The purpose of ovulation induction is to have 1–2 egg cells mature with the help of hormone treatment. This treatment is used when the female partner has an irregular menstrual cycle or if the maturation of egg cells is faulty for any reason. Ovulation induction may also be used in association with insemination, i.e., artificial fertilization.
The physician designs a treatment plan and the hormones needed to make the egg cells mature are taken either as tablets by mouth or as injections under the skin. Usually, clomiphene or letrozole is used as tablets for 5 days in the early phase of the menstrual cycle. Development of the ovarian follicle and the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) is followed with the use of sonography (ultrasound).
When pregnancy induction is attempted, ovulation tests may be performed. These tests will tell if an egg cell is about to be released from the ovary. If the tests are feasible for the patient, they are very helpful for establishing the point in time when ovulation takes place. Sonography (ultrasound) and blood test may also be used to follow ovulation and the development of the ovarian follicle. Medicines may also be used to support the release of egg cells from the ovary.
Once the ovulation test becomes positive, intercourse is advisable during the following days, since the egg cells may be fertilized only during a brief time span.