IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is an assisted reproductive therapy that can help couples get pregnant. The IVF process involves many stages, including the use of a progesterone supplement after IVF.
At The Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Lubbock, TX, Dr. Janelle Dorsett discusses why we prescribe progesterone after IVF, along with the proper use and possible side effects of these medications.
How Does Progesterone Support Pregnancy?
During ovulation, eggs are released from the ovarian follicles and the ovaries begin to produce progesterone. This hormone prepares the uterine lining to receive and nourish an embryo.
If a woman becomes pregnant, the ovaries continue to produce progesterone for about eight weeks, at which point the placenta takes over progesterone-producing duties. If a woman doesn’t become pregnant, progesterone levels decrease, which triggers menstruation.
Progesterone Use after Egg Retrieval and Embryo Transfer
During the IVF treatment process, medications are used to encourage the body to produce multiple follicles and prevent early ovulation. In addition, the eggs are retrieved from the body by the IVF doctor, rather than through the natural reproductive process. All of this affects your progesterone levels.
To maintain healthy progesterone levels that support pregnancy, we prescribe progesterone supplements. Patients should start taking progesterone on their egg retrieval day. Daily use of progesterone supplements should continue until you get the results of your pregnancy test.
If you test positive for pregnancy, you should continue to take progesterone supplements through all or most or your first trimester. Typically, patients that become pregnant after IVF take progesterone supplements for 10 to 12 weeks.
If you don’t test positive for pregnancy after IVF, you can stop taking the progesterone supplements.
Progesterone Levels during IVF and Pregnancy
Throughout your IVF treatment process, we will monitor your progesterone and other hormone levels through routine blood tests. These allow us to determine if you are ready for the retrieval and transfer, and to adjust your medication as needed.
Depending on the stage of the menstruation cycle or pregnancy, normal progesterone levels in women are:
- Follicular stage of menstruation (first day of period to ovulation): 0.1 to 0.7 ng/mL
- Luteal stage of the menstrual cycle (ovulation to the end of the menstrual cycle): 2 to 25 ng/mL
- First trimester of pregnancy: 10 to 44 ng/mL
- Second trimester of pregnancy: 19.5 to 82.5 ng/mL
- Third trimester of pregnancy: 65 to 290 ng/mL
Typically, we want your progesterone levels to be at least 10 or 12 ng/mL for embryo transfer.
Progesterone Supplement Side Effects
Although progesterone can be administered as an injection, oral and vaginal suppositories are more commonly used by IVF patients.
Some of the general side effects of progesterone include:
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in appetite
- Bloating or swelling
- Weight gain
Vaginal suppositories can increase the risk of spotting or light bleeding. This can be extremely concerning for patients, but it is not uncommon.
Oral progesterone supplements are more likely to result in an upset stomach or drowsiness.
Contact Our Practice
To find out if IVF is right for you, contact our practice online or call us in Lubbock at (806) 788-1212.