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Navigating the Message Boards

Do you know what “DH” means? I didn’t until recently. Another bad side effect of the infertility process? The infertility message boards and forums that I’ve found myself on at 2 a.m. This is not something I recommend doing. If you’re going even a little crazy during this process, the infertility forums are the last place you should go for answers.

On the one hand, you won’t feel so alone. On the other hand, you will feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t understand a word of what these women are saying to each other. I have a very hard time following a conversation made up entirely of acronyms.

Here’s an example of an actual message someone left:


Hi there,

This is my first IVF, so am pretty anxious and nervous. I'm 33, DH is 35 with MFI. Had a polyp found on my initial visit and just got AF today, which means surgery to remove it can finally be scheduled and I can start my bloodtest for FSH tomorrow. IVF clinic told me ER will most likely be around end of Jan or early Feb.

Looking forward to cycling with you ladies. Best of luck to all of us.


We know what IVF means, but do you know what DH, MFI, AF, FSH, ER and cycling (not the athletic kind) mean?

The overuse of emoticons on these forums almost leaves you feeling out of breath, and more anxious than you were before joining. Blinking emoticons nonetheless.

This is by no means a comprehensive glossary of terms, but here are some of the most commonly used acronyms. Bookmark this page so you don’t wind up spending half the night Googling them yourself to find their meaning.


3dp3dt, 5dp5dt, etc. = 3 days post 3-day transfer or 5 days post 5-day transfer. The second number refers to the amount of embryos; the first number refers to the day you had them transferred (3 days post transfer vs. 5 days post transfer)

AF = Aunt Flo. I swear I’m not making this up—it’s used all the time when someone is talking about starting her menstrual cycle.

ART = Assisted reproductive technology. This one’s pretty straight-forward; the acronym is used a lot when referring to IVF, ICSI, GIFT and ZIFT. See below for those.

AH = Assisted hatching

Baby Dust = Women on the message boards—a very supportive bunch mind you—often sign off with: Fertile thoughts and lots of baby dust!

BBT = Basal body temperature. You chart your BBT when you’re trying to track your ovulation.

BCP = Birth control pills. With some IVF protocols you do about three weeks of birth control pills first.

Beta hCG Test = A blood test used to detect very early pregnancies, and evaluate embryonic development.

BFN = Big fat negative. I want to meet the person who came up with this one in particular, and ask her to change it to BFF (big fat fail). It has a better ring to it.

BFP = Big fat positive. For realz.

Blasts = Blastocysts, or “5-day embryos.” An embryo that makes it to five days after an egg retrieval, during an IVF cycle. Embryologists consider these of better quality than 3-day embryos.

DH = “Dear hubby” or “dear husband.” As in: My DH has been so supportive throughout this grueling process, I don’t know what I’d do without him.

DPO = Days post ovulation

DPT = Days post transfer

DPR = Days post retrieval

Endo = Edometriosis

Embryologist = A scientist who specializes in embryo development. God, in other words.

ER = Egg retrieval

ET = Embryo transfer

FET = Frozen embryo transfer

Follies = Follicles

FSH = Follicle stimulating hormone

FT = Fertile thoughts!

GIFT = Gamete Intrafallopian transfer, which is less common than IVF.

GnRH = Gonadotropin releasing hormone, enables the pituitary gland to release LH and FSH

HPT = Home pregnancy test

ICSI = Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (injecting a single sperm into an egg)

IF = Infertility

LH = Luteinizing hormone

LH Surge = Luteinizing hormone surge

MFI = Male factor infertility

OHSS = Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome

OV = Ovulated

PCOS = Polycystic ovarian syndrome

PI = Primary infertility

RE = Reproductive endocrinologist

SA = Semen analysis

SI = Secondary infertility

Stims = Stimulating drugs like Follistim, etc.

Stimming = The act of using stimulating drugs

Sticky Vibes = See “baby dust.”

TTC = Trying to conceive

US = Ultrasound

ZIFT = Zygote intrafallopian transfer

What did I miss? Feel free to add your favorite acronyms or odd terms in the comments below.