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What is ovarian stimulation?

Treatment profile

If you have been considering IVF treatment, or have been recommended the same by your fertility expert, you might have come across some complex medical terms you did not quite understand. While the terms might sound quite unnerving, it is important that you understand what happens at each stage of the treatment. In this blog, we will consider the first stage, that is, ovarian stimulation.

In order to better understand the ovarian stimulation stage, you should know how ovulation occurs in women.

When it is used

Ovarian stimulation is generally used:

  1. To induce ovulation in patients with ovulatory dysfunction to help them conceive.
  2. For egg retrieval in IVF treatments.
  3. To store oocytes (eggs) for future use.

How it works

In a natural ovulatory cycle, natural hormonal changes dictate the maturation and release of the egg. In some women, however, this does not occur naturally and so medications are given to the patient in order to stimulate the ovarian function. This makes it possible to schedule each hormonal change, thus optimizing the quality of the oocytes that are released.

Stages of IVF treatment

  1. Ovarian stimulation
  2. Oocyte retrieval
  3. Insemination/ ICSI
  4. Embryo transfer

There are two types of ovarian stimulation: the long protocol and the antagonist protocol. The process of ovarian stimulation is generally started a week before the expected date of the next menstrual period in the long protocol. In the antagonist protocol, stimulation is started from the second day of the menstrual cycle. Several hormones are administered so that several matured oocytes can be retrieved at a single egg retrieval procedure.

Ovarian stimulation is achieved by gonadotropins injections that contain follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These stimulate the growth of multiple follicles in the ovaries. FSH injections are given for about 10 days before the patient is ready for the oocyte retrieval.

The patient is closely monitored with the help of an ultrasound, during the ovarian stimulation stage. The number of follicles present is counted and their size is measured. If sufficient follicles over 17-18 mm in diameter are found, the egg retrieval process is scheduled. A final HCG injection is given to promote the final maturation of the eggs.

To learn more about the ovarian stimulation and its possible side effects, visit a fertility expert. Share your valuable thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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