I got some questions about that, both in person and online and figured this would be a great start to explaining how an IVF cycle works. Or at least, how my cycle will work.
An IVF cycle starts when your Dr decides the type of protocol you will follow. What this means is there are several different drug combinations that can be given, and choosing one is the first step in the IVF process. Your Dr bases the protocol you will use off of your diagnosis and/or response in previous cycles. The go to protocol for most women is what is called a long lupron protocol. It is most often the first protocol a Dr will try, despite your diagnosis.
This is the protocol I am being put on. One other thing to keep in mind is that each clinic has it’s own variation of a protocol. They typically use the same meds, or types of meds, but might use different dosages or start them on different days. It often even varies by patient. This is one of the more confusing aspects of an IVF cycle, as each woman has different instructions and different things she is taking at different times.
Anyway. To start a long lupron cycle, your Dr will start by putting you on birth control. This is to basically reset your ovaries and to help prevent cysts from forming. Sometimes it is also used to sync you up with other women at your clinic, as some clinics like to have everyone on the exact same schedule so that all retrievals and transfers occur around the same time period. My clinic is simply doing it to suppress any cysts.
So for the first time in my life I am taking birth control. Which is… odd? I will be on the pill from the 17th until October 1st, at which point I will stop taking them and expect a withdrawl bleed, or period within 3 to 4 days.
The next step of the protocol starts on the 26th when I will begin injecting 10 units luprolide acetate every evening. This will be one of the easier injections I do, as it uses an insulin syringe and is a subcutaneous injection. From there it will be getting more bloodwork and another baseline ultrasound on CD1 when my period starts and then I will be given the schedule for my stimulation, which should start sometime around October 5th or 6th. That is when the real crazyness will begin.