RT Glossary: Getting Pregnant and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

When you’re having difficulty getting pregnant, one option you might consider is assisted reproductive technology (ART). Recently, more and more women and couples with fertility problems are turning to ART in order to achieve pregnancy.

But exploring ART options can be a confusing and often overwhelming process. Our Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Glossary page is designed to provide you with definitions of some of the most commonly used phrases that you’ll come across during your getting pregnant journey using assisted reproductive technology.

Here is a list of definitions of some commonly-used terms and abbreviations when discussing assisted reproductive technology:

  • AH: Assisted Hatching: an assisted reproductive technology method in which the zona pellucida (the "shell" of the egg) is perforated in order to help the very early embryo (the blastocyst) escape so as to hatch. This ART method can be performed using a needle, laser or using acid. AH can increases the success rate of IVF for certain women
  • ART: Assisted Reproductive Technology: this term refers to all assisted reproductive technology methods, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination. (IUI), both of which are used in cases of male or female fertility problems. More specifically, ART refers to any procedure in which the egg and sperm are manipulated so as to result in pregnancy
  • Blastocyst: this term refers to the embryo in its earliest stages
  • Cryopreservation: the frozen storage of sperm, eggs, embryos or other reproductive tissue for later use. Cryopreservation uses liquid nitrogen to freeze these materials so that they can be used for a period of a few months up to a couple of years after being frozen. This procedure is often performed when there are extra sperm or eggs produced during in vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • DI: Donor Insemination. Insemination process which uses sperm supplied by a donor. The donor is screened for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDs and chlamydia, as well as hepatitis B and C
  • FER: Frozen Embryo Replacement (sometimes referred to as FET: Frozen Embryo Transfer). This ART procedure is used to store embryos in a special freezing chamber until the woman is prepared to or able to undergo implantation. FER is similar to cryopreservation and is often used in cases of embryo donation
  • GIFT: Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer: a process in which the eggs are removed from the uterus and then joined together with washed sperm. The eggs and sperm are then implanted in the fallopian tube via a laparoscopy, which is used to make a small incision in the abdomen. GIFT has a live birth success rate of 24% per cycle
  • ICSI: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection: used in cases of male fertility problems, including low sperm count or absence of sperm, ICSI is a process in which the egg is fertilized using a single sperm which is retrieved either from a semen sample or directly from the testicles. Once sperm is collected, a needle is used to inject the sperm into the egg, which has already been retrieved from the woman. The fertilized egg is then left to culture for a period of a few days before it is transferred into the uterus. ICSI is used in combination with IVF. ICSI has a success rate of 20% per cycle
  • IUI: Inter-Uterine Insemination: a procedure in which sperm are deposited in the uterus via artificial means. It is a less invasive treatment than IVF
  • IVF: In Vitro Fertilization: process which unites egg and sperm in vitro (in the lab). Embryos are then transferred into the uterus via the cervix. IVF has a success rate of 25% to 35%
  • PGD: Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis: pre-natal diagnostic technique involving genetic tests on an embryo in order to test for genetic disease prior to implantation and pregnancy. PGS is usually performed when the embryo is at the sixth to eighth cell stage. This technique involves the removal of one cell for analysis of its DNA in order to determine whether or not the embryo is likely to develop a genetic disease and is used in combination with IVF
  • PGS: Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening: a process that uses genetic techniques in order to verify whether an embryo has the correct number of chromosomes. PGS is usually performed for older women, who are at an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, and for women who have had recurrent miscarriages, which are often due to chromosomal abnormalities
  • ZIFT: Zygote Intra-Fallopian Transfer. ZIFT is an assisted reproductive technology treatment that combines IVF and GIFT. In ZIFT, eggs are fertilized with sperm in the lab; once the eggs have been fertilized, they are transplanted in the fallopian tubes through laparoscopic surgery. The fertilized egg (zygote) then travels down the uterus in order to implant. ZIFT has a live birth success rate of 29% per cycle

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