What Is Ovulation Induction?
Ovulation induction is the process of using medication to stimulate the follicles of the ovaries so that a higher number of mature eggs can be obtained than would be possible with a normal cycle. This ability to initiate and control the ovulation cycle helps to promote the success of IVF.
How Ovulation Induction Works
Before inducing ovulation, we will take blood samples and perform a transvaginal ultrasound in order to confirm your ovulation cycle. About a week before the new cycle begins, the patient will receive medications that prevent premature ovulation. The medications that can be used during fertility treatment include:
- Clomiphene citrate (sold under the trade names Clomid® and Serophene®): This medication, administered in tablet form, promotes increased production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH can also be directly injected.
- Gonadotropins: This injectable medication induces the release of matured eggs after the follicles have developed.
- Glucophage (Metformin): This insulin-lowering medication is frequently used among patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to reverse the endocrine abnormalities associated with the condition.
Throughout the ovulation induction stage, the patient’s progress is carefully monitored through further blood tests and ultrasounds. This stage is essential to IVF because it allows us to retrieve eggs at precisely the right time, when they are fully mature but have not yet been released by the ovaries. The use of fertility medications also encourages the production and maturation of multiple eggs, increasing the chances of successful conception. Any extra embryos can be frozen and used in future IVF cycles, eliminating the need to repeat the ovulation induction stage.
Risks of Ovulation Induction
For all the benefits of ovulation induction, the process does introduce some risks. Most notably, the medications used to stimulate ovulation increase the risk of higher order multiple births and the development of cysts on the ovaries. There is also an increased risk of a rare condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can cause severe pain in the pelvic, abdominal, and chest regions. If it appears that a woman is responding too strongly to the ovulation induction medications, the IVF cycle may be cancelled during this early phase to avoid the possibility of OHSS. This does not mean, however, that future cycles will not be successful.
Learn More about Ovulation Induction and IVF
If you would like to learn more about the stages of IVF, including ovulation induction, please contact the Fertility Institute today. We would be pleased to answer any questions you might have and assist you in scheduling an appointment at one of our three office locations.