Last Updated: March 8, 2019

Definition - What does Superovulation mean?

Superovulation occurs when a woman who ovulates normally is given medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one follicle. A woman generally produces only one follicle each cycle. Multiple follicles can create more than one egg, which increases the overall chance of at least one fertilized egg that results in pregnancy.

Superovulation is different from ovulation induction, where the goal is to release one egg each cycle.

Superovulation may also be known as controlled ovarian stimulation (COS).

FertilitySmarts explains Superovulation

Superovulation is achieved through the use of medications. Clomiphene citrate (clomid) may be used, but gonadotropins in high doses are most likely to produce multiple follicles. Monitoring is needed to ensure a women does not produce too many eggs.

When the desired number of follicles mature, a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection is given to cause ovulation.

Superovulation is generally combined with intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI) as an initial treatment for several types of infertility where blocked fallopian tubes are not a concern. Women with block fallopian tubes are at a greater risk for an ectopic pregnancy and should not undergo ovulation induction unless it is in preparation for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

A semen analysis of the male partner can help to decide if superovulation should be combined with intercourse, IUI or in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Risks include multiple births, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), ovarian torsion and ectopic pregnancies.

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