Active Ovulation Management with Insemination
Ovulation induction is the process of stimulating the ovaries to ripen and release multiple eggs in a single cycle. This process has many useful applications in fertility treatment, including in vitro fertilization. Through close monitoring and the use of fertility drugs, ovulation induction offers our patients a way to maximize their chances of conception.
A Natural Cycle
To understand how ovulation induction works, it is important to first understand how natural ovulation works under normal circumstances. At the beginning of a menstrual cycle, the pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) into the body. This causes several of the ovarian follicles that contain immature eggs to develop and the eggs within to begin ripening. Although several eggs will begin the maturation process, one will quickly become dominant and the others will disintegrate. Once an egg is mature, lutenizing hormone (LH) is released, causing the egg to break out of the follicle and begin its journey through the fallopian tube and into the uterus.
In most women, only one egg is released in any given cycle. Some women may occasionally release two, but women who are having trouble conceiving may not be releasing any eggs at all.
Once the egg is released, a woman's most fertile time has begun. In order for pregnancy to occur, the egg should be fertilized within the next 24 hours. Because each woman's cycle is unique and it can be difficult to pinpoint when ovulation will occur, natural conception can sometimes be a frustrating game of hit-or-miss, even for those without fertility problems.
A Simulated Cycle
During ovulation induction, fertility drugs are administered to mimic the hormones that are normally released by the body. For the week before menstruation, when a new cycle begins, the patient is given medications to prevent early ovulation. Once the new cycle starts, the patient begins receiving either oral clomiphene citrate or injectable gonadotropins, two commonly prescribed fertility drugs. Clomiphene citrate works by stimulating the body to produce more FSH, while gonadotropins simulate the effects of FSH on the ovaries, and both cause follicles to develop and the eggs inside to begin maturing. However, unlike the body's normal processes, fertility drugs generally trigger the maturation of multiple eggs at the same time.
While the fertility drugs are being administered, the patient's cycle is closely monitored through regular blood tests and ultrasounds to ensure that the desired process is taking place. This monitoring also allows us to determine precisely when the eggs are fully mature, at which time the fertility drugs are ceased and a single injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is given to trigger ovulation.
The ability to stimulate and control the progression of the ovulation cycle is what makes many of our advanced fertility treatments possible. For example, ovulation induction is a key step in the in vitro fertilization process. The ability to pinpoint ovulation allows us to retrieve eggs when they are fully mature, but before they have been released from the ovaries. Also, because the administration of fertility drugs results in the maturation of multiple eggs at once, the chances of successful conception are increased. When the eggs are collected and fertilized, any extra embryos can be frozen, which allows multiple cycles of IVF to be performed without repeating the ovulation induction process each time.
Women who have a hormonal imbalance, low ovarian reserve, or who do not ovulate regularly can often benefit from fertility drugs alone. Simply by stimulating the ovaries and pinpointing a woman's most fertile days, we can help many patients achieve successful conception and pregnancy without necessitating more invasive treatments.
Ovulation induction also allows us to maximize the effectiveness of procedures like intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Potential Side Effects
Patients who undergo ovulation induction, alone or as part of an artificial insemination treatment, risk a multiple pregnancy because multiple eggs are likely to be released. The development of more than one fetus at a time can put both the mother and babies at risk. This is slightly less of a concern when ovulation induction is part of an in vitro fertilization cycle, because IVF involves the removal of all the mature eggs, followed by the reintroduction of a controlled number of embryos.
Some women may also experience certain side effects as a result of the fertility drugs. Visit our page about fertility medications to learn about specific side effects.
The cancellation of an IVF cycle during the ovulation induction phase may be required if the patient responds poorly to the fertility drugs and does not develop enough follicles to have a reasonable chance of successful fertilization. Cancellation may also take place if the patient responds too strongly, creating the risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and high-order multiple pregnancy. Understandably, canceling a cycle is a frustrating and upsetting experience, but we encourage patients to remain positive. Canceling one IVF cycle does not mean that future cycles will be unsuccessful.
Contact IV Florida Today - Offices Located Throughout South Florida
To learn more about how ovulation induction is performed or the fertility drugs we use, contact our offices to schedule a consultation.