If you’re trying to get pregnant and you’re facing some difficulties in achieving it, you might have started searching for information about various fertility treatments. It’s also quite likely that you have come across fertility drugs such as ovidrel and pregnyl and you can’t really understand the difference between them, or whether they are actually the same drug but with different names.
Let’s shed some light on these fertility medications.
What is human chorionic gonadotropin?
To be able to understand these fertility drugs it’s important to have some knowledge about the pregnancy hormone HCG: human chorionic gonadotropin.
HCG is the hormone produced by the trophoblast, the growing cells around the developing embryo. HCG is produced from the very beginning of pregnancy and it helps to maintain the production of one of the most important hormones in pregnancy: progesterone. HCG is especially relevant during the first 3 months of pregnancy. Then the placenta, which is fully developed by then, takes over.
The luteinizing hormone also helps with the production of progesterone.
HCG levels drop once the placenta is fully functioning, at about 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Before pregnancy, HCG is responsible for the growth and release of a mature egg during ovulation. Once pregnancy is achieved HCG levels rise significantly. For this reason, HCG is the hormone used in almost every pregnancy test in the market.
What is ovidrel?
To achieve pregnancy it’s important that the egg production and release in the ovaries work well. HCG hormone is very important in this process and is often where infertility starts. An ovidrel injection is used for certain fertility problems where HCG production isn’t adequate.
Although there haven’t been many popular articles in recent years, research has shown that ovidrel significantly increases the chances of achieving pregnancy.
What is pregnyl?
Pregnyl is another fertility drug that contains HCG.
Pregnyl is the pharmaceutical name for the hormone HCG obtained naturallyand directly from pregnant women. A pregnyl trigger shot is used around the time of ovulation to help the ovary release a mature and healthy egg.
It is also used in men to increase their sperm count and sometimes in young boys when their testes have not descended into the scrotum or sac.
Although there is evidence that pregnyl helps women become pregnant, this is based on older studies; more and newer research is needed with regard to this drug.
Difference between ovidrel and pregnyl
Although there are small differences between ovidrel and pregnyl they are very similar; the main component of both drugs is HCG.
The hormone found in ovidrel is choriogonadotropin alfa and the one found in pregnyl is choriogonadotropin.
Some people consider pregnyl as the generic version of ovidrel but this isn’t correct.
The main difference between these two variants of HCG hormone is that pregnyl is obtained from pregnant women’s urine. HCG is extracted and purified.
Ovidrel is created completely in a lab, using what is called DNA technology. The synthetic hormone obtained is called recombinant human chorionic gonadotropin. In this case, the HCG hormone present in the trigger shot has more similarities with the natural luteinizing hormone that provokes ovulation.
Both shots are used to treat infertility in women. Ovidrel is usually used in combination with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
You can read more about the menstrual cycle and the different hormonal functions in Menstrual Cycle – Stages, Phases And What To Expect.
What is a trigger shot?
A trigger shot contains either ovidrel or pregnyl and it’s used just before ovulation to boost the chances of healthy eggs being released.
If conception is to happen naturally, it’s usually used in every cycle until pregnancy is achieved.
When this is the path taken, sexual intercourse is scheduled to maximize the chances of conception.
When the fertility treatment includes egg retrieval, the woman gets the trigger shots monthly until viable healthy eggs are extracted.
Just before ovulation, there is a sudden surge of luteinizing hormone. This hormone is responsible for egg release in the ovary.
Although the trigger shots contain HCG, when HCG is given artificially in an HCG injection it usually works like luteinizing hormone, maturing the egg and helping it burst out of the ovary.
The trigger shot can be given as an intramuscular injection (the liquid is injected into the muscle) or subcutaneously (underneath the skin). It doesn’t matter where the shot is given, as long as the injection site is cleaned and prepared before giving the trigger shot. This makes it easier for the couple to do it at home.
Hormonal shots are useful if the woman doesn’t ovulate (doesn’t produce eggs), if her ovulation is ‘weak’ (doesn’t produce mature eggs every month), or as a part of a fertility treatment, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) where fertilization of the egg happens outside the woman’s body.
Ovidrel side effects
To induce ovulation artificially involves the use of potent drugs that stimulate egg production and help with its final maturation.
Although not all women who take these drugs will experience severe side effects or even any side effects at all, it’s not uncommon to come across some mild reactions to these trigger shots and fertility medications.
Make sure you always use these drugs under direct medical advice provided by fertility experts.
If you feel signs compatible with an allergic reaction (swelling in your face, mouth, tongue, throat, shortness of breath, dizziness, hives…) seek immediate emergency help.
Let’s look at the most common possible side effects while taking ovidrel:
#1: Abdominal discomfort
Ovidrel injections might cause abdominal pain, as they can upset the stomach, making you feel sick and nauseous.
There might also be pain associated with the injection site, especially if you take several cycles of the treatment.
Altering your hormonal activity can make you tired as your body is working extra hard. The added stress of trying to conceive might also take its toll on your rest.
Make sure you sleep well and find time to rest as much as possible. If you’re having trouble sleeping or resting your healthcare provider will be able to help you. Make sure you call your doctor’s office if you’re not getting enough rest.
These aren’t rare when taking artificial hormones. The body takes a bit of time to adjust and this can cause you to experience headaches. Inform your doctor if you need something to alleviate them or if they become severe.
#4: Irritability, sadness and depression
Sometimes hormonal imbalances might persist for some time and you might be irritable, sad or even depressed. Make sure you inform your health care provider. Even though these symptoms should recede when you stop the treatment there are things that can be done to minimize feeling like this.
#5: Rapid weight gain
If you swell up, your waistline starts to disappear, and you feel you’re gaining weight too fast, then the dose of your trigger shots might be too high for you. If this is the case, contact your doctor who will be able to provide medical advice on this issue.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
All gonadotropin products (ovidrel, pregnyl, and others) can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Women undergoing fertility treatments are at a higher risk of developing this condition.
Unfortunately, OHSS can be one of the adverse effects of fertility treatments with HCG trigger shots. Your fertility doctor will closely monitor your ovarian response to these injections, as severe OHSS can be life threatening.
Make sure you call your health care provider if you experience any of the above-mentioned possible side effects while on