LH and FSH – These compounds are human hormones produced by the pituitary gland (Brand names, Bravelle, Follistim, Menopur) and are used to stimulate ovarian follicular development. These drugs can’t be ingested orally, and are therefore administered by subcutaneous injection.
Injections usually begin on day 3 of the menstrual cycle and continue for several days until the developing follicles are approximately 16 millimeters in diameter. Daily dosage, and the length of time needed for adequate stimulation, varies from patient to patient, and from cycle to cycle. Most patients will receive injections for 7 to 10 days.
During the stimulation with these gonadotropins patients are monitored closely with ultrasounds and estradiol levels.
These compounds are used in women who do not ovulate, or who don’t ovulate or conceive on Clomid, or to produce multiple follicles needed for an ART procedure.
An injection of hCG is given to cause ovulation when ultrasound and estrogen measurements indicate appropriate follicular development. All of these compounds are excreted from the body and will leave no long lasting effects on the menstrual cycle. Remember, these hormones are naturally produced by the pituitary gland, they are chemically the same and they are not synthetic like Clomid. Dosages are adjusted based upon a myriad of factors, including but not limited to the patient’s response to treatment.
Other side effects can include: ovarian cysts, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, irritation at the injection site, and multiple births.
Multiple births occur about 20 to 25% of the time.
Failure to adequately monitor and adjust dosage can lead to a very serious condition, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome(OHSS). This syndrome is characterized by ovarian enlargement, followed by abdominal pain, abdominal distention, weight gain, circulatory problems, sometimes requiring hospitalization. OHSS can be very serious; therefore, once a patient starts a regimen of gonadotropins it is very important that they follow the physician and nurse coordinator’s instructions.