When couples have trouble trying to conceive, fertility medication of various types is often the first course of treatment. Read on to find out more about fertility medications and to see if they might be helpful for your fertility problems.
What does Fertility Medication Do?
Infertility in a couple is defined as the inability to get pregnant after a year or more of unprotected sexual intercourse. Most often, infertility in women is caused by problems with egg production and/or ovulation. Medication is the primary treatment for infertility in women. In general, fertility medications work by acting on the hormones that cause and regulate ovulation. There are three basic types of medications that are commonly prescribed, and each works in a slightly different way.
Clomiphene for Infertility
Known under the brand names Clomid and Serophene, the fertility medication Clomiphene is prescribed for women who ovulate rarely or irregularly, especially if they have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Clomiphene is taken orally. It works by stimulating the brain to produce more of the hormones that cause a woman to produce and release eggs. This medication helps 60 to 80% of women who take it to ovulate and roughly 50% will get pregnant as a result of taking the drug.
Gonadotropin for Infertility
Gonadotropin is an injectable fertility medication that is often used if clomiphene is not effective. There are two different kinds: human menopausal gonadotropins contain follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), while urofollitropins contain only FSH. The medication is injected for 7 to 12 days, causing the ovaries to produce several eggs. Human chorionic gonadotropin is then injected to tell the ovaries to release the eggs. Up to 50% of women can get pregnant using these drugs.
Bromocriptine for Infertility
This type of fertility medication is prescribed for ovulation problems caused by a benign tumor on the pituitary gland that secretes a hormone that reduces estrogen level. The medication works by decreasing this hormone. It is taken in oral or vaginal pill form. Bromocriptine is about 90% effective in producing ovulation in women taking it. Sixty-five to 85% of women who ovulate on the drug will get pregnant. Unlike other types of fertility drugs, bromocriptine does not increase the risk of multiple births because it does not stimulate egg production.
Fertility medication can cause many different kinds of side effects, so they should not be used lightly. These can include physical side effects like nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, swelling of the ovaries, breast tenderness, insomnia, and weight gain. They may also cause psychological side effects like depression and irritability. In rare cases, ovarian cysts may develop. In addition, taking fertility drugs increases the chance of having multiple births. The odds of having twins is about 10%. Having three or more fetuses, while rare leads to a higher incidence of miscarriage and other complications.
The development of fertility medications has great benefits for couples that have trouble conceiving. If you are struggling with fertility issues, see your doctor to talk about what fertility treatment is right for you.