What is stimulated IVF?
With egg freezing, the goal is to acquire as many eggs as possible for future use. The same goes for IVF. Fertility is not perfect, and some eggs may not be viable for pregnancy. Since the ovaries produce just one or two mature eggs during ovulation, a stimulated cycle helps with retrieving additional eggs. A stimulated cycle uses a regimen of hormone medication to encourage the ovaries to produce more eggs. The doctor will then extract these eggs, freezing the unused amount.
What to expect from ovary stimulation
This part is often the second stage in IVF or egg freezing. The stimulated cycle starts with detailed fertility testing to ensure that the woman has a healthy reproductive system. Once everything checks out, the doctor will prescribe 2 hormones, namely FSH and LH. Over 8-14 days, the hopeful mother injects these hormones close to the ovaries. Both FSH and LH help the ovaries produce more eggs and cause ovulation. From there, the doctor extracts about 10 follicles using a small catheter.
Stimulated cycle vs natural cycle
Technically, a stimulated cycle for IVF to extract eggs is not necessary. With egg freezing, however, the process is needed to acquire as many follicles as possible. Some women may opt for a drug-free, natural cycle. In this case, the clinic times the woman’s ovulation and extracts a single mature egg for IVF. Going this route means little to no fertility medication, reducing the costs and complications of stimulation.
Pros and cons of a stimulated cycle
Stimulating the ovaries significantly improves the chances of a mature, healthy egg and freezing for future pregnancy cycles. The process also increases the chances of pregnancy, specifically for women struggling with fertility. Stimulated cycles allow clinics to perform techniques like preimplantation genetic testing and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). For instance, PGT helps to seek out genetic conditions affecting pregnancy. On the other hand, there are some medical risks, like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. And compared to a natural cycle, there is a significant difference in cost and pain.
Is a stimulated cycle right for you?
Whether egg freezing or IVF, the fact remains that the more eggs available, the higher the chances of pregnancy. With this in mind, the doctor and patient will discuss a stimulated cycle. The hormones maximize the available eggs for present or future use. There are several emotional, financial, and time factors to consider. However, stimulated cycles are generally safe. Furthermore, stimulated cycles can reduce the risk of failed pregnancies. Speak with a fertility specialist or clinic to learn more about the pros and cons of a stimulated cycle.