Understanding Fertility Drug Therapy

Several factors can play a role in fertility, infertility, and an individual’s chances of achieving pregnancy. If our doctor determines, however, that pregnancy has not been achieved due to female fertility issues, he might prescribe fertility drug therapy to increase the patient’s chances of pregnancy. Several variations of fertility drugs have been developed and are often used in tandem with other treatments and therapies to give the patient the best chance of achieving pregnancy. The three most common drugs used in fertility therapy treatments all work in the same basic way: they trigger the female body to produce hormones which will then stimulate the ovaries to ovulate (produce and release eggs). When used in tandem with intrauterine insemination (IUI), these therapies can vastly increase chances of achieving pregnancy.

Most Commonly Prescribed Fertility Drug Therapy

  • Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid or Serophene) – This drug is known as an estrogen blocker. Administered orally, it stimulates the pituitary gland to produce hormones including gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) which all work together to trigger the ovaries to produce follicles and release eggs. This oral medication is used in instances of ovulation dysfunction in which other issues, potential causes of infertility, or reproductive abnormalities have been eliminated.  
  • Letrozole (Femara) – FDA approved and most commonly used to treat certain types of breast cancer, this drug is sometimes used “off label” for infertility treatment therapies. Also orally administered, letrozole works in way similar to clomiphene citrate by stimulating the pituitary gland to produce the hormones responsible for follicle growth and ovulation. This medication, however, works slightly differently than clomiphene citrate with a shorter half life and different side effects. Our doctor will work with you individually to determine the best course of fertility treatment based on your unique needs and reproductive system.
  • Gonadotropins (Follistim, Gonal-F, Bravelle, and Menopur) – Unlike the previously mentioned oral medications which stimulate the pituitary gland to produce more hormones, gonadotropins are injections which directly trigger the ovaries to produce more follicles (eggs). Injected in the abdomen, gonadotropins are typically self administered on a carefully appointed schedule timed with ovulation. These drugs are available in two varieties: 1. Purified products from human sources. These are called human menopausal gonadotropins (hMG) and contain both follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone; 2. Genetically engineered products which contain follicle-stimulating hormone.
    • Another type of injection known as Human Corionic Gonadotropin (hCG) is used to stimulate the maturing and release of eggs at the time of ovulation. This also has both human-sourced (Pregnyl or Novanel) and synthetically sourced (Ovidnel) variations.

Although they increase the chances of most women being able to achieve pregnancy, these fertility treatments do have some risk of side effects which include multiple pregnancy, ovarian enlargement, ovarian cysts, abdominal tenderness or bloat, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, flushing, headache, blurred vision, joint pain, fatigue, sweating, hot flashes, insomnia, dizziness, and in rare cases ovarian twisting. Side effects, their occurrence and severity, vary between treatments and individuals. Due to the delicate nature of fertility drug therapy, our doctor works closely with each patient to monitor her progress, treatment schedule, and to remain aware of any potential side effects, ensuring her safety, health, and peace of mind each step of the way.

Knowing Which Fertility Treatments Are Right For You

After completing comprehensive fertility testing with our doctor at Viera Fertility Center with Dr. Chamoun, he might recommend fertility drug therapy as an integral part of your fertility treatment plan in order to assure you have the best possible chance of achieving pregnancy. The various fertility drug therapies are most effective when no other reproductive abnormalities are present and when infertility has been traced to problems with ovulation. If other issues are present, however, fertility drug therapy might still be recommended as an integral part of a larger course of fertility treatments.

Although prescription fertility treatments are mostly self-administered, our doctor continues to work closely with each patient throughout her treatment schedule to ensure proper administration, to monitor the occurrence of potential side effects, and to safeguard the patient’s continued health.