Ovarian stimulation: a boost to being pregnant

You want a baby ... but it's slow to come. The gynecologist may suggest ovarian stimulation, thumbs to stimulate ovulation and improve the quality and quantity of oocytes.

You have had medical exams, so the gynecologist offers you a first step: ovarian stimulation. There, you imagine a nurse or a nurse who comes regularly to see you to "fiddle" with the belly and massage the ovaries ... This is not quite that! What is ovarian stimulation? How's it going ? Why ovarian stimulation? ... Many questions jostle in your head. But do not panic, here are all the answers to your questions.

What is ovarian stimulation?

  • Ovarian stimulation is a very common medical practice in gynecology, which will help a woman to produce eggs in a normal way or to trigger ovulation. This is a thumbs up for women with ovulation disorders in order to improve the quality and quantity of oocytes. It is usually associated with artificial insemination or is performed in the context of in vitro fertilization in case of infertility.
  • Ovarian stimulation involves taking medication (tablets or injection) taking into account the menstrual cycle. This then requires regular follow-ups, such as hormonal assays and ultrasound, in order to follow the evolution of the follicles, to detect the possible side effects of drugs (including multiple pregnancy), to check the effectiveness of drugs. The pace of intercourse is also programmed.
  • Depending on the results of the examinations and analyzes carried out, if ovulation disorders are the only causes of infertility in a couple, ovarian stimulation is sometimes enough to boost the ovaries and help conceive a baby in a natural way
  • In other words, ovarian stimulation increases the number of follicles, so increases the chances of getting pregnant.

Why should the ovaries be stimulated?

  • Ovulation is a normal and physiological period, long awaited for women who want to have a baby. It is a period in the middle of the menstrual cycle, corresponding to the release of a mature oocyte at the level of the ovary. And we all know, the menstrual cycle is a normal phenomenon, all stages of which are well regulated each month.
  • From the production of the follicle to the maturation and release of the oocyte, the steps take place under the influence of several sex hormones, which are themselves regulated by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus of the brain. The process is therefore more complex than we think, and the slightest worry, everything is out of order.
  • When this is not normal, there is a disorder or abnormality in the stages of ovulation. Either ovulation is absent, or it is irregular with an irregular cycle. In the case of polycystic ovaries, the ovaries do not function properly, which could lead to immature oocytes. Ovarian stimulation is prescribed by the doctor to precisely regulate the process of ovulation at all levels and reproduce this normal physiological phenomenon in order to have a mature follicle and an oocyte. Because without oocyte, no pregnancy ...
  • In the context of an in vitro fertilization or an artificial insemination, the doctors want to obtain several oocytes (about ten) to succeed fertilization. In this case, well controlled ovarian stimulation is also recommended.
  • Today, more and more women over the age of 38, whose hormone levels are low, consult and wish to become pregnant through ovarian stimulation. But also, extremely sporty women, whose very intense physical activity could impact the menstrual cycle.

How does ovarian stimulation work?

  • Before being subjected to ovarian stimulation, you have to run a series of tests and analyzes, starting with a clinical examination, blood tests (with the dosage of the different hormones such as FSH, LH and estradiol), an ultrasound, but also a spermogram in the future dad.
  • The doctor will also tell you to take the temperature every morning for three months to find the exact date of ovulation because the ovarian stimulation takes into account the menstrual cycle.
  • Ovarian stimulation involves administering hormone-based medicines prescribed by a fertility doctor. The administration protocols vary depending on the type of medication and the routes of administration. In the case of oral medications, the dose is taken from the 2nd day of the cycle and for 5 to 7 days.
  • Injections can be performed intramuscularly or subcutaneously. The patient is led to learn the gestures herself to practice the injections.
  • Whatever the form of the drugs, do not hesitate to ask questions of your doctor in case of doubt or misunderstanding. It is possible that several drugs are associated, or that the doctor prescribes a new drug or adjusts the treatment according to or in case of failure of the previous one.

How long does ovarian stimulation last?

  • The duration of the treatment remains very variable and will be according to the causes of the infertility, a history of the woman, her age, or her state of health. However, in practice, gynecologists note that a treatment lasts on average 3 months before obtaining a result towards the 4th month. In some women, ovarian stimulation can last from 3 months to 6 months, but usually does not exceed 12 months (12 cycles).
  • In some cases, doctors let the ovaries rest and recommend treatment on every other cycle.

What are the side effects of ovarian stimulation?

  • When ovarian stimulation is more "exaggerated", it is possible that the ovaries also respond more excessively with the production of an excess of follicles. We are talking about ovarian hyperstimulation.
  • Some symptoms may occur in case of ovarian hyperstimulation. These include nausea or even vomiting, abdominal bloating and risk of phlebitis. However, we reassure you already, the doctors perfectly master all its undesirable effects
  • The risk of multiple pregnancy is increased; this is why ultrasound controls are very regular and strict.
  • Injections of gonadotropins can lead to mood disturbances or weight gain.

Are there any contraindications to ovarian stimulation?

  • Ovarian stimulation is not indicated for women with a history of cancer, bleeding disorders, or a history of stroke.

5 specialist tips

  • If you feel unwell or have abnormal signs, do not hesitate to call your doctor.
  • Ovarian stimulation is a very common method used in gynecology; it is mainly practiced by doctors gynecologists specializing in fertility. The success rate is estimated at 90%. This rate is however dependent on the age of the mother. For women over 38, this rate tends to decrease. A tip: do not wait too long to get pregnant!
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation is one of the most feared side effects, but also the most rigorously followed with repeated hormonal assays. Today, these risks are well under control.
  • There is also talk of high risk of cancer. Indeed, as long as you touch estrogen, you obviously expect an increase in the risk of hormone-dependent cancers. This justifies then the duration of the treatment which should not be carried out over more than 12 cycles or 12 months.
  • Ovarian stimulation is sometimes a frustrating and constraining step within the couple. Sex is programmed and sometimes considered a duty to the point of unbalancing the couple. Doubt? Stress? Frustration? Chat, talk, communicate. Let one know what the other feels!