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What is Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Antagonist?

The phrase “gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist” certainly is a mouthful, but it’s also a successful fertility treatment option. We break it down below to give you the simple scoop on what this medicine is and who it’s intended for.

What is the gonadotropin-releasing hormone?
First, you may wonder what the gonadotropin-releasing hormone actually is. This is a hormone that signals your pituitary gland to release the follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH. FSH stimulates the development of follicles in your ovaries that contain eggs. When an egg matures, the follicle releases it so it can be ready for fertilization.

What is GnRH antagonist therapy?
Antagonists are types of medicines that stop something from working. If you are undergoing an assisted reproductive procedure such as IVF, it’s important to be able to time ovulation so the optimal number of eggs can be harvested. GnRH antagonists (like Antagon or Centrotide) suppress pituitary gland function and prevent premature ovulation—when the eggs may be released before they can be harvested. After you take GnRH, you are often given hCG is given to trigger ovulation, so the eggs can be successfully retrieved.

What are some side effects of GnRH antagonists?
Like any medicines, GnRH antagonists can cause some side effects. These include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, headache, spotting, or a localized skin reaction at the site of the injection.

Who uses GnRH antagonists?
GnRH antagonists are often used in IVF cycles, when a woman’s eggs must be successfully harvested. They can also be used to closely time ovulation before some insemination procedures, since unpredictable ovulation can hurt the success of the procedure.

For more information on what the GnRH antagonist protocol entails, check out the video by Dr. Daniel Shapiro from Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta.
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