Ovulation induction uses hormonal therapy to stimulate egg development and release, or ovulation. These drugs are designed to induce ovulation in women who do not ovulate on their own — typically women with irregular menstrual cycles. The goal is to produce a single, healthy egg.
The second use of ovulation induction is to increase the number of eggs reaching maturity in a single cycle, to increase chances for conception.
More recently, in the mid-90s, evidence developed to suggest there may be an advantage to treating even ovulatory women with fertility medications. These women with “unexplained infertility” may have subtle defects in ovulation, and medications may induce two to three eggs to mature, versus only one. This treatment therefore improves the quality and quantity of the ovulation, thus enhancing pregnancy rates.
In ovulatory women, ovulation induction may be combined with intrauterine insemination. Ovulation induction should progress only after a complete and thorough evaluation. All underlying hormonal disorders, such as thyroid dysfunction, should be treated before resorting to ovulation induction with fertility drugs.