BBT increases just after ovulation by up to 0.56C; measuring it is a form of naturally tracking your cycle. 


Big Fat Negative (BFN)

This is not just our favourite podcast; it refers to a negative pregnancy test. It does what it says on the tin. 


Big Fat Positive (BFP)

You got it. A positive pregnancy test. 


Blastocyst 

A ball of cells formed in early pregnancy, around 5 days post fertilisation. This is the stage before the embryo and foetus. If you’re going through IVF (another acronym we’ll come to later), then this stage is especially important. 


Cervical Mucus or Cervical Fluid (CM or CF)

Vaginal discharge that plays a part in reproduction. It becomes wetter and more slippery around ovulation (to aid the sperm’s passage) and can be a useful marker if you’re tracking your cycle for fertility.


Chemical Pregnancy (CP)

A very early miscarriage, within the first 5 weeks of pregnancy (before week 12 to be exact). The term ‘chemical pregnancy’ is thought to have arisen from the fact that a pregnancy at this early stage can only be detected by the hormone hCG in your blood or urine. The embryo would still be too small to be viewed on ultrasound. This early stage of pregnancy would not be visible on an ultrasound scan.


Cycle Day (CD)

The CD doesn’t just refer to that round disc we used to listen to. In fertility, we use it to refer to the day of your menstrual cycle (or fertility treatment cycle). 


Days Past Ovulation (DPO)

DPO is used to track early pregnancy symptoms. I.e. at 0-7 DPO symptoms CAN begin to appear such as breast tenderness, at 7-10 days past ovulation implantation bleeding can occur and at 11-14 days past ovulation fatigue and food cravings can begin. It’s important to note that this process can differ for everyone, and just because you don’t have symptoms, doesn’t mean implantation hasn’t occurred. 


Ectopic Pregnancy 

When a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the uterus, typically in the fallopian tubes.


Embryo transfer 

The final step in IVF (we’ll get to this later) is the embryo transfer, which involves taking a fertilised egg (grown in the lab for up to 6 days) and implanting it in the uterus. The best one (or sometimes two) embryos are chosen, and the number of embryos transferred depends on your age.


Endometriosis (ENDO)

A condition where endometrial-like tissue (aka what lines your womb) grows outside the uterus. The main symptom is pelvic pain, but it can manifest itself in many ways. Endometriosis can affect fertility, and currently, there is no established cure for it.


Estrogen

In colloquial terms, this is often called the ‘sex hormone’. It plays an important role in puberty and is also critical in ovulation, and responsible for building up the lining of your uterus. 


Egg White Cervical Mucus (EWCM)

The Cervical Fluid released immediately pre ovulation. EWCM is clear and stretchy (almost like an egg white if you can believe it). 


Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

Surprise, surprise, this is a fertility-related hormone. Your pituitary gland makes it and regulates your menstrual cycle, stimulating ovary follicles and preparing eggs for ovulation in women. In men, it controls the amount of sperm that is made.


Follicular Phase (FP)

The longest phase of your menstrual cycle. It begins on the first day of your period and ends when ovulation begins. During this period the follicles grow to prepare for ovulation and your hormones are constantly fluctuating. The average length of this phase is 16 days, but this can vary from person to person. Focus on adding fermented foods to your diet (bloating can be an annoying companion to this phase) and foods that help oestrogen production such as pumpkin seeds or pomegranates. 


First Morning Urine (FMU)

The urine you pass first thing in the morning (only way to describe it really). This urine is generally more concentrated and will have higher levels of hormones like hCG. This is why most pregnancy test instructions will tell you to use FMU where possible. 


Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

Made in the brain, this controls the release of FSH and LH (scroll down for more on this hormone) and has been found to increase the chance of pregnancy in women undergoing IVF. 


Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

This is what we call the ‘pregnancy hormone’ and is a chemical that is usually found in embryos. Pregnancy tests measure levels of hCG, and it can be found in your blood around 10 to 11 days after conception. It can also be clinically used to kickstart ovulation (playing a similar role to LH). 


Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

This is a form of IVF where a single sperm is injected into the centre of an egg and is performed where there are issues with sperm quality. This leads us nicely onto…


In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

A technique to help conception. It begins with hormone therapy to stimulate egg development. During this process, the egg is removed from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a lab environment. The egg is transferred back into the uterus, ready for implantation. The process can take between 4 to 6 weeks.


Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

A fertility treatment that involves inseminating sperm directly into the uterus. The best quality (aka the fastest) sperm are selected to boost the chances of conception. Typically, but not always, this will be tried before going through IVF. 


Laparoscopy

A procedure carried out under anaesthetic, where a small telescope is inserted into the abdomen to assess the internal tissue and any fertility-related impact.


Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

LH is the Batman to FSH’s Robin. It stimulates ovulation and ovarian progesterone production in women and triggers the release of the egg from the ovary. Pretty crucial, right?


Miscarriage (MC)

Sudden pregnancy loss within the first 23 weeks. Symptoms can include vaginal bleeding, cramping and lower abdomen pain. It is worth noting that not all bleeding during pregnancy means you are having a miscarriage, and bleeding during your first 3 months is fairly common. 


Male Factor Infertility (MF)

The cause of approximately 40% of infertility cases, MF is an alteration in sperm concentration/mobility and impacts around 7% of men.  


Myomas (fibroids)

These are growths made of muscle and fibrous tissue. They occur in circa 30% of reproductive-age women but are only thought to be the sole cause of infertility in 1% to 2.4% of people. 


Ovulation 

Back to basics (after all, we need to nail them). This is when the egg, or ovum (👀), is released from an ovary and occurs around day 14 of a 28-day menstrual cycle.


Ovulation Predictor Kit (OPK)

There’s an overwhelming amount of information online around predicting ovulation, but one of the most common things you’ll find when you search are Ovulation Predictor Kits. These kits track the increase in LH to then figure out when you’re ovulating. As we’ve established, each menstrual cycle is unique to the individual so if you’re having trouble tracking ovulation then these can help. They aren’t perfect and false positives may occasionally occur. 


Pee On A Stick (POAS)

If you’ve ever used a midstream pregnancy test, then you know exactly how to do this (or how not to do it).

Polycystic Ovaries, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Disease (PCO, PCOS, or PCOD)

So (un)nice, they acronymed it thrice. Affecting nearly 20% of women, PCOS is a hormonal androgen imbalance characterised by irregular periods, excessive facial and body hair growth,custs in the ovaries and acne. The exact cause is unknown and symptoms can vary. The irregular periods, typically alongside lack of ovulation, mean it can be harder to become pregnant. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility. 


Progesterone 

Produced mainly in the ovaries, this hormone supports menstruation and maintaining pregnancy.


Two Week Wait (TWW)

The time between ovulation and when you can take a pregnancy test, otherwise known as one of the most difficult times for anyone trying to conceive or undergoing ART. If we’ve learnt anything from this blog, it’s that your cycle is individual so for some people it may be slightly under and for some people it may be slightly over!


Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

A form of IVF where fertilised eggs are placed in the fallopian tubes and not the uterus. 


There you have it - our TTC glossary. We hope this glossary helps you demystify some of the terms you hear flying around.

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