Treating Female Infertility: Ovulation Induction with hCG
If you are having difficulties conceiving a child, it may be due to a problem with your ovulatory cycle. Many women have problems ovulating regularly, due to hormonal imbalances, ovarian complications, or other underlying health complications. This can make pregnancy very difficult to achieve. However, there are a number of different medications available to help induce ovulation in some women. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is often used to help trigger ovulation and could help to increase your chances of pregnancy.
What is hCG?
hCG is a hormone that is typically produced in a pregnant woman's placenta. It helps to maintain the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone and estrogen in order to maintain the first trimester of pregnancy. hCG is taken from the urine of pregnant women and used to induce ovulation in some women. It is often sold under the brand names Profasi and Pregnyl.
How does hCG Work?
hCG works to increase the number of eggs that are released from your follicles every month. It imitates luteinizing hormone (LH), causing your follicles to rupture and release eggs. It often causes your ovaries to release more eggs than normal, thereby increasing your chances of becoming pregnant.
Who Can Benefit from hCG?
Women who are suffering from ovulatory disorders will benefit the most from hCG. You may want to ask your reproductive endocrinologist about hCG if you are suffering from:
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- irregular periods
How Do You Take hCG?
hCG is taken through intramuscular or subcutaneous injection. It is typically given a few days before ovulation would occur. Your reproductive endocrinologist will monitor your follicles and endometrial development through ultrasound. You will then be given an injection of hCG to stimulate ovulation. Dosages for women undergoing ovulation induction are typically between 5,000 and 10,000 units. It takes about 36 hours for hCG to begin to work.
After Taking hCG?
Once your hCG has begun to work, you and your partner will be instructed to have timed intercourse. Alternately, you may choose to undergo IUI procedures.
Success Rates of hCG
hCG is very successful at inducing ovulation. In fact, more than 90% of anovulatory women taking hCG will begin to ovulate. Pregnancy rates are around 15% per cycle. Pregnancy rates increase with the use of IUI.
Side Effects of hCG
hCG is associated with some possible side effects. The most common side effects include:
- water retention
- sore breasts
- abdominal discomfort
It is also important to take into account that hCG can increase your risk of multiple births.
Cost of hCG
hCG tends to be an expensive fertility drug. Ampules cost between $35 and $75 each, and each injection may require upwards of six ampules. Some insurance plans may cover the cost of hCG.