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Pills Enhance IVF Success

Understanding the Role of Birth Control Pills Before Starting IVF

| 09 May 2024 | 14686 Views |

Why Use Birth Control Before IVF?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a beacon of hope for many striving to conceive. To optimize the outcome of IVF treatments, reproductive endocrinologists often prescribe birth control pills (BCPs) before starting the actual IVF cycle. This may seem counterintuitive since the primary use of birth control pills is to prevent pregnancy, but in the context of IVF, they play a crucial role in scheduling and improving the effectiveness of the treatment.

How Do Birth Control Pills Work in the IVF Process?

Types of Birth Control Pills:
Combination Pills: Contain synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone.
Minipills: Contain only synthetic progesterone (progestin).

These pills help regulate your menstrual cycle by preventing ovulation. By controlling when ovulation occurs, doctors can better schedule the timing of IVF treatments, ensuring that your body is in the optimal state for embryo implantation.

The Strategic Role of Birth Control in IVF

Birth control pills are integrated into the IVF cycle primarily to:

  • Regulate your cycle: This ensures that the IVF process starts at the most suitable time during your cycle.
  • Prevent premature ovulation: Maintaining control over your cycle helps in synchronizing the growth and retrieval of eggs.
  • Improve egg yield: Pretreatment with BCPs has been shown to potentially increase the number of viable eggs during ovarian stimulation.

Can Birth Control Cause Infertility?

A common concern is whether long-term use of birth control can lead to infertility. Studies show that birth control pills do not affect fertility after discontinuation. The ability to conceive generally returns to normal once BCPs are stopped, and it may take a few weeks for ovulation cycles to regularize.

Who Should Avoid Birth Control?

While BCPs are safe for many, they are not suitable for everyone. Individuals over 35 who smoke or have a history of certain health conditions such as blood clots, breast cancer, or severe migraines are advised against using BCPs that contain estrogen.

Complementary Medications Used Alongside BCPs in IVF

In an IVF treatment plan, BCPs may be used alongside other medications, including:

  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone
  • Human chorionic gonadotrophin

These medications support the ovaries to maximize egg production and enhance the chances of successful implantation and pregnancy.

Is Birth Control Used in Other Fertility Treatments?

Yes, BCPs may also be prescribed before other fertility treatments or diagnostic tests to regulate menstrual cycles. This regulation is crucial for timing procedures like the hysterosalpingogram (HSG) or saline infusion sonohysterogram (SIS), which are performed at specific times during the cycle to assess reproductive health.


In preparation for IVF, birth control pills are more than just contraceptives. They are strategic tools used to manage the timing and physiological conditions necessary for maximizing the effectiveness of IVF. While BCPs are an integral part of many IVF protocols, it’s essential to consult with a fertility specialist to understand the best approach based on your unique health profile and fertility goals. Under proper medical guidance, the use of BCPs can significantly support the success of your IVF cycle and the journey towards achieving pregnancy.

About The Author
Dr. Richika Sahay

MBBS (Gold Medalist), DNB (Obst & Gyne), MNAMS, MRCOG (London-UK), Fellow IVF, Fellow MAS, Infertility (IVF) Specialist & Gynae Laparoscopic surgeon,[Ex AIIMS & Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi]. Read more

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