Ovulation induction is the process of stimulating the ovary to produce one or more eggs, which can be desirable in a number of clinical situations. There are a variety of medications, which we will discuss, capable of achieving this end. Following, we will discuss how the ovary functions, how certain medications work to stimulate the ovary and induce ovulation, as well as mention success rates and potential side effects.
Females receive their lifetime allotment of eggs very early in their development – prior to their birth, in fact, with an average of seven million eggs being formed. These eggs are in a very immature state, incapable of being ovulated or fertilized as they rest deep in the tissue of the ovaries until puberty is reached. Now seven million eggs may seem like an ever-abundant supply, but most of these initial eggs will be reabsorbed by the body before ever maturing. In fact, this number is already reduced to a million eggs at the time of birth and down to about three hundred thousand by the time puberty is reached. Well, three hundred thousand is nothing to scoff at – that should be more than enough, right? You’d think so, but the female body wastes eggs at an alarming rate.
Here’s how: A typical woman will ovulate approximately 400 times in her life. Now, if the ovary could release just one egg per cycle from its resting state each month, a woman would have to live many thousands of years to use up all of her eggs. Each month, however, several dozen to several hundred of these immature eggs leave their resting state and resume growth, with usually only a single egg fully maturing and able to ovulate. The remaining eggs that had resumed growth are reabsorbed by the body.