Fertility Treatment "Light" Ovulation Induction – It's Not Always IVF
Spending time with Dr. Joshua Hurwtiz, one of the five board certified Reproductive Endocrinologists (REI) at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT) reminded me of a few things the other day.
Fertility Treatment – Not All About IVF
It’s not all about in vitro fertilization (IVF). Now, really, I do know that. But it got me thinking about when the last time I posted something on ovulation induction.
Because the last thing I want to do is scare people off, from reading this blog, from making an appointment to see a REI, from coming in to get some help because conceiving a baby hasn’t happened yet.
Dr. Hurwitz was reminding me that not everyone needs IVF and that he helps women on a regular basis become pregnant through ovulation induction alone.
I confess to thinking about this as fertility treatment “light”. My bad. This blog is for everyone. It’s for the men and women who come into fertility treatment and need very little assistance, a gentle nudge really to those who need more and maybe even a little bit more.
When To See a Fertility Specialist
So for those of you out there who are just starting to consider whether to make an appointment with a fertility specialist because you haven’t conceived yet, here are the most basic guidelines. If everything is ok, physically, with you and your partner, as far as you know, the recommendations are trying to conceive naturally for one year under the age of thirty five and six months over the age of thirty five.
If you see that you may need some assistance, remember that very often, very little assistance works. Don’t be scared off by high technology approaches or fear of the associated expenses. Please do your homework. Not every fertility doctor is a board certified Reproductive Endocrinologist. REI’s are specially trained in treating fertility. It’s the doctor that you are most likely to conceive with, and in the shortest amount of time.
What is Ovulation Induction?
Here’s some information about ovulation induction taken straight from the RMACT website.
Some causes of infertility can be effectively treated with ovulation medicine known as ovulation induction, or superovulation therapy, combined with scheduled relations or artificial means.
The focus of ovulation induction therapy is to achieve healthy ovulation and, depending on the diagnosis, the ovulation of multiple eggs instead of just one each month. Inducing the release of more than one egg can dramatically increase a woman’s per cycle chance of pregnancy.
Ovulation medicine is used to induce ovulation. Then, at the appropriate time, the sperm are introduced into the vagina either through scheduled relations, intrauterine insemination (IUI) or artificial insemination.
How Ovulation Induction Therapy Works
- The first step in superovulation therapy is to administer medications to enhance the development of a mature egg(s) by the ovaries. During the normal reproductive cycle, two hormones – follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) – are required to initiate and complete the process of egg maturation. In superovulation therapy, medications are administered to women either orally or by injection to increase levels of both hormones.
- The development of the eggs in their follicles (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovary is then monitored by transvaginal ultrasound.
- Once the follicles have reached the appropriate size to contain a mature egg, an injection is given to trigger ovulation, providing the optimal timing for fertilization and, hopefully, a pregnancy.
- Patients are then instructed to have scheduled relations over the next two days to coincide with ovulation. If, instead, the treatment plan requires intrauterine insemination, it is performed during the same two days. The semen sample containing an enriched, highly motile concentration of sperm is placed directly into the uterus through the cervix via a small flexible tube (catheter).
- A simple blood test done five to seven days later confirms whether adequate hormone concentrations to support implantation exist. If the hormone levels are low, your fertility specialist will recommend hormonal supplementation.
The goal of ovulation induction is to increase the likelihood that ovulation will occur at the right time and that the sperm will reach the egg(s) to complete fertilization and create a pregnancy. For many couples the chances of pregnancy through superovulation therapy approaches 20% with a single month of therapy.
These superovulation medications are all different forms of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), the most important hormone for the development of healthy eggs. FSH is made by your body in the pituitary gland. By taking additional FSH, you can help your body improve egg production.
Injectable medicines are more powerful than the oral medication and tend to produce a larger number of eggs. Two to three ultrasounds and blood samples are needed to assess the process of egg maturation and to monitor the safety and likelihood of success of these ovulation medications.
Thanks to Dr. Hurwitz for the reminder that some fertility treatment cycles are very simple. Not everyone needs advanced care.
We are here for you, from the most simple fertility treatment protocols to the most advanced.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.