What is stimulation?
This is important to understand as you begin your fertility journey. We feel it is essential that people trying to conceive are fully informed at every stage.
As you may know, within your ovaries there are hundreds and thousands of oocytes (eggs) developing in fluid-filled follicles. During your menstrual cycle, one ‘dominant’ follicle normally grows faster than all the others. Once it reaches 18-28mm in diameter, it releases a mature egg, around mid cycle, and this is called Ovulation. If fertilisation does not take place, you will have a period about 14 days later.
In an IVF cycle, however, we focus on maximising your success by generating several mature eggs. We are careful to avoid the risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) and won’t over-stimulate.
During the stimulation phase, we arrange for you to have your medication injections. For 8-14 days, you will have medication similar to your own hormones to induce your ovaries to produce many eggs.
Everyone is different and the stimulation process can take longer if your follicles are slower to mature. IVF can still be successful even if a very low number of eggs are retrieved. However, success rates are higher when we have more eggs.
The most common hormones in the medication used to stimulate your follicles are Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteal Hormone (LH). Both these hormones are produced naturally in the body. The medication boosts the natural levels encouraging more eggs to develop.
Once the ovarian stimulation process and FSH injections have started, you will have UltraSound Scan monitoring (USS) to observe the follicular growth and the thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium). These scans show the follicles that may contain an egg, but not the actual eggs. Blood tests to monitor your hormones may also be taken.
Please be advised, you will need to be available for regular scans until the follicles reach the optimal size, which is usually after 10 to 16 days. Vaginal scans carry no appreciable risk but may cause slight discomfort, particularly as you near the point of egg collection. Please let the clinic or your Apricity Advisor know if you are allergic to latex.
We may also take blood samples to measure oestradiol levels and sometimes other hormones. These levels are an indicator of the growth and maturation of the eggs, rising as the follicles grow.
These scans and blood tests allow the dose of drugs to be adjusted and optimise the timing of egg collection.
After each Ultrasound scan, your Apricity Advisor will discuss and update you with the progress of your cycle, and let you know of any changes that the medical team have made to your dose or to the preparation of your egg collection. We will advise you at every step so everything is clear. We are happy to discuss anything with you at anytime.
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