The Pill and IVF

An Oxymoron

The word "planning" as it relates to in vitro fertilization (IVF) might be considered an oxymoron. Women find themselves missing too many days from work, canceling important plans, and finding that everything else must be scheduled around their IVF treatments. However, the newest study, coming from Israel, shows that the pill, the most common form of birth control, can help time the process, making it more convenient for everyone involved.

An academic staff member of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and senior physician at Rabin Medical Center, Dr. Haim Pinkas MD, along with colleagues at his practice at an infertility center, have discovered that treatment with a low dose birth control pill over a two week period can assist in timing an egg harvest for IVF, making life much more convenient for the doctor and his patient.

Pinkas studied 1800 women at the Infertility and IVF Unit at the Helen Schneider Hospital for Women at the Petach Tikva Rabin Medical Center. His results were published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics in January 2008.

With infertility affecting so many women, the IVF clinics are kept bustling. A method such as the one Dr. Pinkas proposes can remove a great deal of stress from the process of IVF both for the doctor and for his patient. As Dr. Pinkas explains it, "One of the main drawbacks in treating infertility is timing a woman's body with the clinic's schedule, so we can get as many mature eggs as possible."

Standard medical procedure is to begin IVF treatment from the time a woman starts her cycle. However, using the pill for 10-14 days from the first day of a woman's period allows for adjustment of the treatment timing without worrying about compromising what Pinkas terms, the "ovarian response to stimulation." This gives the patient and doctor a bit of leeway in finding the most expedient time to perform the egg harvest.

While this was not the first study to focus on the role of the pill in IVF, this is the largest of these studies to date. It is also unique in that the study factors in age, ovarian response, cycle specifics, and live births.

Comfort Level

Pinkas concludes that the use of the pill adds to the comfort level of a woman undergoing a stressful treatment complicated by timing issues. Using the pill helps women continue with their daily lives in a normal fashion.


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