The Relationship Between Birth Control And IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure that falls under the category of assisted reproductive technology (ART). The process follows a woman’s natural menstrual cycle and often relies on taking specific medications to boost ovulation at key times. While hallmark moments of IVF include egg retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer, the entire process must be carefully timed for optimal results. And sometimes, a fertility specialist may recommend that a woman temporarily take birth control.
Creating a baseline
As mentioned previously, IVF is a procedure that’s performed in what is known as cycles. The cycles usually follow a woman’s menstrual cycle. But depending on where within a menstrual cycle a woman or couple seeks fertility treatment, a woman might not be currently ovulating. While ovulation is important, the goal of IVF is also to produce as many viable follicles or eggs as possible in a cycle.
Birth control can boost success rates
For couples that conceive naturally, in most cases only one egg is released during ovulation. That egg then joins with a sperm to form a fertilized zygote which later matures into an embryo. But with IVF, the goal is to boost follicle stimulation through hormonal supplements. For best results, all of the follicles should be stimulated simultaneously so that all eggs retrieved during the cycle are viable candidates for successful fertilization. For this reason, many fertility specialists will prescribe birth control before beginning an IVF cycle. Birth control can work to prevent ovulation, which ensures that there is no lead follicle which could reduce the total number of viable follicles or eggs retrieved in a cycle.
Better control of the process
Along with controlling ovulation and boosting success rates for individual couples, prescribing birth control also allows for fertility treatment centers to provide more consistent support to women and couples. By taking birth control and creating that baseline, a woman’s ovulatory cycle becomes more predictable. As a result, the clinic can schedule procedures like retrievals in a way that offers maximum efficacy and minimal disruption for all patients.
Birth control minimizes adverse effects from medications
Women often bear the brunt of infertility treatments, needing to take medications that boost ovulation and enduring unintended side effects. A common concern with fertility medications is that a woman may develop ovarian cysts. Even when harmless, cysts must be treated. Even common procedures like having cysts drained can create delays during an IVF cycle. But birth control can often reduce the risk of developing cysts, ensuring that a cycle progresses as intended.
Get the facts beforehand
Fertility can be a touchy subject, especially for women and couples who have been trying for some time to get pregnant without success. However, IVF is one of the most effective methods for successfully conceiving and ultimately continuing through to a healthy pregnancy and delivering a baby. Before beginning IVF or any fertility treatment, women and couples should speak with a fertility specialist to understand the process, any potential risks, and all medications that might need to be prescribed.