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Ovulation Induction

How Ovulation Induction Works

A woman speaks with a fertility specialist about IVF protocols

If you have been trying to get pregnant but haven’t yet, there are many potential causes. One of the most common culprits is a problem with ovulation. Irregular or absent ovulation can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Low progesterone
  • Obesity
  • Extremely low body fat or extreme exercise

Any of these conditions can disrupt or stop ovulation and make pregnancy a challenge. Our team of fertility experts at IVFMD in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area are trained to diagnose and treat fertility issues with the most advanced technology and one shared goal — to help you get and stay pregnant so you can have the family of your dreams.

When irregular ovulation is the cause of your fertility issues, we may recommend ovulation induction. Here’s what you need to know about the treatment.

Ovulation 101

Before we dive into ovulation induction, let’s take a quick refresher course on the role of ovulation in reproduction.

Your menstrual cycle begins on the first day of your period and ends the day before your next period starts. Meanwhile, your pituitary gland releases follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) that prompts the growth and development of an ovarian follicle, a tiny sac that contains an egg. The sac grows throughout your cycle and ruptures at the time of ovulation, releasing its egg.

Ideally, ovulation occurs every 28 days or so during a regular and predictable menstrual cycle. During the day of ovulation — about two weeks after the first day of your period — the released mature egg is picked up by your fallopian tube and can be fertilized for up to 24 hours after ovulation. If no sperm is present to fertilize it, the egg eventually arrives into the uterine cavity and is shed with menstruation.

If the egg becomes fertilized, the resulting embryo travels through the fallopian tube and implants itself into your uterine lining (about a week after ovulation) — and you’re pregnant.

Irregular ovulation (oligoovulation) can make this process challenging, and absent ovulation (anovulation) makes it impossible. Ovulation induction optimizes the ovulation process to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

The ovulation induction process

There are two main types of medication for ovulation induction: oral and injection.

Oral medications to induce ovulation

If your ovulation is unpredictable, there are oral medications that stimulate your pituitary gland to release FSH, begin the development of follicles (sometimes more than one), and jump-start ovulation.

The two main oral medications we prescribe are ClomidⓇ and FemaraⓇ. You take these pills between the third and seventh day of your cycle. We use ultrasound to check the growth of the follicle and at the appropriate time, an injection of HCG to trigger ovulation. An IUI or intrauterine insemination can be performed in the next 1-2 days.

Injectable medications to induce ovulation

Rather than “tricking” your brain into producing and releasing FSH, injectable medications take a more direct approach. The injection contains a dose of FSH that goes straight to the source and prompts the development of follicles in your ovaries. This method often results in multifollicular development, which can give a higher chance of pregnancy but also means a higher risk for twins and multiples.

The injection is used daily starting on day three of your cycle and continues until the follicles reach maturity. During this time, we monitor the growth of the follicle(s) with sonograms. It usually takes about 8 to 10 days of injections before the follicle(s) become mature, at which time the HCG injection is used to trigger ovulation. An IUI can be performed within 1-2 days later.

Getting pregnant with ovulation induction

Whichever medication and method of ovulation induction you use, the goal is to prompt ovulation and time it so that you can either have sexual intercourse or intrauterine insemination during the three days following ovulation when conception is most likely.

If you suspect that irregular ovulation is preventing you from conceiving, schedule a consultation with our experienced team by calling us at any of our three Texas locations in Irving, Arlington, or Grapevine, or by using our online booking tool. Ovulation and pregnancy may be just a medication away.

Sy Le, M.D.
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