Medications Used in Fertility Treatment


As promised, each Thursday, we will now offer you a piece of educational, science, or research related information. The purpose of our #ThursdayThoughts post is to share with you fact-based content that can enlighten and assist you on your fertility journey. Enjoy our post! Helping to Create New Beginnings….

Medications Used in Fertility Treatment

Medications used in fertility treatments enhance or mimic the natural menstrual cycle, and are balanced to provide the best possible results for each patient.

In ovulation induction therapy, oral medications (clomiphene citrate or letrozole) are used to increase production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which in turn induces ovulation of one or more eggs. These medications work by blocking estrogen receptors or lowering estrogen levels, signaling the pituitary gland to produce more FSH. Due to the low or perceived low estrogen levels, some patients experience headaches and hot flashes.

Another way to stimulate the ovaries is through direct injection of FSH. Injectable FSH (Follistim or Gonal-f) is used in both ovulation induction and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. In a natural cycle, a limited amount of FSH is produced by the pituitary, and this usually allows only one egg to fully mature and ovulate. Giving extra FSH overrides this limit and helps more eggs mature. Different women’s bodies respond differently to the hormone, and varying amounts may be needed for the same result in different patients.

HMG, or Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (Menopur), is another medication that helps eggs mature and grow. This is a combination of FSH and Leutinizing Hormone (LH), another hormone that supports egg growth. In some cases, HMG is used to stimulate the ovaries and improve response in ovulation induction as well as IVF cycles.

Estrogen and progesterone are used at several points during an IVF cycle. Prior to ovarian stimulation, estrogen can be used to quiet follicular activity and synchronize egg maturation.  During a frozen embryo transfer, taking estrogen helps thicken the lining of the uterus to prepare for implantation. A few days before embryo transfer, progesterone is started, causing changes in the blood vessels and tissues of the uterus and creating the optimal environment for an embryo.  Progesterone is also continued during the first few weeks of pregnancy to help support the development of an early pregnancy. After this period of time, the placenta takes over the production of progesterone, and hormone supplementation is no longer needed.

For more information regarding medications that can be used to optimize fertility, please call 808-545-2800 to schedule a consultation with a physician at the Fertility Institute of Hawaii, or visit our website at


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