Is it Worth it to Have Ovulation Induction?
When you’re considering any elective medical procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have an elective procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of having ovulation induction.
Ovulation induction uses oral or injectable medications to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce one or more ripe eggs. It’s used for women who don’t ovulate at all (anovulation) or who ovulate infrequently (oligoovulation). For more on what it’s like to have artificial insemination, please see Ovulation Induction: the Procedure and Recovery.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective procedure with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the provider who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
Any treatment has risks, and it’s important to be aware of them so that you can weigh them against the benefits.
A major risk of ovulation induction with medications is the risk of multiple births. (This occurs because the medications may stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg per month; when not using ovulation induction, ovaries usually form only one egg per month.) The incidence of twins is greater with ovulation induction than with natural conception; these are also increased in some other forms of ART. The incidence of higher-order multiples (three or more babies at one time) is also increased with ovulation induction. Higher-order multiples are extremely rare in cases of natural conception, and while the risk is increased with other forms of ART, it’s greatest with ovulation induction. Cases in which women give birth to six or eight babies at one time are almost always the result of ovulation induction.
Multiple births greatly increase the risk of health problems in the babies, and the more babies that are born at once, the greater is the risk to their health. It’s therefore in the best interests of the family to try to reduce the risk of multiple births, so your physician will likely monitor you to see how many eggs your ovaries are producing each month. If there are too many eggs in a given month, your physician may recommend that you not attempt pregnancy that month.
Other risks of ovulation induction are the side effects that the mother may experience from the medications. It’s common for women taking these medications to experience nausea, mood swings, fatigue, breast tenderness, and changes in vaginal discharge. Injectable fertility medications may also result in pain or bruising at the injection site; this can be reduced by rotating injection sites rather than using the same site each time.
Ovarian cysts may form; these are fluid-filled sacs on the ovary. They may cause pelvic pain, and while they usually go away on their own, they sometimes require surgery. If an ovarian cyst ruptures, it may cause internal bleeding. Another risk is the formation of blood clots in the veins or arteries, which can then damage the brain, lungs, or other organs.
Women using ovulation induction medications also sometimes experience a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. In this condition, the ovaries become enlarged, and the abdominal cavity fills up with fluid. This requires hospitalization. With adequate treatment, women usually recover, but the condition can cause kidney failure, strokes, and death.
For a woman with anovulation or oligoovulation, ovulation induction medications offer the possibility of having a child that is genetically related to her. Additionally, the expense of treatment with medications for ovulation induction alone is far less than the expense of other forms of ART, which could make it more accessible for those whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost of ART.
Whether ovulation induction is used alone or as part of another procedure, many women believe that almost anything is worth enduring for their children. Most people who have children wouldn’t trade them for anything. Although the use of ovulation induction medications may cause discomfort and carries significant risks, if it allows a woman to become pregnant with her child, these downsides are often quickly forgotten.
The cost for ovulation induction medication varies from around $50 per month (for oral medications) to up to $5,000 per month (for injectable medications). This cost varies depending on several factors, including the region and the particular clinic. You should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine the exact cost. Keep in mind that financing is often available. For more detail, visit our Ovulation Induction Cost page.