Use of ultrasound scan, and if needed blood tests, to monitor the development and growth of a dominant follicle, the process of ovulation and the progesterone level 7 days after the ovulation.
Cycle monitoring is a natural process that allows a fertility specialist to get an accurate overview of when a patient is likely to be ovulating. Knowing when a person is ovulating allows a doctor to help determine when they should be having sex to conceive naturally (the patient’s fertility window), or the best time for a patient to undergo IVF or IUI treatments. This process will normally be carried out throughout several cycles, to discover and mark out any patterns in terms of days.
It should be noted that cycle monitoring will require a lot of time and emotional commitment, as it will mean visiting your doctor regularly for several months. However, once the process is complete, a specialist should be able to quickly provide you with advice, recommendations for other assessments, or suggestions for treatment to help increase your fertility potential.
There are three main stages of analysis involved in cycle monitoring. These are monitoring menstruation, monitoring your ovaries in the time leading up to ovulation, and then monitoring ovulation. During menstruation, your doctor will be able to determine when you will need to return to monitor ovulation. During ovulation, you will need to visit your doctor daily.
The process of cycle monitoring will begin at the start of menstruation, at which time you will be asked to visit your doctor on one of the first few days during your cycle. In the appointment itself, your doctor will look at the follicles in your ovary to see if any are starting to grow at this stage. It is also important to look at the follicles to see how many you have, as this may have an impact on your overall fertility potential.
Follicles will be checked using vaginal ultrasound. As part of the treatment process involved in cycle monitoring, it will also be necessary for the doctor to take blood samples. As such, you will also need to be prepared for them to take blood work at each appointment you attend.
Depending on the length of your cycle, you may need to return and visit the doctor again somewhere between 7 and 12 days after your first appointment. You will be monitored every few days leading up to ovulation and then you will be required to visit your doctor every day during ovulation itself.
During cycle monitoring, your doctor will be looking for healthy follicle behaviour, which should help to determine your chances of conception. The more follicles present, the higher the chances are that you will be producing eggs. At the beginning of the process, a follicle should measure somewhere between 2 mm and 9 mm, before growing to around 20 mm for healthy ovulation. This, alongside your regular hormone levels, indicates whether or not there is a good chance of being able to conceive.
Cycle monitoring can be used as a standalone treatment to help a patient determine when they should be having sex with their partner to conceive, or it can be used as part of an overall IVF or IUI treatment plan. This is because the tests involved can also help to determine the best time for insemination.
Having this treatment carried out can also help specialists to determine if there are any issues preventing conception, as well as other problems within the reproductive system. Having this information may allow the doctor to provide more comprehensive advice, recommend assessments, or suggest specific treatments that could help the patient to conceive without any further help or assistance.