When to Start Birth Control Pills for IVF

What type of birth control pills should I be on and when should I start BCP prior to starting my IVF treatments?

QUESTION
I just want to double check before I start birth control pills that it can be any BCP and that it doesn't have to be a certain one? And now that I will be on the pill, are we more flexible with the dates?

ANSWER
When talking about birth control pills for your IVF treatments, there are three main topics to discuss:

  1. Why you need to go on Birth Control Pill (BCP)
  2. Type of birth control pills
  3. When to start your birth control pills


First, let us quickly explain why you need to be on birth control pill. Fertility doctors use birth control pills to make your IVF cycle more regular and predictable, as well as to sync your menstrual cycle with that of your egg donor. Birth control pills can regulate one’s menstrual cycle. They are especially helpful for women with periods that come too often or too infrequently. For the same reasons, IVF doctors use birth control pill in conjunction with fertility treatments. If you are an egg donor recipient, BCP also allows to sync the egg donor's cycle and the intended parent's cycle so that both the recipient and the egg donor can start their treatments on the same day.

Second, we would like to answer your question pertaining to the type of birth control pills most suitable for IVF. There are indeed several types of combination birth control pills. All birth control pills contain estrogen and progestin and categorized as monophasic, biphasic, or triphasic. Instead of going through a long explanation of how all these types of BCP work, we will basically tell you what our fertility doctors recommend. Our IVF doctors recommend light birth control pill that does not cause much hormonal imbalance.

We normally recommend Orthotricyclen which is sold in the U.S. under the name ORTHO TRI-CYCLEN® LO. Ortho Tri-Cyclen (ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate) contains a combination of female hormones that prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from an ovary). You don’t have to use Orthotricyclen and your local doctor can easily prescribe a generic brand BCP similar to Orthotricyclen birth control pill.

birth-control-pills-for-IVFThird, there are two days during your menstrual cycle, when you can start your birth control pills. You can start either on the first day of your period or seven days after it. Either way will work. Our IVF doctors will create an IVF calendar for you, which will clearly state when you need to go off your birth control. Once the patient gets off the birth control pill, she will typically start her period 5 days later. The first day of heavy menstrual flows will be your Cycle Day 1.

Note that some IVF protocols will require you to stay on the pill longer than 21 days. This means that you will need to purchase at least two months worth of supplies. If the blue pill is your active pill, you should continue taking the blue pill until the day that your IVF calendar instructs you to get off the pill. Do not take any placebo pills, known as the sugar pills. It is important that you follow the instructions provided by our IVF doctors rather than those that came with your birth control pills.


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