24 Feb The Use of Birth Control Pills During Fertility Treatments
Taking birth control pills to enhance fertility seems like a direct contradiction. Most patients pursuing fertility treatments went off the pill long ago and are doing everything they can to encourage conception.
Oddly enough, however, the birth control pill can play an important role in timing fertility treatments accurately.
You May Have to Take the Pill To Get Pregnant
While it’s true that birth control pills prevent pregnancy, it’s also true that they regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle. This becomes really important when we want to sync your fertility treatments for optimal success.
The pill prevents ovulation
The proportion or balance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone are largely responsible for ovulation. Taking the birth control pill prevents ovulation, which means more eggs remaining in follicles waiting to be stimulated when the timing is right.
In a healthy and unmedicated ovulation cycle, multiple follicles start to mature but one of them matures more rapidly than the others. This is the follicle that releases the egg. Taking the pill prevents these follicles from maturing and that makes them more likely to mature at the same rate when you’re ready to stimulate the ovaries using Clomid or injectable IVF medications.
Birth control pills can minimize the development of cysts
If you are prone to developing ovarian cysts, which can prevent ovulation as well by blocking the egg’s journey through the fallopian tube, your doctor may also recommend remaining on the pill until you are ready to stimulate the ovaries. The fewer or smaller cysts you have the more likely the egg(s) are to make their way out of the follicle and down the fallopian tube.
Timing retrieval for optimal outcomes
Egg retrievals are a multi-layered event. As a fertility center, it’s our obligation to optimize successful outcomes for each and every patient. That means spacing retrievals and storage methods to:
- Sync with our patients’ desired schedules (or existing timed, cycles)
- Staff appropriately from the office and retrieval rooms to the number of embryologists in the lab
- Make sure your schedule works with your doctors’ schedule – so your retrieval day doesn’t wind up falling on a day where your fertility specialist is at a conference or taking his/her vacation
- Balance the number of times the incubators are opened in a single day to maintain a controlled environment
Your chances of IVF success go up when we do everything we can, at every stage of the treatment process, to support healthy outcomes.
Before stimulating ovaries for IVF
While there are cases where your doctor may recommend syncing your cycle before IUI. However, in most cases, you’ll take the pill before “hyperstimulation” your ovaries for IVF. This requires the use of injectable fertility medications.
Unlike Clomid, where the goal is to release between one and three eggs (before timing intercourse at home or IUI) to minimize the risk of a multiples pregnancy, injectable medications are used to hyperstimulate the ovaries, with a goal of retrieving 15 to 25 eggs if possible. The more healthy eggs we have to fertilize, the better chances you’ll have of conceiving a baby from IVF without having to go through the egg retrieval process all over again.
So, as we mentioned above, the pill helps to equalize the status of the immature follicles so they mature at the same rate, along with timing your retrieval for the date that works best for you and your fertility center.
Your fertility specialist will let you know if using birth control pills during fertility treatments makes sense in your situation. We’ll prescribe the pills for you (no need to hang on to your old prescriptions) because we only use a specific type of birth control medication (a monophasic type which contains the same amount of hormones in every active pill) for this purpose.
Have fertility questions? Or, are you ready to get some answers about why you’re not getting pregnant? Schedule a consultation with Virginia Fertility & IVF.