Last Updated: March 8, 2019

Definition - What does Gonadotropin mean?

Gonadotropins are hormones that trigger the recruitment and growth of follicles. Gonadotropins emulate or enhance the naturally occurring hormones, either supporting the development and maturation of an egg within the ovary or stimulating ovary follicles to produce multiple eggs. These measures are taken to increase the chance of a successful conception or procedure. When taken as medication, gonadotropins are typically administered via injection.

FertilitySmarts explains Gonadotropin

The pituitary gland, a small gland at the base of the brain, is responsible for producing the hormones that stimulate ovulation: follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These two hormones are what is known as gonadotropins.

During a standard cycle, the brain promotes the development of these hormones, and as a result, most women produce one egg per month. However, if FSH and LH do not work properly, ovulation may not occur, and infertility may result. Gonadotropins may be prescribed to stimulate low functioning ovaries.

Most commonly, gonadotropins are used to hyperstimulate the ovaries, leading to the production of multiple eggs at once. This is because the chances of success with fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), increase with access to multiple eggs.

Common side effects of gonadotropins include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain and bloating
  • Pain or irritation at the injection point
  • Mood swings

There are some risks associated with gonadotropin use; the chance of multiple pregnancies increases with use, along with the risk of ectopic pregnancies, ovarian torsion, or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a condition that may require medical treatment.

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