November 27, 2023
4 Minutes

A Guide to Ovarian Stimulation Protocols

A Guide to Ovarian Stimulation Protocols
Written by
Dr Zoe Miller
Medical Editor and Doctor at NHS
Amilis makes fertility digestible, accessible, and affordable to help you take charge of your reproductive health and live on your own timeline.

In an eggshell...

  • Ovarian stimulation involves taking hormone medication in a variety of ways.
  • Medication is usually taken for 10-14 days.
  • The process can be stressful and emotional.
  • There is a risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation.

What To Expect

Before Ovarian Stimulation

At this point, you’ll have already had some tests done by the clinic, including your hormone levels. Your stimulation protocol will be personalised to make it most likely to work for you.

You may be prescribed a contraceptive pill or another medication to stop your normal menstrual cycle before starting stimulation.1

As you might not know what to expect, you might feel anxious or worried.

During Ovarian Stimulation2

You’ll be taking either the long or short protocol. The long protocol is more common, and usually takes around 4 weeks. The short protocol is for women more likely to get ovarian hyper-stimulation.2

It’s important to recognise the symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation, which can happen during the stimulation process. Read more about this in our other blog here.

Serious symptoms like dehydration, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, and vomiting happen in up to 2% of women.3 Ovarian hyperstimulation can be serious: seek medical help immediately.

At around day 21 of your cycle, you’ll start taking medication to reduce your natural hormones and prevent ovulation. This is usually injected at night for up to 2 weeks.

After around 14 days, you’ll start injecting medication to mature your eggs. This will take around 12 days. During this time, you’ll have a scan to check your eggs are maturing properly. If they look good, you’ll inject the medication that triggers ovulation.

Common Medication Used During Stimulation4

Stopping Your Menstrual Cycle

Drugs like Supracur/Buserelin mimic naturally occurring hormones. They are injected under the skin and work to stop ovulation and menstruation.

Ovary Stimulation

Menopur and Merional are injected under the skin or into the muscle to help your eggs to mature. They are artificial versions of the hormones FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone) that naturally mature your eggs before ovulation.

Triggering Ovulation

Artificial hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) like Gonasi, Pregnyl, or Ovitrelle are used to trigger ovulation. One type is injected after a scan shows a good number of viable eggs in your ovaries.

This isn’t all the medications used during egg stimulation, but helps give you an idea of some of the most common ones. Other medication is used for women with fertility issues, older women, and women failing to respond to treatment.

Tips To Help with Stimulation Injections

Injections are usually self-administered. Before and after the injections, it’s normal for women to experience a range of emotions, including anxiety and nervousness.

Here are some techniques that can help:

  1. Deep breathing exercises: Practice deep breathing techniques to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  2. Meditation or mindfulness: Engage in meditation or mindfulness practices to help calm the mind and reduce stress.
  3. Gentle exercise: Engage in light physical activity such as walking or yoga to release endorphins and promote relaxation.
  4. Support system: Seek support from friends, family, or support groups who can provide emotional support during this time.
  5. Distraction techniques: Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or watching a movie, to take your mind off the injections.

The process can be stressful and emotionally draining. But for many women, increasing the chances for starting a family later in life makes it worth it. Many clinics offer emotional support to help throughout the process. Contact our partner clinics for more information.

Written by
Dr Zoe Miller
Medical Editor and Doctor at NHS