Things to Know About Fertility Drugs
What are Fertility Drugs?
Fertility drugs are actually hormone-stimulating medications prescribed to women who cannot get pregnant after trying to conceive for at least one year. For example, fertility drugs like Serophene and Clomid block estrogen from entering the blood stream so the hypothalamus and pituitary glands are forced to release gonadotropin and follicle-stimulating hormones. Women who do not have enough of these two hormones in their bloodstream may be unable to produce eggs necessary for conception.
Serophene and Clomid are sometimes used to increase fertility in women undergoing an assisted reproductive technique (ART) such as artificial insemination. Another type of fertility drug is Letrozole, which inhibits the release of estrogen and encourages FSH production. Women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome or unexplained anovulation may find Letrozole helpful for increasing production of FSH essential for normal egg ovulation.
10 Facts about Fertility Drugs
- Most fertility drugs are “ovulation induction” drugs meant for women with ovulation disorders. The goal of an ovulation induction drug is to produce one mature egg during each treatment cycle.
- Fertility drugs called gonadotropins are ovarian stimulating drugs formulated to produce multiple dominant follicles during each cycle. Administered via injection, gonadotropins are sometimes combined with in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination procedures to improve the chance for conception.
- Before prescribing a fertility drug, doctors need blood and imaging tests to help them determine what is causing infertility. In some cases, patients may need to chart her menstrual cycle for several months or take a basal body temperature every morning. If a fertility doctor does not think fertility drugs will improve conception chances, the doctor may recommend IVF or IUI.
- Side effects of fertility drugs are usually minimal and temporary. Most common side effects are nausea, bloating, headache, moodiness and breast tenderness.
- When women suffer infertility due to premature ovulation, doctors may prescribe medications called GnRH agonists. Injected into the skin or administered as a nasal spray, GnRH agonists enable a woman’s body to make higher numbers of viable eggs by preventing the mid-cycle surge of hormones from “canceling” the cycle.
- Some herbal fertility supplements such as black cohosh or red clover claim to help women get pregnant by restoring hormonal balance. No clinical evidence exists to support these claims. Only FDA-approved fertility drugs have been researched and shown through rigorous data analyses to significantly improve a woman’s ability to conceive.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is a condition affecting about one to two percent of women using fertility drugs. OHSS causes enlargement of the ovaries and abnormal shifts in the body’s chemical and fluid balance. There is also a slight risk of blood clots developing in the major veins.
- Fertility drugs may not work for women with structural abnormalities of their uterus, fallopian tubes or other reproductive system component. If a doctor finds a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked due to tubal scarring or fluid, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
- Fertility drugs are most successful for women who do not smoke, drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. Eating healthy foods also supports fertility drug treatment by ensuring the patient is receiving the appropriate nutrients.
- Some fertility drugs may require women learn how to inject themselves at home. Timing of fertility drug injections may need to correlate with timing of intercourse.
Fertility drugs help millions of women every year achieve pregnancy. While some women enjoy success with fertility drugs, some will need to combine fertility drugs with an ART to conceive. In addition, Dr. Lawler wants all women to know that infertility is not psychological but a physical problem requiring tests and exams to determine if ovulation is normal, if hormone levels are normal and if uterine polyps or fibroids are interfering with ovulation and pregnancy.
If you are experiencing infertility, call the Lawler Centre today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lawler. Following diagnosis of your fertility, Dr. Lawler may prescribe fertility drugs and/or an assisted reproductive technology to help you become achieve pregnancy.