The Pill May Actually Help Some Women Get Pregnant
April 6, 2000 (Baltimore) -- Women who take birth control pills to prevent
their ovaries from producing an egg for a month -- a process called anovulation
-- prior to in vitro fertilization (IVF) experience an enhanced rate of
pregnancy, a study in the current issue of the journal Fertility and
"When oral contraceptives are used to induce anovulation before IVF
treatment, the second IVF cycle after anovulation seems to favor pregnancy more
than the first cycle," writes Misao Fukada, MD, of the Fukada Ladies'
Clinic in Ako, Japan, and the study's lead author. "Anovulation may
therefore provide improved conditions for the development of a healthier [egg]
with an increased pregnancy potential up to two menstrual cycles
Fukada and colleagues used oral contraceptives to induce anovulation in more
than 30 women who had each undergone a number of unsuccessful IVF attempts. All
of the women had both ovaries and had developed a pre-embryo in a previous IVF
cycle, indicating that their chances for a successful pregnancy were good. The
pregnancy rate per cycle in the second cycle after a period of anovulation
(30%) and the first and second cycle combined after a period of anovulation
(23%) were significantly higher than that before anovulation (9%).
"The present study shows that a period of anovulation enhances
conception rates of IVF treatment compared with the rates obtained when
continuous ovulations occur," Fukada writes. Why this occurs was not
explored in this study.
Fady Sharara, MD, tells WebMD, "The utility of anovulation is
well-documented. We have been using oral contraceptives to induce anovulation
for about six years now in our center, although many centers don't use oral
contraceptives to do this. I personally feel use of oral contraceptives is
paramount, because it works to quiet down the ovaries by a different mechanism
than [drugs currently used in many IVF programs]." Sharara, who was not
involved in the study, is associate professor in the division of reproductive
endocrinology and infertility at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
- The birth control pill prevents a woman's ovaries from producing an egg,
creating a state called anovulation. Japanese researchers say using the pill
briefly to cause anovulation may improve conditions for pregnancy to occur
through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in some women.
- The researchers gave 30 women oral contraceptives to stop egg production,
after IVF had been unsuccessful. In the first two attempts at IVF after
anovulation, their pregnancy rate was much higher than before they took the
- An observer notes that some fertility specialists are using anovulation to
improve chances of pregnancy, although IVF centers may use other drugs instead
to create this state.