Getting Pregnant For Dummies
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Getting pregnant can be a complex and lengthy process for those diagnosed with infertility. Getting through the fertility treatment may seem difficult. Following are a few of our cheat lists to not only help you decipher fertility testing but also help you understand fertility treatment a little better.

pregnant woman holding ultrasound image © Natalia Deriabina

Dos and don’ts to protect your fertility

Even before you try to get pregnant, you may want to take a look at things that could impact your fertility. So, what can you do even before you try to conceive? So much of this is making healthy lifestyle choices, which can have a positive impact on your fertility…in those areas that you can control! Consider these fertility tips, which will bode well for you when trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and staying healthy as a parent!

  • Do maintain proper weight through a balanced diet.
  • Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
  • Do see your gynecologist regularly.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Do use protection during casual sex (to prevent STIs).
  • Don’t ignore changes such as pain or unusual bleeding.
  • Do check your environment to remove toxins.
  • Don’t wait for the perfect time to have a baby — age matters!

Most critical questions in any fertility evaluation

Your physician will likely pose some critical questions as part of an evaluation of your fertility. He or she is trying to get a handle on your fertility potential and your specific infertility diagnosis. Here are our “top picks for issues to consider and the reason why your fertility doctor will be asking you the question.

  • How old are you? Age is the most accurate predictor for a woman’s ability to achieve a pregnancy.
  • How long have you been trying to get pregnant? Couples who have normal fertility conceive quickly. The longer a couple have been trying to conceive without achieving a pregnancy, the more likely there is a problem.
  • Are your menstrual cycles regular or irregular? Cycle regularity or irregularity helps to define a list of possible causes for the infertility and thus guides the diagnostic process
  • Have you ever had pelvic surgery or an infection? Women with pelvic surgery or infection are more likely to have an anatomic problem for their infertility, such as blocked tubes or pelvic scarring.
  • Has the male partner ever fathered a child? Men who fathered a child in the past generally have enough sperm to create another pregnancy — barring intervening illness or trauma.

3 most important fertility tests

Fertility tests are necessary to help determine what the underlying diagnosis may be and guide your doctor to the best fertility treatment for you — whether it is pills, procedures, or IVF. Here is a snapshot of what you or your partner definitely (and minimally) need in the way of testing.

  • Semen analysis: This is a simple test of the man’s semen to determine if there is a problem with the man’s ability to conceive a child, including a sperm count, the sperm motility, and an analysis of sperm shape (morphology).
  • AMH: Done on the female, AMH is a protein made by egg units, which tells us about the number of eggs remaining in a woman’s ovaries. In general, more is better, and the AMH can help determine if a woman has a normal number of eggs.
  • Sonohysterogram: Otherwise known as a saline-infused scan (or SIS), the sonohysterogram involves filling the uterus with water and using ultrasound to determine if the cavity of the uterus is normal and if the fallopian tubes are open.

Common abbreviations used in the fertility clinic

Because we know how easy it is to get confused by the fertility treatment abbreviations, we created the following list to help you navigate the system.

  • AI: artificial insemination
  • AMA: advanced maternal age
  • AMH: antimullerian hormone
  • ART: assisted reproductive technology
  • ASRM: American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  • AZH: assisted zona hatching
  • BCP: birth control pills (also noted as OCP [oral contraceptive pills])
  • Beta: Short for bHCG, it’s a blood test to measure the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin
  • BMI: body mass index
  • CC: Clomiphene citrate or Clomid
  • COH: controlled ovarian hyperstimulation
  • Cryo: cryopreservation
  • DNR: donor
  • DOR: donor oocyte recipient
  • E2: estradiol
  • ET: embryo transfer
  • Endo: endometrium or endometriosis
  • Endo Bx: endometrial biopsy
  • FET: frozen embryo transfer
  • FDA: Food and Drug Administration
  • FSH: follicle stimulating hormone
  • GH: gestational host (also called GS [gestational surrogate] or GC [gestational carrier])
  • HCG: human chorionic gonadotropin
  • HSG: hysterosonogram
  • Hx: history
  • IC: intercourse
  • ICSI: intracytoplasmic sperm injection
  • IP: intended parent
  • IUI: intrauterine insemination
  • IVF: in vitro fertilization
  • LH: leutinizing hormone
  • LMP: last menstrual period
  • OB/Gyn: obstetrician/gynecologist
  • OPK: ovulation predictor kit
  • OTC: over the counter
  • P4: progesterone
  • PCOS: polycystic ovary syndrome (also called PCOD [polycystic ovary disease])
  • PID: pelvic inflammatory disease
  • PGT: preimplantation genetic testing
  • POC: products of conception
  • POI: premature ovarian insufficiency (formerly POF [premature ovarian failure])
  • PCP: primary care physician
  • RE: reproductive endocrinologist
  • REI: reproductive endocrinology and infertility
  • RET: [egg] retrieval
  • RX: prescription
  • SA: semen analysis
  • SART: Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
  • SIS: saline infused sonohysterogram
  • STI: sexually transmitted infection (formerly STD [sexually transmitted disease])
  • TVUS: transvaginal ultrasound
  • Tx: treatment
  • UTI: urinary tract infection

Key medications in fertility treatment

There are myriad fertility medications that may be used to help create and maintain a pregnancy. While treatment protocols vary.  The purpose of these meds is generally constant. Here is a brief overview of what these meds are actually doing for you.

  • OCP: oral contraceptive pills used for menstrual cycle control.
  • Long-acting GnRH agonist (Lupron): Stops the release of FSH/LH from the pituitary and is used to suppress menstrual cycles and set ovarian stimulation.
  • GnRH antagonist (ganirelix, cetrorelix): Stops the release of FSH/ LH from the pituitary and is used to control ovarian stimulation.
  • Clomiphene citrate (Clomid): Used to regulate a cycle or increase the number of eggs developed.
  • Letrozole: Used to regulate a cycle or increase the number of eggs developed.
  • Human menopausal gonadotropins (hMG): Contains both FSH/ LH and is used to regulate a cycle or increase the number of eggs developed, (Menopur, for example.)
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH): Used to regulate a cycle or increase the number of eggs developed. (Follistim or Gonal-F, for example.)
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): Used to trigger the release of an egg (ovulation) or to complete the maturation of eggs in an IVF cycle. (Pregnyl or Novarel, for example.)
  • Cabergoline (Dostinex): Used to treat increased prolactin levels or to reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel): Used to treat increased prolactin levels.
  • Progesterone: Used to stimulate growth of the uterine lining and sustain an embryo during implantation.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Lisa A. Rinehart has been involved in reproductive medicine in the Chicago area for 25 years, currently as a health care attorney and medical practice consultant. She is the executive director of the Kevin J. Lederer LIFE foundation, an active member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and a frequent speaker on all aspects of reproductive law. Dr. John S. Rinehart has maintained an exclusive practice in infertility and reproductive endocrinology in the Chicago area for 35 years. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and his fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. He serves as a senior attending physician with North Shore University HealthSystem and as a senior clinic educator for the Pritzker School of Medicine for The University of Chicago.

Dr. John Rinehart has maintained his practice in infertility and reproductive endocrinology for 35 years. He is a Senior Educator at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Lisa Rinehart is a healthcare attorney and medical practice consultant and a frequent speaker on reproductive law. Jackie Thompson is the author of Fertility For Dummies and Infertility For Dummies. She is also a former fertility patient. Jackie Meyers-Thompson is managing partner of Coppock-Meyers Public Relations/J.D. Thompson Communications. She is the author of Fertility For Dummies and Infertility For Dummies.

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