The Super Cycle
There are many different drug regimens and schedules available for IVF patients. Here is an example of one common one:
Preparation for an IVF cycle starts nearly a month prior to the actual cycle. Although it may seem strange, a woman about to undergo IVF is given birth control pills to regulate and reset her cycle.
Twelve to 21 days after starting to take birth control pills, the woman undergoing IVF adds another drug, often Lupron (given by injection), to suppress her body’s own ovulation. These daily Lupron injections will go on for about three weeks.
This is like the follicular phase of a regular cycle, but “souped up.” A week or two after the Lupron injections, the woman adds gonadotropins (hormones that stimulate the ovaries, such as luteinizing hormone and/or follicle stimulating hormone) to her routine. These will cause multiple eggs to mature.
A little more than a week later, the woman will receive an hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone injection to cause the mature eggs to be released.
Thirty-six hours after the hCG shot, a physician will “harvest” the eggs, which will then be combined with sperm in the laboratory. Still more hormones: The woman begins taking estradiol and progesterone to help her body prepare for implantation.
This phase occurs during what would be the luteal phase in a normal cycle. A few days after the eggs have been retrieved and fertilized, one or more of the resulting embryos will be transferred into the woman’s uterus. If implantation is successful, the woman will become pregnant.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2006 issue of Conceive Magazine.