TTC: Understanding The Role Of Fertility Medications In Overcoming Infertility

Understanding Fertility Medications

Given the many reasons for infertility, each patient should have a unique medication protocol while undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) to get pregnant. That said, certain fertility medications are commonly used during intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help with conception. Understanding how each medication works and how to use the drug correctly can increase the chances of fertility treatment success.

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Contraceptives are critical

Birth control while undergoing fertility treatment? While the idea may initially sound counterintuitive, the prescription plays an essential role in regulating the menstrual cycle. This medication is vital for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis who may not experience a regular monthly menstrual cycle. Birth control ahead of fertility treatment can help the healthcare team know when to expect ovulation so egg retrieval can be performed at the proper time. A regulated cycle can also help calculate the expected due date should conception occur.

Regulate the ovaries

In some cases, down-regulation drugs will be used to suppress natural ovarian function during treatment. By switching off normal hormones and ovulation, other prescribed drugs can create multiple mature eggs that stay in the follicles until retrieval occurs. Down-regulation drugs are typically administered by injection at pivotal times in the cycle.

Stimulate those follicles

To ensure maximum chances of success, the fertility team will next use follicle-stimulating hormones to encourage multiple eggs to grow in a single cycle. Multiple eggs are necessary for IVF because not every retrieved egg will grow successfully in the lab once combined with sperm. Other embryos may exhibit chromosomal abnormalities that prohibit implantation. The more eggs, the better the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Trigger time

Once enough eggs have been stimulated to grow and reach the proper size, retrieval can take place. A trigger shot is given 24-36 hours before the scheduled retrieval to prompt the body to release the mature eggs. This medication must be timed precisely to ensure success.

Added progesterone

For some patients with low levels of natural progesterone, a supplemental amount may be prescribed. Progesterone is essential early on to support implantation and healthy embryo development. Most IVF clinics will recommend that patients continue to take the medication through the first trimester, but each case is unique, so always double-check with the doctor.

Medication 101

Many patients go into fertility treatment not knowing much about medications but quickly become experts in the various drugs used. From birth control to stimulants, each medication plays a pivotal role in regulating the cycle, encouraging egg growth, releasing mature eggs, and supporting the development of a healthy pregnancy. Patients should be sure to understand the exact dose of each drug and when to take the medication for the best chances of success.

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