September 11, 2014
IVF Medications- Optimizing Your FertilityFertility drugs introduce a whole new vocabulary when you’re undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). But, despite the tongue-twisting names, IVF medications play an important role by allowing physicians to control and optimize ovarian stimulation.

Throughout an IVF cycle, you will be prescribed drugs that prepare your body and optimize the conditions necessary for conceiving. The medications you take will vary depending on the type of infertility you are experiencing. Over time, the medications may be further refined based on how your body responds.

The staff at the Fertility Institute of New Orleans is skilled in finding the right mix of IVF medications for their patients. Physicians carefully track patients, fine tuning treatment to each patient’s unique reaction to medications.

The medications prescribed during an IVF cycle orchestrate your cycle and vary based on the where you are in a cycle. Cycle phases and some of the drugs commonly used include:

Ovarian Stimulation

Fertility treatments typically include drugs to stimulate the ovaries. Among the medications:

  • Clomiphene Citrate. This medication has been in use for more than 25 years and is the most commonly used medication to stimulate the ovaries. An anti-estrogen drug, it causes the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to release hormones – GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), and LH (luteinizing hormone) – that will stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs.  Brand names include:  Clomid®and Serophene®.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH bypasses the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to directly stimulate the growth of follicles. It can stimulate the development of multiple eggs in a cycle. Brand names include: Follistim®, Bravelle®, and Gonal-F®.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH). LH also stimulates the development of multiple eggs. Medications containing LH are called menotropins and are a mixture of FSH and LH. Brand names includeMenopur®, Pergonal®, and Repronex®.

Preventing Premature Ovulation

If eggs release prematurely, then they cannot be retrieved for the fertilization phase. Drugs administered to prevent early ovulation include:

  • Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonist (GnRH agonist). This prevents a mid-cycle hormonal surge of FSH, LH, and estrogen, which could cause the eggs to be released from the ovaries prematurely. Brand names include: Lupron®, Zoladex®, and Synarel®.
  • Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Antagonist (GnRH antagonist). This medication also prevents premature ovulation by controlling the release of LH and FSH. Brand names include Antagon®and Cetrotide®.

Trigger Egg Maturation and Release

At the end of ovarian stimulation, drugs are administered to cause the eggs to mature. Drugs include:

  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). This is a hormone used to trigger final maturation of the egg inside a follicle and the release of the egg from the ovaries. Brand names include Novarel®, Pregnyl®, and Ovidrel®.

Supporting Implantation

Medication is also used to enhance implantation of the egg in the uterus after fertilization.  Among the drugs used:

  • Progesterone. A hormone that prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation. Brand names include: Endometrin®, Progesterone in Oil®, and Prometrium®.
  • Estrogen. A female sex hormone used to thicken the uterine lining and encourage implantation.

Your Next Steps

If you are having difficulty conceiving, your first step is examining what may be hindering conception. From there, a treatment can be devised to help you overcome the difficulties. If you would like to learn more, please request a personal consultation.