Ovulation is an essential first step to conceiving and delivering a healthy baby. Without the presence of a mature egg in a fallopian tube, sperm have nothing to fertilize. Even if you opt for in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other assisted-reproductive technology (ART), conception starts with ovulation.
But what if you don’t ovulate? Or you ovulate so irregularly that you can’t time intercourse to match the release of a mature egg?
Our OC Fertility experts, Dr. Sharon Moayeri and Dr. Nidhee Sachdev, help your eggs along with ovulation-induction medications. Here’s a breakdown of the drugs that help you ovulate, so you can decide with your OB/GYN which is best for you.
Oral ovulation induction comes in the form of pills or tablets that you take by mouth. The timing of the medications is important, so it may help to schedule it at the same time every day.
Your doctor will choose from:
Clomiphene is a chemical whose actions are similar to those of the hormone estrogen, which stimulates your ovaries to ripen and release an egg each month. You usually take it for five days, starting about the third day of your menstrual cycle. Brand names include Clomid®, Milophene®, and Serophene®.
As with all medications, clomiphene may have side effects in about 20%, including upset stomach, headache, and hot flashes. You shouldn’t use clomiphene for more than six cycles to reduce the risk of complications, such as increased risk for ovarian cancer.
Letrozole is a drug that was originally used to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women because it lowers the production of estrogen. However, letrozole also induces ovulation in women during their reproductive years.
Research suggests that letrozole is more effective at inducing ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) than clomiphene. Letrozole actually inhibits the production of estrogen. When estrogen levels drop, your pituitary gland releases gonadotropins (FSH and LH) that signal your ovaries to ovulate .
At least one study showed that women who took letrozole were more likely to get pregnant and have a live birth than those who took clomiphene. Brand names for letrozole include Femara®.
If oral medications didn’t work for you, we also offer injectable ovulation induction. Some formulations contain all of the hormones you need in one shot, or we may combine shots. We teach you how to self-administer these drugs in the safety and comfort of your own home.
Your pituitary gland produces follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones help your eggs ripen and release. If you’re low on FSH and LH, an injection can help you ovulate normally.
The exact dose of FSH that you need depends on your natural levels. You inject the prescribed drug under your skin for about five days. The FSH tells the follicles (i.e. shells) that encase your eggs to grow, ripen, and release.
After five days, we may adjust your dosage. You don’t use FSH for more than 20 days.
Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) injectables include both FSH and LH. While FSH stimulates egg release and ripening, LH gives a growth burst to mature eggs.
The hMG is derived from the urine of postmenopausal women. Your doctor monitors your hormone levels to determine the best time for your hMG injection.
Once you receive an hMG injection, you usually ovulate within the next 36 hours. Your doctor lets you know how to time intercourse to make the most of the egg’s release and journey down your tubes.
If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, or if you’re already interested in ART, find out more about if you’d benefit from ovulation-induction therapy. Contact us today by calling our friendly staff at 949-706-2229. Or, simply book an appointment on our website.