If you are not able to conceive and your reproductive system just needs a little bit of a nudge, fertility drugs can be a great solution. The medications that are available for infertility can be extremely effective and they are often the first solution that is prescribed by doctors. There are millions of couples every year who use fertility pills to get pregnant, without having to resort to higher tech and more expensive procedures such as in vitro fertilization.
When it comes to fertility drugs there are a lot of different options out there. Some of these drugs will work by stimulating the ovaries to produce many eggs, which will help you to conceive. Other drugs will help you to prevent ovulating prematurely during assisted reproductive technology procedures.
Your doctor might prescribe fertility drugs in order to allow your body to release more than one egg per cycle. This is known as controlled hyperstimulation of the ovary and it improves the chances of at least one of the eggs being fertilised1.
Sometimes doctors will not prescribe these drugs unless you have got at least 12 months trying to conceive with no success. Talk to your doctor to find out if these drugs are the best bet for you.
Fertility drugs are often used if the woman has a thyroid disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome, ovulation problems, weight problems or excess prolactin. Also, these drugs might help if you have an eating disorder. Many women try various fertility drugs and have several attempts before a successful pregnancy occurs.
So what kind of fertility drugs are available out there, and what advantages and disadvantages do they have to offer? Each of the drugs will offer a different type of effect and result. The right one for you will depend on your fertility needs, your medical history and how your body reacts to it. Some women have to try a few different fertility drugs before they find the right one – so be patient and listen to your body. Here are some of the options you can choose from.
Also known as Clomiphene Citrate or Serophene. This is one of the most well known fertility drugs and it will cause the body to release multiple eggs in a cycle. It is typically the first one that is prescribed and it has been used with success for about 40 years. It is usually given to women who are not ovulating normally. The drug will cause the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus to release hormones which will stimulate the ovaries into producing eggs2. These fertility drugs are usually used in combination with artificial insemination or assisted reproductive techniques.
Clomid is usually taken on the third, fourth or fifth day after you start your period. You take the drug for five days and you ovulate about 7 days after you have taken the last dose of the drug. If you do not ovulate at that point, the dosage of the drug can be increased up to 150 mg. Approximately 60-80% of women who take this drug will ovulate and about half will be able to get pregnant as a result. Most pregnancies will occur within three cycles3.
This is usually the drug that most doctors will prescribe first if a women is struggling to conceive and it is time to try fertility drugs. However, it doesn’t always work. If your body doesn’t respond to Clomid there are many other options that your doctor might try as a plan B.
These are drugs that are made from the hormones in the body that normally stimulate the gonads – the ovaries and the testes4. They can be extracted by genetic modification and urine. If you tried taking the fertility drug Clomid but your body didn’t respond to it, a doctor might prescribe gonadotropins. This drug will also help men who have a hormonal imbalance that causes a low sperm count or poor sperm quality or motility. So, if your doctor says that the fertility problems might be affected by the poor sperm quality of your partner, you can encourage him to take this fertility drug as well.
The pregnancy rate of gonadotropins with timed intercourse is 15 percent per cycle. If you get pregnant you will have a 30 percent chance of conceiving multiples. Gonadotropins are usually used for women with polycystic ovary syndrome who have not responded to other drugs – or women who are undergoing IVF5.
The gonadotropins, such as follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, tell your ovaries to release the egg that they have just developed. The LH will stimulate the follicle to release the egg and the HCG will ensure that the follicle is in the right condition to release progesterone and maintain a pregnancy.
This drug isn’t usually considered a fertility drug – it was originally intended to treat postmenopausal women with breast cancer. The drug is called Femara and it is similar to Clomid – it helps to stimulate ovulation. It is particularly helpful for women with PCOS. The drug is approved for breast cancer treatment but it is also very popular for helping with ovulation stimulation6.
However, a study in Canada in 2005 found that babies born after Femara use had a 3 times higher risk of birth defects. This study isn’t the most reliable source though, because many have called it inconclusive and flawed7. However, this drug still isn’t prescribed as often. It is considered a second choice and it is usually only given by doctors when Clomid isn’t working.
This is a fertility drug that is used to correct a hormonal imbalance, which is a condition that can prevent your ovaries from releasing an egg every month. If you have too much of the hormone prolactin in your body, you can benefit from taking bromocriptine. Too much prolactin will reduce the levels of the hormone oestrogen. This can cause problems and make it more difficult to conceive a baby.
This drug might be beneficial for you if you have too much of the hormone prolactin in your body. This will reduce the levels of oestrogen and cause problems with ovulation, which will make it difficult to get pregnant.
You can take bromocriptine as tablets that you swallow, or capsules that you insert into your vagina. The common brand name for this drug is Parlodel. If you think that it might be the best option for you, talk to your doctor about the risks and side effects and whether or not it would be right for your needs8.
This drug is another option and it will act like follicle stimulating hormone. It will help cause the ovaries to produce eggs and it is usually used in combination with another hormone for the release and growth of a mature egg.
This drug is somewhat unique, as it is extracted and purified from the urine of women who are post-menopausal. It is an injectable drug and when it is used it will require close monitoring by a doctor. You will need to undergo frequent sonogram and blood tests during the treatment. It is also a very pricey drug, so if you have a small budget it might not be a good option for you9.
This is a fertility drug that will perform the function of the hormone FSH, which stands for follicle stimulating hormone. It is an injection rather than a pill and it is often prescribed for women who have ovulation problems and who have tried Clomid with no success.
One of the disadvantages to taking Follistim is that the women who take it will be monitored closely by sonogram and blood tests every two to three days. Also, this drug is very expensive and so the cost can be a limiting factor.
This is a drug that will make the body much more sensitive to insulin. It was designed as a treatment for diabetes, but it is also used to treat problems with ovulation in women who are suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It can be used on its own, or it can be used in combination with Clomid.
This drug is often prescribed for women who are obese, as they are likely to suffer with issues around insulin. Also, it is often recommended for women who are resistant to clomifene when it is used by itself.
When you are taking metformin, you will take it every day in several doses. It will work by lowering levels of insulin that circulates in your blood, which will lower testosterone levels and help your body to ovulate in a normal rhythm. One of the common brand names for metformin is Glucophage. To find out more about it, contact your doctor with your questions.
Fertility Drugs – Which is Right for You?
These are just a few of the common fertility drugs that are prescribed by doctors for treating fertility. These drugs can be very helpful and can mean the difference between struggling to conceive a baby and finally being able to start a family like you have always wanted. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that, like any drug, these pills and injections have side effects. The drugs will increase the risk of having multiples, which will cause a greater risk of complications such as premature labour and miscarriage. Take a look into the specific side effects of each drug so that you can have a better understanding.
Talk to your doctor and take your time researching your options so that you can find the best possible fertility drug for your needs. Make sure that you discuss with your healthcare provider about the risk involved so that you can make the right decision for you.
- AttainFertility. Baby Boosting Fertility Drugs For Women. http://attainfertility.com/article/fertility-drugs-women (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Medications Used With Infertility Treatment. http://www.pamf.org/fertility/treatments/medications/ (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- WebMD. Fertility Drug Types: Injectable Hormones, Clomid, and More. http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/fertility-drugs (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- Boundless. Hormonal Regulation of the Reproductive System. https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biology-textbook/the-endocrine-system-37/regulation-of-body-processes-212/hormonal-regulation-of-the-reproductive-system-798-12034/ (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- BabyCenter. Fertility Drug: Gonadotropins. http://www.babycenter.com/0_fertility-drug-gonadotropins_6188.bc (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago. Femara (Letrozole) for Infertility, Ovulation Problems and PCOS Treatment. http://www.advancedfertility.com/femara-letrozole-fertility.htm (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- MedPage Today. Femara Link To Birth Defects Called Incorrect. http://www.medpagetoday.com/obgyn/infertility/3144 (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- BabyCentre. Fertility Drugs For Women. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a4090/fertility-drugs-for-women. (Accessed May 2016) ↩
- ConceiveEasy. Fertility Drugs: 5 Most Effective. http://www.conceiveeasy.com/get-pregnant/fertility-drugs/ (Accessed May 2016) ↩