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Ovulation Induction

Ovulation induction with fertility medications

Women who either ovulate irregularly or don’t ovulate at all sometimes need a little help from fertility medications. This condition, known as anovulatory infertility, is relatively common and is caused by hormone imbalances and is present in about one-fourth of women struggling with infertility. Super-ovulation is ovulation induction in women who have regular, monthly periods. This is often used to maximize egg and sperm interaction in combination with IUI. Ovulation induction is a way for our Central Texas fertility doctors to ensure that at least one egg is available at the right time to meet sperm and allow fertilization to happen.

In this common fertility treatment, women take fertility medications that stimulate the ovaries to develop and release eggs. Once the eggs are mature, an injectable medication is used to spark ovulation, so that sperm can be introduced at exactly the right time to achieve pregnancy.

What fertility medications are used?

Depending on the woman’s diagnosis, different fertility medications may be prescribed as part of an ovulation induction cycle.

  • Clomid (clomiphene citrate) – Blocks estrogen receptors to induce the development of multiple eggs.
  • Femara (letrozole) – An estrogen blocker commonly used in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (those who have very long or irregular menstrual cycles) or to induce super-ovulation in those with ovulatory cycles.
  • Gonal-F, Follistim, Menopur (gonadotropins) – Stimulates egg development in women who do not ovulate, or who ovulate irregularly. May also stimulate development of multiple eggs at once.
  • Ovidrel (human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)) – Injectable “trigger shot” medication that triggers the release of the mature egg(s) from the ovaries at a certain time.

While taking these medications, egg development and hormone levels are closely monitored. This allows our Central Texas fertility doctors to visualize the developing ovarian follicles and count the number of developing eggs on the ovaries, and to know when the eggs are ready, and it’s time to trigger ovulation. Monitoring also reduces the risk of rare side effects, such as ovarian hyperstimulation.

Who needs ovulation induction?

Ovulation induction is sometimes used in a “natural” cycle, in which a couple uses timed intercourse to coincide with ovulation. In some women, it is used in combination with intrauterine insemination, in which sperm are injected directly into the uterus through a catheter at the time of ovulation. Some of these medications are used as part of egg recruitment for use in IVF.

Our fertility specialists may recommend fertility medications for women who:

For women who do not ovulate without fertility medications, the goal may be to ovulate just one single healthy egg for conception through timed intercourse or IUI. For those with regular ovulation or unexplained infertility, the goal may be to create “superovulation,” in which a small number of eggs are released at the same time to increase the chances of conception through IUI. Regardless, the number of eggs is closely monitored to reduce the risk of twins or higher multiples.

Learn more about fertility medications and ovulation

For many women and couples, ovulation induction is all that is needed to overcome infertility and achieve pregnancy. To determine if you are a candidate for this baseline fertility treatment, our Central Texas fertility doctors begin with fertility testing to check whether you are ovulating and whether you or your partner has any other barriers to fertility.

To find out if this fertility treatment is right for you, contact us to schedule an appointment with a board certified reproductive endocrinologist.