Ovulation disorders – when women ovulate infrequently or not at all – are a common cause of infertility.
Ovulation induction is a fertility treatment that uses medications to help your ovaries release an egg, increasing your chances of becoming pregnant.
Ovulation induction can be combined with other infertility treatments to further improve your chance of conception.
How Ovulation Induction Works
Ovulation induction therapy typically takes one to two weeks. While treatment varies based on your needs and preferences, in general the process includes:
- Oral medications. A 5-day course of oral medications such as Clomid or Femara, sometimes referred to as “fertility drugs,” are prescribed to improve your ovulation process. The medications can be used to stimulate your ovaries to produce additional eggs or to trigger your ovaries to start releasing eggs again, if you aren’t ovulating. Medications may also be prescribed to promote maturation of the eggs, prevent early ovulation, and prepare the uterine lining for implantation. Our reproductive endocrinology specialists carefully personalize your treatment to best meet your ovulation needs and optimize your chances of conception.
- Monitoring your cycle. Our specialists will closely monitor your ovaries and egg development using ultrasound imaging and bloodwork, assessing your body’s response to the medications.
- Timed intercourse. Ovulation induction can be combined with timed intercourse to further improve your chances of conception. By monitoring your ovulation, our specialists can advise you on the best days to have intercourse, increasing the possibility of pregnancy.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI) If previous approaches aren’t successful, or if there are concerns about the sperm not being optimal for intercourse, ovulation induction can be combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, to improve delivery of sperm to the egg. Healthy sperm are collected, analyzed and placed inside your uterus two days after ovulation is triggered, increasing your chance of fertilization. Donor sperm can also be used.
Is Ovulation Induction Right for You?
Ovulation induction is often used for:
- Women with irregular ovulation (oligoovulation)
- Women who aren’t ovulating (anovulation)
- Women with cervical factor infertility
- Patients with unexplained infertility
- Men with lower sperm counts or sperm motility issues
- Patients using donor sperm
- Patients seeking a more conservative approach before considering in vitro fertilization
Risks and Side Effects
- Medication side effects. If fertility medication side effects occur, they are usually mild and may include mood changes and hot flashes.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. In rare cases, the ovaries may become swollen and cause pain and bloating, a condition known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Additional symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, rapid weight gain due to the accumulation of fluids, shortness of breath, and decreased urine output. Rest may be all that is required to resolve symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation. In severe cases, drainage of excess fluid may be necessary.
- Multiple gestation. Fertility medications increase the risk of becoming pregnant with multiples from about 3% to 8%. The chance of twins is increased with ovulation induction but the chance of triplets does not increase. The risk of having triplets or more is less than 1%.
Emotional Considerations and Support
Like all infertility treatments, ovulation induction can be stressful and isolating, taking an emotional toll on individuals and relationships. Treatment often involves multiple steps separated by periods of waiting for critical results.
At the Family Fertility Center, we’re helping our patients cope with the stress and anxiety of an infertility diagnosis and treatment through specialized support from professionals at The Women’s Place at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, one of only a handful of programs in the United States dedicated to the care and treatment of women’s reproductive mental health.
For More Information
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- Resolve: The National Infertility Association
- Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART): A Patient's Guide
- Medline Plus: In Vitro Fertilization
- Leading in Fertility – Texas Children’s Hospital Annual Report
- SART Patient Predictor
- Understand Ovulation
We are here to help you achieve a successful pregnancy, even in the most challenging cases. We offer a full range of fertility treatments and services, a state-of-the-art lab, and the latest technologies and techniques to improve your chances of conceiving.
We believe in a conservative approach to treatment that focuses on the least expensive, least invasive techniques first. Our experienced team of specialists and support staff are here to guide and support you every step of the way to help you build your family.