Inducing Ovulation or Superovulation

What is It?

Some women have trouble achieving a pregnancy because their ovaries do not release a mature egg (ovulate) every month. This is the case with roughly 25 percent of infertile women. When women ovulate less often (oligomenorrhea) or not at all (anovulation), it may be necessary to induce ovulation through use of oral (i.e., clomid or fermara) and/or injectable medications (i.e., gonadotropins).

When is It Used?

Women with ovulation issues typically benefit from ovulation induction or superovulation. The goal is to use medications to stimulate the ovaries to ovulate if they don’t regularly and, possibly to release more than one mature egg per cycle.

This increases the odds of pregnancy; and incidentally, a multiple-gestation pregnancy (i.e., twins) since multiple eggs may be released within one cycle. This process is known as superovulation or controlled ovarian stimulation (COS).

Superovulation can be combined with either intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI) as a treatment for infertility when a woman’s fallopian tubes are open, and when in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or genetic testing of embryos is not needed. Controlled ovarian stimulation is an important part of most IVF treatments.

What Do I Need to Know?

Specific medications are used to help a woman to ovulate in order to increase her chances of getting pregnant. These medicines may be used to develop multiple eggs if a woman is undergoing IUI, IVF or when donating or freezing her eggs.

The most commonly prescribed ovulation drugs are Clomid® pills (clomiphene citrate), Femara® pills (letrozole), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) injections (i.e., Follistim® or Gonal-F®), and human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) injections (i.e., Menopur®).

In order to induce superovulation, women will be prescribed a course of treatment involving oral medications and/or injectable medications that can be taken at home over a set period of time, usually 10-14 days.

Information Source: American Society for Reproductive Medicine