What’s Ovulation Induction?
In order to become pregnant, a woman must ovulate, meaning that her ovaries produce a ripe egg ready to be fertilized. Some women don’t ovulate at all, and some don’t ovulate every month. This is particularly true as women age, though even younger women may also have problems with ovulation. Ovulation induction uses medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. Sometimes, oral medications, such as clomiphene citrate, are used. Other times, injectable medications are used. Ovulation induction may be used as a stand-alone fertility treatment, or may be part of another fertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
If you’re choosing ovulation induction, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that ovulation induction is right for you, then proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of having ovulation induction at Ovulation Induction: Risks and Benefits.
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 doctor who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
How it’s done
There are several different medications that can be used for ovulation induction. Your doctor will choose the best one for you, based on your medical history.
Clomiphene is an oral medication that’s useful for women who never ovulate, or who sometimes don’t ovulate during a menstrual cycle. It works by altering the body’s hormonal balance, stimulating changes that cause the ripening of an egg. Clomiphene is taken for five days per menstrual cycle, beginning a few days after the beginning of your menstrual period. In studies, it has a good record of success in achieving pregnancy for women who aren’t ovulating regularly. For those with other types of fertility problems, clomiphene is not very useful.
There are also several types of injectable fertility medications, which alter various aspects of the body’s hormonal balance in order to stimulate ovulation. These medications are also taken for several (usually 7 to 12) days per menstrual cycle, beginning a few days after the beginning of your menstrual period. Usually, you will need to give yourself the injections at home, or have your partner or someone else give you the injections; you will receive training on how to do this. These medications also have a good track record of helping women get pregnant who are experiencing low or no ovulation.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your clinic
When choosing an assisted reproductive technology clinic (sometimes called a fertility clinic), there are several factors you may want to take into consideration. One is the physician(s) and others who will oversee your care. Make sure that your physician is board-certified; you may want to know that a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist (a specialist in the hormones involved in reproduction) is on the staff, as a consultant if necessary. You should also expect that your clinic will be a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), and follows the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). You might also want to consider the clinic’s success rates, which are collected and published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but you should be aware that interpreting this data is more complicated than you might think.
For more help in your search for a reproductive medicine specialist, visit our How to Find the Best Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic page. At Doctor Review, you can also search providers for patient reviews to help you find the very best.
Getting ready for the procedure
In order to use these medications effectively, you need to monitor your menstrual cycle and be ready to begin each cycle of medication at the right time. Before being prescribed these medications, your doctor will have done some medical testing to determine whether ovulation induction medications are likely to help you become pregnant.
You may experience some soreness and/or bruising around the injection site, if you are using injectable fertility medications. Otherwise, the most difficult part of your recovery from each cycle of medication is likely to be the wait, as you can’t test for pregnancy until near the time you would expect your period again.