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Why Do I Need HCG Injections After Ovulation During IUI Cycle?

Posted Oct 05 2011 1:54pm

Question
Dr. Ramirez,

My husband and I have been trying to start our family for a few years. I have been pregnant and miscarried 3 times, but is has been over a year and a half since my last miscarriage. I am seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist and their diagnosis for not getting pregnant again is unexplained infertility. We have are trying the IUI process now using Letrozole and I have also been given a prescription to do HCG injections on days 3, 6, and 9 past my LH surge. I am not finding very much information about using HCG after ovulation. I know their reasoning is to supplement my progesterone... but not sure why then, they don't just use progesterone? Please help!

Thank you! G. from Colorado

Answer
Hello G. from the U.S. (Colorado),

HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) injections can be used to support the luteal phase in place of progesterone and there is nothing wrong with that protocol. Most don't use that method because you have to take it as injections and the medication is considerably more expensive. There are many progesterone alternatives such as Crinone, Endometrin, Prometrium that can be used vaginally as a supplement. You should ask your doctor why they don't just use a progesterone supplement.

The other question to ask is "what are they treating or trying to achieve"? Do they suspect that your miscarriages are due to a luteal phase defect i.e. decreased progesterone? In that case testing by an end of cycle endometrial biopsy for dating and/or b-integrin would have diagnosed luteal phase defect and your diagnosis would not be "unexplained infertility." I am not a strong believer in "unexplained infertility" as a real entity. I think it is more like undiagnosed infertility. The cause just has not been found because either a test has not been done to find it or doesn't exist. Often we find that many of these cases of fertilization failures or defects with the sperm (found at the time of IVF) or endometriosis found on laparoscopy. Sometimes age is the problem as well leading to poor embryo quality.

Your question is a good one and you should ask your doctor. Be sure they explain everything to you!

Good Luck,
Dr. Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
www.montereybayivf.com
Monterey, California, U.S.A.

Comment: Thank you so much... for all of your information and quick response! I will follow up with my doctor.
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