IVF cycles generally span over several months, depending on the doctor’s diagnosis, and the reason for your infertility. In some instances many doctors will give you a round of gonadotropins in order to make sure that greatest number of eggs will be produced and available for fertilization. Of course, each doctor and each fertility clinic will have its own procedures for moving forward with IVF stimulation, as well as the types of fertility medications that they like to combine.
Typical Procedures for IVF Cycles, and Ovarian Stimulation
While each patient will have some variation of the following procedures, most clinics tend to follow something similar to this type of protocol. First, most doctors will want to use that first month in your IVF cycle to calm down your ovaries. This is accomplished by taking different medications, most often some sort of birth control pill, or a GnRH agonist (which is a type of medication…the most popular is Lupron) to suppress the follicle stimulating hormones. This shuts the ovaries down, which seems counterintuitive. But, there is a method to the madness. The gonadotropins are given to be able to harvest a good number of productive follicles without risking the chance that the eggs will release before they’ve been harvested for fertilization.
The Luteal Phase and IVF Stimulation
Lupron is usually started between the 17th and the 22nd day of the luteal phase prior to stimulation. The Lupron is most often given as an injection, at night, for a few weeks. Most doctors will want to do bloodwork and perform an ultrasound to confirm that the ovaries are in a position and your estrogen levels are lowered before the stimulation therapy is begun. Once it is determined that there are enough viable follicles with eggs, the Lupron is usually discontinued after this and hCG is administered, usually closely timed to the time of egg retrieval.
Microdose Protocols and Lupron
This is generally the type of protocol that physicians will adopt if a woman has not responded well to other protocols. The Lupron is diluted and the dosage is taken both in the morning and at night. In addition, gonadotropins are taken twice a day as well, beginning on the third/fourth day until the set time for egg retrieval.
Ganirelix and Cetrotide are two fertility medications that keep your body, in particular, your ovaries from going haywire. They suppress the pituitary so that it won’t release additional LH or FSH. Some doctors opt to start it immediately, while others wait until they see quite a few nice mature eggs forming. Both fertility meds have been around for a long time, with a few side effects that aren’t generally too terrible and often go away with time.
Other IVF drugs that are commonly used are called Gonal-F, Follistim, Luveris, Repronex, and Menopur). These IVF meds either stimulate the ovaries, or stimulate the follicles that produce the eggs. When on these IVF medications your doctor will monitor you very closely to see if there’s progress, and then will adjust dosages as needed. Another IVF drug that is often given in combination with other IVF medications is progesterone, which helps the lining of the uterus to become healthier and better able to support implantation. This can be taken in pill form, as an injectable, or as a vaginal insert.
IVF Drugs Make the Difference
Spend any time on the internet and you’ll quickly find that women are the most successful in their pregnancy attempts when their doctors use the fertility medications in combination with various procedures and other IVF drugs. It is the combined effort that has the most success and allows women, and couples, to experience parenthood.