Step Two: Ovarian Stimulation
In a normal ovulation cycle, one egg matures per month. In an IVF cycle, the goal is to have several eggs mature, as this will increase your chances of success with treatment. In the ovarian stimulation phase of the IVF cycle, injectable medications are used for approximately 8 to 14 days to stimulate follicular development.
Ovarian stimulation medications are derivatives from the hormones follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which are the body’s hormones involved in the natural ovulation process. Your protocol may recommend taking one or more of these hormone medications.
Monitoring Ovarian Stimulation
During the ovarian stimulation phase, you will come into the office approximately seven to eight times for morning monitoring appointments. Monitoring appointments consists of:
- The ultrasound measures the growth of each follicle (that contain an egg) and the thickness of the uterine lining, both of which should be increasing as you take the injectable medications.
- Blood is drawn and tested to measure the estrogen level. The levels of estrogen in the blood are another indicator of the growth and maturation of the eggs—rising as the follicles grow.
After each monitoring appointment, you will receive a phone call from your nurse, usually in the afternoon. It is extremely useful to be available to speak with the nurse when she calls to make sure you receive any important instructions and clarify any aspects of your care. During the update your nurse will explain to you the progress of your cycle, any medication modifications, and when you should return for the next monitoring appointment. This is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions about your cycle, test results, and discuss any side effects you may be experiencing.