A look at fertility drugs for egg freezing
Women often come to our Austin egg freezing experts with questions about fertility drugs for egg freezing. Our physicians use three groups of medications in egg freezing cycles, including the stimulation medications (gonadotropins), the medications that prevent premature ovulation and the drugs that cause the eggs to mature. Each medication plays an important role in in the egg freezing process.
Fertility drugs for egg freezing that promote ovarian stimulation
For ovarian stimulation, our Austin egg freezing specialists typically use Gonal F®, Follistim® and/or Menopur®. These fertility drugs for egg freezing may be used individually or together, depending on a patient’s needs.
The patient will self-inject these fertility drugs on a daily basis for 10-14 days. During this time, the medications cause the egg-containing follicles in the ovaries to grow, typically 1-2 mm in diameter each day during the stimulation process. As these follicles grow, the egg inside starts to mature.
Fertility drugs for egg freezing that prevent premature ovulation
In both natural and stimulated cycles, growing follicles make estrogen. A sustained-high estrogen level is how the ovary tells the brain that the egg inside the largest follicle is mature. In response, the brain tells the pituitary gland to secrete a large amount of luteinizing hormone (LH). This “LH surge” is the trigger that causes ovulation to occur.
While this is necessary in a natural cycle, an LH surge in a stimulated cycle is a bad thing, as it means that the eggs may start to ovulate before the egg retrieval. Therefore, we typically give patients undergoing IVF stimulation a separate medication to block the LH surge from occurring. Two classes of fertility drugs prevent premature ovulation. These drugs include GnRH-agonists and GnRH antagonists.
The GnRH-agonist that our Austin egg freezing experts often use is leuprolide acetate, or Lupron®. The patient receives the injection on a daily basis, starting a few days before the beginning of her stimulation cycle and continuing until the lead follicle size measures 18-22 mm.
Cetrotide® and Ganirelix® are the primary fertility drugs in the GnRH antagonist category. Patients usually start to receive these when the largest follicle measures 12-15mm in diameter to prevent premature ovulation.
Fertility drugs for egg maturation
A sperm cannot fertilize an egg unless the egg is mature. In a natural cycle, eggs mature when the brain releases a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH).
This hormone is very difficult to administer in a dose that would cause egg maturation. As a result, our Austin egg freezing experts use either hCG or leuprolide acetate to cause final egg maturation. The structure of hCG is so similar to LH that it can easily bind to the LH receptors and cause the eggs to mature. Leuprolide acetate, despite usually being used to prevent ovulation, can also stimulate egg maturity.
Contact us to schedule an appointment with our Austin egg freezing experts and learn more about the egg freezing process.