Ovulation induction therapy

Ovulation Induction Therapy: What Is It?

Ovulation induction therapy is the use of medications to help encourage your body to release an egg or eggs each menstrual cycle. It's sometimes used to help increase the chances of becoming pregnant if you have fertility issues. While there are several types of medications used to help induce ovulation, the goal of the treatment and the effects are generally the same.

How Does Ovulation Induction Therapy Work?

Ovulation induction therapy works by stimulating the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The goal is to create an optimal environment for the growth and release of the egg(s). Depending on the medication prescribed, it can take from one to four weeks for the egg to be released. After the egg is released, it can be fertilized by sperm, which may result in pregnancy.

Types of Ovulation Induction

The most common types of ovulation induction treatments used to encourage your body to ovulate are:

  • Clomiphene citrate: This is considered to be the first-line treatment for women with ovulation problems. It's usually taken for five days at the start of your menstrual cycle.
  • Gonadotropin (hCG): This medication is typically used when clomiphene citrate does not result in ovulation. HCG injections are usually combined with ultrasound monitoring.
  • Aromatase inhibitors: These medications work by blocking the aromatase enzyme which can help prevent ovulation problems.
  • Metformin: Metformin is typically prescribed to women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It helps regulate the hormones that can interfere with ovulation.

Side Effects & Risks

The side effects of ovulation induction therapy vary depending on the medication used and how your body reacts to it. Common side effects of these medications include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain

Some of the more serious risks associated with ovulation induction treatments include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), multiple births (such as twins, triplets, or higher-order multiple births), and an increased risk of birth defects. It's important to discuss the risks with your doctor before starting any type of ovulation induction therapy.