Ovarian stimulation is the first step of in vitro fertilization (IVF)
The IVF process includes several steps, the first of which is ovarian stimulation. The goal of fertility medication is to enable you to safely produce as many healthy eggs as possible. Under the expert guidance of our San Antonio fertility doctors, each patient will receive a customized stimulation protocol.
The different types of protocols for ovarian stimulation
Each patient is different, which is why our San Antonio fertility doctors always develop a customized stimulation protocol (medication and dosage) for each woman. Before beginning the process of ovarian stimulation, Dr. Erika Munch will explain why she is recommending a specific protocol.
Stimulating the ovaries is very complex, and it involves many variables that can affect the ultimate outcome. The number of eggs that develop depends on a patient’s age, medication dosage and overall ovarian health.
- Older patients generally have diminished ovarian reserve when compared to younger women. As a result, Dr. Munch would expect them to develop fewer eggs.
- Patients who are significantly above their ideal body weight typically require higher doses of stimulation medication and may produce fewer eggs.
- Women who have had ovarian surgery or who have ovarian dysfunction typically don’t produce as many eggs as patients who do not have these issues.
The similarities among stimulation protocols
Although our San Antonio fertility doctors use many different stimulation protocols, they each have some similarities. For example, many protocols start with three to four weeks of birth control pills. Although it might seem counterintuitive, birth control pills help synchronize egg development. This results in a greater number of eggs and higher fertilization rates.
Another similarity is the classes of medication that serve as the foundation of ovarian stimulation. These include injectable gonadotrophins (Gonal F, Follistim, and Menopur®) to cause the eggs to develop and a gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) analog (Lupron, Cetrotide, or Antagon) to prevent premature ovulation. Patients will also take a medicine to cause final egg maturation (Ovidrel or hCG) and one or two of several types of progesterone to support the uterine lining (endometrium) after the embryo transfer.
The exact medication type and dosage will vary from patient to patient, as well as the method of administering these medications. Our San Antonio fertility doctor will discuss all of this information with you before beginning ovarian stimulation.
Contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment and learn more about how IVF can help you welcome a healthy baby into your family.