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Published: Sept. 26, 2008
Updated: Sept. 8, 2010
The term gonadotropin refers to compounds that directly stimulate the ovaries. These medications are generally combinations of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) or pure FSH.
Since these are the hormones the pituitary uses to stimulate follicular growth, the ovarian response is often very dramatic. The hypothalamus and pituitary are unable to "shut off" this stimulation so these injections act as a constant stimulant to the follicles.
There is significant concern for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) using gonadotropins. These medications should be used only as directed by your physician.
Unfortunately, not everyone will have an adequate response to their dose of gonadotropins. When starting your first cycle, the dose is estimated taking into account several factors (age, ovulatory status, polycystic ovaries).
Your dose will be adjusted based on your response to these medications. In some women with advancing age or premature failure of the ovaries, there is a possibility of these medications not being able to stimulate any significant response.
Regular evaluation of serum estradiol is performed to monitor response and to help avoid ovarian hyperstimulation. These values will be reviewed on the day the test is done. Your dose may be increased or decreased depending on this lab value. It is important that we have your correct contact information so we can reach you if any adjustments are necessary.
Gonadotropins may be used in conjunction with Lupron. The Lupron acts to prevent a spontaneous signal from the pituitary that triggers ovulation (LH surge).
Ovulation is almost always triggered by human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). HCG mimics the LH surge and thereby induces ovulation. The advantage of using HCG is to coordinate insemination or retrieval in a more timely fashion.
Currently, we do not have a preference for which gonadotropins you use except in select medical conditions. Patients with hypothalamic amenorrhea should use a compound containing LH (Humegon, Pergonal, Repronex). There are many other factors that may influence your decision:
The following table compares the commonly available gonadotropins.
||Method of Injection
Learn more about fertility medications below.