Use this helpful glossary to browse the meanings of key terms.



Interventions offered in addition to recognised standard assisted reproductive treatment (ART) or artificial insemination (AI) which are claimed to improve fertility and/or reproductive outcomes. Also known as adjuvants. 

altruistic surrogacy

A non-commercial surrogacy arrangement. The surrogate is not paid a fee or reward beyond being reimbursed realistic out of pocket expenses for the pregnancy and giving birth, e.g. medical costs, travel, etc. An altruistic surrogacy arrangement may be either gestational or traditional. 

artificial insemination (AI)

A procedure where sperm is injected into the vagina, cervical canal or uterus of a woman.

assisted reproductive treatment (ART)

Also known as assisted reproductive technology. It refers to technologies and associated methods used to help people achieve a pregnancy and have a baby. 


clinical pregnancy

A pregnancy is verified by ultrasound at approximately six to seven weeks into the pregnancy. A clinical pregnancy does not guarantee the birth of a baby, as some pregnancies miscarry. 

commercial surrogacy

A surrogacy arrangement in which a surrogate is paid or gains a material benefit for carrying the child.  

commissioning parent(s)

contact preference

For a subject of an application to the Central Register, a contact preference specifies how (e.g. email, phone, letter, using intermediary VARTA services) the applicant wishes to be contacted. This includes a no contact option.  A lodged contact preference lasts for five years. 

Applicants (donor-conceived people conceived prior to 1998, parent(s) and donors) will receive a copy of the contact preference and must sign an undertaking that they will not knowingly contravene a subject’s contact preference.  

An active contact preference may be amended or withdrawn at any time unless there has already been contact between the parties. 



A person who donates egg(s), sperm or embryo(s). This person may be known or anonymous to the recipient. 

donor conception

A conception that takes place through the use of donated gametes (egg, sperm) or embryo(s).  People born through the use of donor treatment are referred to as donor-conceived or donor offspring. 

donor insemination

Artificial insemination with donor sperm. 



Ovum, oocyte, female gamete. 

egg retrieval

Procedure undertaken in an attempt to collect egg(s) from a woman.


A live embryo that has a human genome or an altered human genome and that has been developing for less than eight weeks since the appearance of two pronuclei or the initiation of its development by other means. 

embryo transfer

The procedure of placing embryo(s) into the body of a woman. 



Penetration of an egg by sperm.


Ability to conceive or reproduce. 

fertility preservation

Fertility preservation is used to increase the chance of somebody having children in future. It can be used for medical reasons and personal circumstances. It is sometimes used before medical procedures and treatments that may cause infertility, such as cancer treatment and gender transitioning. 

fertility treatment

Treatments ranging from simple interventions such as medication to help a woman ovulate, through to more complicated procedures known as assisted reproductive treatment (ART). ART, also known as assisted reproductive technology, refers to medical and scientific methods used to help people conceive.  

Fertility treatments are used to treat infertility, for people who can’t become pregnant, carry a pregnancy or give birth, to reduce the chance of a baby inheriting a genetic disease or abnormality, or to preserve fertility.

follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

A hormone (gonadotrophin) produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. In men, it stimulates the testicles to produce sperm. In women, FSH helps to control the menstrual cycle and production of eggs by the ovaries. 

fresh embryo

An embryo that has not been cryopreserved (frozen). 

fSH stimulated cycle

A treatment cycle in which the woman’s ovaries are stimulated with superovulatory drugs, excluding clomiphene citrate, to produce more than one egg. 



An egg or sperm. 

gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)

A GIFT cycle involves eggs being removed from a woman's ovaries to be placed in one of the fallopian tubes along with the man's sperm. 

gestational surrogacy

A surrogacy arrangement in which the surrogate’s egg is not used in conception, so the surrogate (gestational carrier) has no genetic link to the baby and is not the biological mother. The embryo transferred into the surrogate may be created using the intended parents’ sperm and egg, or donor embryos may be used.  


A group of hormones produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. This includes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) which control the production of sperm and eggs. 


human chorionic gonadotrophins (HCG)

A hormone (gonadotrophin) produced by the cells surrounding an embryo. HCG is the hormone that gives a positive pregnancy test reading. 


identifying information

Includes information such as name, date of birth, donor code and contact information.

in vitro fertilisation (IVF)

A type of fertility treatment. During IVF, a woman has hormone injections to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. When the eggs are mature they are retrieved in an ultrasound-guided procedure under light anaesthetic. The eggs and sperm from the male partner (or a donor) are placed in a culture dish in the laboratory to allow the eggs to hopefully fertilise, so embryos can develop. Three to five days later, if embryos have formed, one is placed into the woman's uterus in a procedure called embryo transfer. If there is more than one embryo, they can be frozen and used later if the first transfer is not successful. 


The inability to conceive after 12 months or more of unprotected sex, also known as primary infertility. Infertility can be due to a range of medical reasons or due to personal circumstances (e.g. financial or practical reasons). 

Secondary infertility - in people who have previously had a child who are unable to conceive again after 12 months or more of unprotected sex.  

Unexplained infertility - inability to conceive after 12 months or more of unprotected sex and there is no medical reason as to why. 

intended parent(s)

Also known as commissioning parent(s). The individual or couple using donor treatment and surrogacy arrangements. Intended parent(s) will become the child’s legal parents following a substitute parentage order. 

intracytoplasmic morphologically-selected sperm injection (IMSI)

A method used in IVF to select a sperm so it can be injected into an egg.  

intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

ICSI is a micromanipulation technique where a single sperm is injected into the inner cellular structure of an egg.  

intrauterine insemination (IUI)

A procedure in which a fine catheter (tube) is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to deposit the male partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm directly into the uterus at or just before the time of ovulation.  


live birth

A birth event in which a live born baby is delivered. Live births are counted as birth events, e.g. a twin or triplet live birth is counted as one birth event. 

luteinising hormone (LH)

A hormone (gonadotrophin) produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. In women it helps control the menstrual cycle, ovulation and the production of oestrogen and progesterone. In men, it stimulates the production of testosterone. 


non-identifying information

Information that does not reveal someone’s identity. This includes physical traits, such as eye colour, interests and hobbies, occupation and education, as well as the gender, month and year of birth of people born from the same donor. 

non-invasive preimplantation genetic testing (NIPGT)

A non-invasive technique used to identify embryos with the correct amount of genetic material. 


ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)

A complication of assisted reproduction which left untreated, may cause serious health implications. OHSS occurs when there is excessive stimulation of the ovaries whilst taking fertility medication. Women may complain of abdominal discomfort and mild swelling, feeling bloated, nausea and weight gain. 


The release of an egg from the ovary. In an average menstrual cycle of 28 days, ovulation happens around day 14. However, cycle lengths vary between women, and it is important to note that ovulation occurs earlier in women with shorter cycles and later in women with longer cycles.  

ovulation induction

It involves taking a hormone medication (tablets or injections) to stimulate ovulation. It can be used if a woman is not ovulating or not ovulating regularly. 



A woman who gives birth to a baby in Victoria is initially legally recognised to be its mother and is recorded on the birth certificate. Her partner (if any), is recorded as the father or other parent. 


The period leading up to conception, in which many lifestyle factors can be modified to improve your chance of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. See for more information.  

preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A)

A technique used to identify embryos with the correct amount of genetic material. This is also known as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS). 

preimplantation genetic testing for monogenetic testing disorders (PGT-M)

A technique used to identify embryos that are not affected by a ‘faulty’ gene that can lead to disease. This is also known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). 

primary infertility

See infertility


registered ART provider

A provider registered under Part 8 of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008. 


secondary infertility

See infertility

single embryo transfer (SET)

The process of transferring one embryo into a woman's uterus, rather than two or more embryos. SET is considered the gold standard of practice in IVF to minimise the risk of multiple pregnancy which are associated with higher risk to both mother and babies. 


Male gamete 

stimulated cycle

A treatment cycle in which the woman’s ovaries are stimulated with superovulatory drugs to produce more than one egg. 

substitute parentage order

Intended parent(s) of a child born under a surrogacy arrangement can apply to the Supreme or County Court for a substitute parentage order if the child was conceived as a result of a treatment procedure in Victoria and if the intended parent(s) live in Victoria at the time of making the application.  

A substitute parentage order will name the intended parent(s) as the child’s legal parent(s). An application for a substitute parentage order must be made no less than 28 days and no more than six months after the child is born. 


An arrangement whereby a woman is treated with an embryo created from gametes from the intended parent(s) or donor eggs and sperm. She carries the pregnancy with the intention or agreement that the offspring will be parented by the intended parent(s)

surrogacy agreement


An arrangement in which a woman (the surrogate) agrees to carry and give birth to a child on behalf of another person or couple (the intended or commissioning parent(s).


thaw cycle

A cycle where cryopreserved (frozen) eggs, sperm or embryos are thawed prior to transfer. 

thawed embryo

A previously cryopreserved (frozen) embryo that has been thawed. 

traditional surrogacy

A surrogacy arrangement in which an egg from the surrogate is used. Fertility treatment, either artificial insemination or IVF, is used with the intended father’s sperm. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate carries the pregnancy and gives birth to a child that they are genetically related to.  


The procedure of placing embryo(s) or egg(s) and sperm into the body of a woman.


unexplained infertility

See infertility

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