Fertility drugs, when you think about it, essentially kickstart the egg freezing process. They are responsible for stimulating egg production in the ovaries.
During normal monthly ovulation, your ovaries typically release one egg, while the remaining eggs that had naturally matured in the ovaries are reabsorbed into the body. Now just one egg a cycle isn’t going to cut it when it comes to egg freezing; you want to freeze as many eggs as possible. That's where fertility drugs come in.
Your fertility doctor will prescribe a number of medications to prepare not only your ovaries, but also your body for egg retrieval. They will first assess your case to determine the type of medication needed, the dosage and the length of time medication will need to be administered. Some women may require a minimal amount of hormones to stimulate their ovaries, while others may require a significantly higher amount of medication, all of which will add to your egg freezing costs.
The following medications are commonly prescribed:
- Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Agonists prevent the midcycle hormonal surge of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and estrogen by inhibiting pituitary hormone secretion. Continuous administration will decrease the hormones to postmenopausal levels. Examples of this class of drug include Lupron (leuprolide acetate), Synarel and Zoladex. These medications are commonly injected or taken by nasal spray.
- Antagonists antagonize GnRH to prevent premature ovulation and enhance ovulation inducing medications. Examples of this class of medication include Ganirelix, Antagon and Cetrotide. These medications are taken by injection.
- Gonadotropins are hormones used to stimulate follicles containing eggs during the stimulation phase of the cycle. Made synthetically or from the urine of postmenopausal women. Examples of this class of medication include Follistim, Gonal-F, Repronex and Bravelle. These medications are taken by injection.
- hCG is a hormone used to trigger final maturation of the egg inside a follicle. This medication is taken by injection.
- r-hCG is a recombinant version of hCG. Hormone used to trigger the final maturation of the egg inside a follicle. This medication is taken by injection.
- Doxycycline is an antibiotic given during stimulation to reduce low levels of bacteria in the reproductive tract. This medication is taken orally.
Side effects of these drugs are minimal. When experienced they typically include abdominal discomfort, bloating, and weight gain, as well as irritability and are present a few days before retrieval when stimulation drugs are at their highest doses