IVF med protocols: Are all these drugs necessary?
It's important to us that each carrier fully understand not only the what's, but the why's of this entire process. Being knowledgeable about the IVF protocol, what we do to prepare our body, and why we do it makes us feel empowered, in charge of our bodies, and less likely to make mistakes.
One of the first hang ups that potential gestational carriers have is the fact that often times, daily shots are involved. Why do we need to do this? We have had perfect pregnancies before. Can't we just let our bodies do that again? The truth is, IVF is its own beast. When we get pregnant through IVF, nothing is natural. We are trying to get our bodies to accept an embryo made from an egg that did not come from our body. So in essence, we need to "trick" our bodies into receiving the embryo and have the hormonal levels correct to not reject the pregnancy.
There are many different med protocols that the Reproductive Endocrinologist will use. Each one will tend to stick to a protocol that gives their patients the most success. This can range from oral medications only, to suppositories, to injections.
There are basically three stages to this process. We need to first shut our bodies down. Start fresh so to speak. This can be done with birth control alone or with the aid of Lupron which are tiny shots in the belly. Once the lining is thin and ovaries are quiet, it's time to start building up the lining to accept the embryo. This is done in the second step with Estrogen. Estrogen comes in the form of shots, patches, or pills. This is taken for about 3 weeks prior to transfer and lasts until 10-12 weeks pregnant. The third stage is adding in Progesterone. This again, comes in many different forms, but the most common are daily injections. This starts about 5 days before transfer and also continues until 10-12 weeks pregnant.
Now, why is it, that after pregnancy is confirmed, we still need to take the medication? Well, when we get pregnant on our own, ovulation occurs. When this happens, the corpus luteum produces progesterone. This progesterone is what sustains the pregnancy until the placenta takes over which does not occur until 10-12 weeks pregnant. In an IVF manipulated cycle, no ovulation occurs. Therefore, we need to provide the progesterone from an outside source until that placenta is ready to take over.
It's pretty amazing what we are able to do outside of nature with these medications. But it is extremely important that each step is followed precisely as we need to make sure that embryo is nurtured and accepted 100% by our bodies. It's also important that if we have questions about different medications, that we ask! It's okay to know what we are putting into our bodies and why. Knowledge is power. And being fully informed allows gestational carriers to take on this responsibility whole-heartedly to give the embryo the best chance possible at sticking around for the next 9 months.