Learn about Fertility Medications
Fertility or Ovulation Induction Medications stimulate the development and release of the eggs from your ovaries.
Ovulation induction medications, commonly called fertility drugs, may be used to stimulate the follicles in your ovaries to produce multiple eggs in one cycle. Sexual intercourse and/or intrauterine insemination (IUI) may then be scheduled around the time of ovulation to achieve a pregnancy. These medications may also be used to control when you ovulate (release eggs) so that procedures such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization can be performed. Several kinds of fertility drugs are available, and it may take a few cycles to determine the treatment that works best for you.
Medications that stimulate follicle (egg) development
Clomiphene citrate (Clomid¨, Serophene¨) - in tablet form, this medication may be used if you have infrequent periods or long menstrual cycles. The most common side effects are headaches, blurred vision, and hot flashes. Contact your doctor if you experience pelvic pain.
Repronexª (menotropins for injection, USP), Pergonal¨ Humogenª- these injectable medication may be prescribed if treatment with clomiphene was not effective. It is also used to produce multiple eggs to treat unexplained infertility before in vitro fertilization. Repronexª contains both FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). The most common side effect is enlarged ovaries, which can cause abdominal pain. A rare but serious side effect is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). [See the Q&A for symptoms of OHSS.]
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) - is an injectable medication. It is prescribed if treatment with clomiphene was not effective, especially for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Injectable medications may also be used in combination with clomiphene citrate. It is also used to produce multiple eggs before in vitro fertilization. The most common side effect is enlarged ovaries, which can cause abdominal pain. OHSS is a rare but serious side effect. FSH is available in a natural form (Fertinexª) or a synthetic form (Follistimª and Gonal-F¨).
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) - is an injectable medication used to cause ovulation (release of the egg) once your follicles are developed and your eggs are mature. HCG is used to induce ovulation for in vitro fertilization as well as intrauterine insemination.
GnRH analogs (leuprolide, Lupron¨; nafarelin, Synarel¨) - these medications are usually used with Repronexª or FSH and HCG so that your doctor can control every step of your follicle growth and ovulation. Leuprolide is given by injection; nafarelin comes as a nasal spray. Common side effects include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, headache, insomnia, mood swings, and reduced libido. However, these side effects generally subside when you begin Repronexª or FSH.
Q: Why do I have to see my doctor so often?
A: Your doctor must monitor you closely to make sure that your follicles are developing properly and evaluate when you will be ready to ovulate. Your doctor will also be checking for possible side effects.
Q: What are the risks of ovulatory induction medications?
A: These medications may increase your chance for multiple births - which may increase the risks of miscarriage and premature delivery. Another risk is the development of ovarian cysts. A rare but serious side effect from treatment with menotropins and FSH is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Symptoms may include severe pain in the pelvis, abdomen, and chest, nausea, vomiting, bloating, weight gain, and difficulty breathing. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. Dehydration may also occur increasing the risk of a blood clot.
For more information on fertility drugs, please call 1-888-761-1967 or schedule an appointment for an initial consultation with one of our physicians.