Fertility Medications: Common Questions Answered
The use of drugs to trigger the development and release of an egg or eggs from the follicles in the ovaries is called ovulation induction, and is a process with which more and more couples are finding sucess.
What are Fertility Medications?
In general, fertility medications improve or replace otherwise naturally occurring hormones. The two primary hormones that control the reproductive cycle in both men and women are follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). They are both made by the pituitary gland, a small endocrine gland located directly below the brain. Additionally, there is also a hormone used for intrauterine insemination (IUI) called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which functions similarly to natural LH to induce release of the egg (ovulation).
When are Fertility Medications Used?
Fertility medications are most often used in conjunction with other treatments such as IUI or in vitro fertilization (IVF). When prescribed correctly and monitored carefully, fertility medications allow women to safely produce multiple eggs during a single cycle. Production of more than one egg increases the chance for a successful cycle by increasing the odds of healthy fertilization and implantation.
What is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)?
An IUI is a procedure in which sperm that has been washed and prepared is inserted using a catheter through the cervix and into the woman’s uterus. This procedure allows the sperm to pass directly into the fallopian tubes where fertilization normally occurs.
Performed at the time of ovulation, IUI increases the likelihood of fertilization and pregnancy. It can take place with or without the aid of fertility medication. It is recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with:
- Abnormal or inhospitable cervical mucus
- Unexplained infertility
- Male factor infertility
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