About insemination and stimulation

ART – what?

ART stands for Assisted Reproductive Treatment. This is the general term for the different fertility treatments: artificial insemination, IVF, IVF-ICSI, IVM, etc.

If spontaneous natural conception is proving difficult, various ART treatments are available to help you get pregnant.
The best method of treatment depends on the nature of your fertility problem.
The CRG doctor will perform tests to find the cause of your reduced fertility: see examinations man and woman.
Preliminary care programme and Guidance discuss the start of an ART treatment, and the professional guidance you receive at the CRG.

Apart from IVF|ICSI you can also go to the CRG for:
  • timed intercourse,
  • artificial insemination,
  • possibly combined with
  • ovulation-induction.

An ART treatment usually involves (light) ovarian stimulation. That is why we will start with this.

Ovarian stimulation

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Will ovarian stimulation not deplete my supply of eggs prematurely?

During the natural cycle, usually only one follicle fully matures into a fertile egg.
An ART treatment therefore often involves hormonal stimulation of the ovaries. This supports the egg ripening process and/or to allow several eggs to develop at the same time.
The ovarian stimulation method largely depends on the type of treatment. This is why we will discuss the stimulation methods for each treatment separately. The following is a summary of the general principles.

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Is hormone treatment harmful?

Hormone preparations and anti-hormones       

For the ovarian stimulation
  • either hormones are used which are also produced by a woman's body, be it in different circumstances or at other times (see female hormones),
  • or a woman's body is synthetically influenced and stimulated in this way.
The preparations below can all be used as part of a stimulation course. Only hCG is used to trigger ovulation.
  • anti-oestrogens: sometimes we use a synthetic substance to (lightly) stimulate the ovaries. To find out how exactly it works, see clomiphene citrate.
  • aromatase-inhibitors: this synthetic product inhibits the transformation of testosterone (in the ovary) into female hormone (oestrogen). This fools the brain, just like with clomiphene citrate, into thinking there are insufficient levels of oestrogen present and more FSH is produced, thus stimulating the ovaries.
  • hMG (human menopausal gonadotrophin) is a combination of FSH and LH. The levels of both these hormones are high during the menopause. In an IVF|ICSI treatment, a purified form obtained from human urine is used. It has the same effect as FSH.
  • FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is a sex hormone produced in the hypophysis. It ensures the growth and development of follicles in the ovaries. In an IVF|ICSI treatment, a purified form obtained from human urine is used;
  • rec-FSH. A synthetic version of the naturally occurring FSH. 'rec' stands for 'recombinant';
  • LH (luteinising hormone) is the sex hormone which stimulates ovulation, it is not produced medically, because it can be substituted by hCG, which has the same effect. There is a synthetic product, rec-LH, which is not currently available in Belgium;
  • hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophine) or pregnancy hormone. It can be obtained from the urine of pregnant women and when administered at the correct moment of a stimulation course, it has the same effect as LH: it causes ovulation after 36-42 hours.