Ovulation Induction

Approximately 25% of infertile women have problems with ovulation. These include the inability to produce fully matured eggs or failure to “ovulate” (release) an egg. The inability to produce and/or release eggs is called anovulation. Fertility specialists use a group of medications, often called “fertility drugs,” to temporarily correct ovulatory problems and increase a woman’s chance for pregnancy. Fertility drugs may be used to correct other fertility problems such as improving the lining of the uterus (endometrium) in addition to inducing ovulation. In certain circumstances, these medications also may be used to stimulate the development of multiple eggs, such as in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle.
Ovulation induction with fertility drugs is also commonly used in patients without ovulatory dysfunction to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one mature follicle per cycle, leading to the release of multiple eggs. This controlled ovarian stimulation (COS), or superovulation, may be accomplished with either oral or injectable fertility medications. Superovulation, combined with either intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI), is an empiric strategy for the treatment of several forms of infertility. The intent is to develop several mature eggs in hopes that at least one egg will be fertilized and result in pregnancy. Controlled ovarian stimulation is also an important component of IVF treatment. Prior to ovulation induction with fertility drugs, it is recommended that a patient’s fallopian tube patency be confirmed by hysterosalpingogram (injection of a dye into the fallopian tubes) or laparoscopy. Patients with blocked fallopian tubes will not become pregnant with fertility drugs and should not undergo ovulation induction unless the purpose of the ovulation induction is to stimulate the ovaries in preparation for IVF. Also the male partner should have a semen analysis to help guide whether ovulation induction should be combined with intercourse, IUI, or IVF