Ovarian stimulation

The next step in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process is stimulating the ovaries by taking daily injections of hormones. These hormones are regularly produced in your body, however the injections you will be taking contain a higher dose than what would naturally occur. This allows multiple eggs to mature in the ovary, which increases the chance for pregnancy.

Fertility drugs commonly given in this program include:

  • Leuprolide
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (hMG)
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
  • Antagon
  • Progesterone in oil
  • Estradiol tablets

Sometimes, we precede the stimulation cycle with birth control pills, depending on your IVF cycle protocol. Your physician will determine which protocol is best for you and detailed information will be reviewed with you.

During your IVF cycle, we track the development of eggs inside ovarian follicles by tracking your blood hormone levels and performing ultrasounds. Typically, you will need to be seen approximately three to four times during the course of this stimulation to track progress.

Potential complications during ovarian stimulation

A cycle may be cancelled if the ovaries are not responding optimally. The rate of cycle cancellation is approximately 5 to 10 percent and is age-dependent with older patients being cancelled more often.

Another possible complication during the stimulation process is called ovarian hyperstimulation. Ovarian hyperstimulation is a condition that develops when the ovaries become very enlarged and tender due to the stimulation medications used.

Ovarian hyperstimulation can lead to development of pelvic pain and the accumulation of pelvic fluid, which sometimes requires bed rest or hospitalization. We will choose both stimulation protocols and drug doses to try to minimize this complication, which now occurs in less than 5 percent of cycles.

Last reviewed: 
February 2018

Interested in using our health content?