In vitro fertilization is a complicated process with many important areas of treatment to consider. One crucial part of the IVF process is fertility medication prescribed by the treating doctor. Medications help to prepare the female body for IVF treatment and, as such, they are an integral and necessary part of the in vitro fertilization process. Fertility medications come in different forms from oral medications to injectables to nasal sprays. However, it is important to note that one medication is not right for all patients.
Proper ovulation, where a woman’s body regularly produces and releases healthy eggs, is necessary for pregnancy to naturally occur. One of the biggest causes of fertility issues in women is that they suffer from disordered ovulation. There are a variety of reasons that a woman could be experiencing an ovulation disorder. Some of these reasons include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA), diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), and menopause.
PCOS is the most common cause of disordered ovulation in women and occurs in women with a hormone imbalance that inhibits regular ovulation. FHA is a disorder where women do not have periods because of high stress. DOR occurs when a woman’s ovary is unable to produce viable eggs, or the number of eggs produced is lowered, for any number of reasons. Menopause causes a decline in ovarian function because of age, and POI is essentially early menopause in women under 40.
Many in vitro fertilization medications are meant to treat disordered ovulation and can help get a woman ovulate normally which is key to conception. One of the most common medications that women are prescribed to assist in ovulation is clomiphene, with brand names Clomid and Serophene. Clomiphene is an anti-estrogen medication that acts on the pituitary gland to promote regular ovulation and is taken orally. This medication is highly prescribed to women experiencing PCOS. Some other fertility medications that also help to promote ovulation have to be injected including human menopausal gonadotropin medications or hMG (Repronex or Pergonal), follicle-stimulating hormones or FSH (Gonal-F or Follistim), and gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues or GnRH (Lupron, Synarel or Cetrotide).
Doctors have to consider all of the factors contributing to infertility. In addition to disordered ovulation, issues with fallopian tubes and uterine contour, or the presence of fibroids in the uterus, have to be considered, as well as a woman’s age, lifestyle and prior health history. There are many reasons that a woman could be suffering from infertility, and it is important to undergo testing and treatment by a qualified physician to determine individual issues. Once the source of the issue is determined, a doctor can decide whether fertility medications are appropriate and choose the best type of fertility medication for the individual.