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History of Ovulation Induction

Since the early 1960’s we have been privileged to witness one of the most amazing evolutions in modern medical practice, that of infertility treatment. Up to that time we could do little to help the infertile couple and a consultation usually consisted explanation of the frequency and timing of intercourse. The 1960’s, the introduction and widespread use of the oral contraceptive pill, paradoxically also brought about the possibility to treat anovulation (No eggs) and cure infertility emanating from this cause.

Clomiphene citrate (Clomid) was the first agent to restore ovulation and this was soon followed by the extraction and purification of human menopausal gonadotrophins from urine.

Luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are produced by recombinant technology, shorn of impurities and very safe. The, gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) was discovered in the 1970’s eventually leading to today’s widespread use of GnRH agonists and antagonists.

The advent of IVF, due to the foresight of Steptoe and Edwards, and the ensuing technique of intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) have been incredible steps forward. In the last 50 years or so, we have progressed from helplessness to hopefulness for all infertile couples.

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