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Infertility and Medical Monday - Fertility Treatment Words Blog Feature
Lisa Rosenthal

By: Lisa Rosenthal on March 25th, 2013

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Infertility and Medical Monday - Fertility Treatment Words

Fertility Help | Fertility Basics | Fertility Treatment

Infertility and Fertility Treatment Terms Defined for Medical Monday

Infertility and Fertility Treatment Terms Defined for Medical Monday

Medical Monday. OK. How about a brush up on some of the terms that are used regularly when managing infertility and fertility treatment?


For instance, a special pet peeve of mine, especially when it comes to the media, is the term "implantation", when what is really meant is transfer. There is no such thing, in terms of a medical procedure, called an "implantation." Embryos can be transferred back to the uterus, which is carefully prepared to accomodate it or them, but it is impossible to "implant" the embryos. Maybe at some point in the future but not now. Now, the embryos are transferred back and then there's a wait to see about implantation. 


Medical Definitions Related to Fertility

Here's the correct medical definitions for implantation and transfer:

Transfer:  The procedure of transferring embryos back in to the endometrial cavity (womb) of a patient during an IVF cycle. It occurs on the third or fifth day after an egg retrieval. In a frozen embryo transfer (FET), the embryos are thawed and then transferred back at the appropriate time. 

Implantation: The attachment and embedding of the conceptus (embryo) into the lining of the uterus.

Here's the correct explanation of where the embryo is to implant to create a healthy fetus and baby:

Endometrial Cavity: The space in side the uterus that is created by the inner lining of the uterus that responds to female hormones during the menstrual and treatment cycles. This lining, when properly prepared, forms the area of attachment and implantation of the embryo. Commonly referred to as the womb.

What is an embryo? When is it called an embryo? When does it stop being an embryo and become something else? 


Embryo: The term used to describe the early stages of fetal growth. Strictly defined from the second to the ninth week of pregnancy but often used to designate any time after conception.

A woman develops one egg each month if she is ovulating normally. With medication stimulation, and under supervision, more than one egg is developed. Each egg is housed in a follicle. Here's the definition of a follicle:

Follicle: A fluid-filled pocket in the ovary that houses the microscopic egg. Each ovary has many follicles within it. Follicles start out extremely small and then grow larger under the influence of hormones (and the medications that mimic these hormones). Follicles are lined with granulosa cells which produce estrogen and nourish the oocyte (egg). Each follicle contains a single oocyte.

And here's the definition of an egg:

Oocyte: The female germ cell often called an egg.


Understanding Fertility Terms With the Help of a Medical Glossary and/or Reproductive Endocrinologist


It's simply less confusing when you understand the language of fertility and infertility treatment. Visit our medical glossary if there are more terms that you are unsure of. Or ask me here. Any one of our board certified reproductive endocrinologists will be happy to answer your fertility language questions.


Kind of funny when you think about it. I never did well with learning spanish or french. A little italian, only because I lived in Italy for several months. But the language of fertility, I caught on to that right away.


Maybe because it was a matter of survival. Or immersion. Either way, I learned it fast. Probably just the way that you are doing right now.


Let us know if you need some help. That's what we're here for. 






About Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.