Pregnancy and Children

Infertility Drugs

Infertility drugs     Infertility drugs

One of the most frequent ways to treat infertility is through medications.

Medicines Frequently Used to Treat Infertility in Women

Given that prescribed drugs are a regular part of infertility treatment in preparing the body for treatment. Your reproductive specialists will evaluate your situation to determine the most appropriate medications for your treatment process.

The following has been adapted from the websites referenced at the bottom of this page.

The Following Medications Are Used in Treating Infertility

Follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH: FSH is given by injection to stimulate follicle growth in the ovaries.  FSH products may be used alone or in combination with hMG to induce superovulation. FSH is available only in an injectable form and you will need to learn injection techniques.

Side effects may include: ovarian enlargement, hyperstimulation syndrome which includes enlarged ovaries, abdominal pain and bloating, multiple gestation, increased incidence of miscarriage and premature delivery, abdominal pain, mood swings and depression, and headache. Discomfort and bruising may occur at the injection site. Monitoring with ultrasounds and estradiol minimizes the risk of complications.

Clomiphene citrate (Seraphene, Clomid): This medicine causes ovulation by acting on the pituitary gland. It is often used in women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or other problems with ovulation. Clomiphene citrate acts as a fertility agent in women by inducing superovulation, i.e. the release of multiple eggs in a given menstrual cycle. This medicine is taken by mouth. The dosage and the days the drug is taken are determined by your physician based on your diagnosis.  Some form of monitoring is necessary while you are taking clomiphene citrate. This monitoring may include ultrasounds, blood estrogen levels, and/or urinary LH testing. Clomiphene citrate is typically prescribed with intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Side effects may include: hot flashes, ovarian enlargement, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, headache, multiple pregnancy, increased incidence of miscarriage, and depression and mood swings.

Synthetic Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): Intramuscular injections used to induce the final maturational changes in the eggs and prepare them for retrieval. There are no known side effects.

Human menopausal gonadotropin or hMG (Repronex, Humegon, Pergonal): This medicine is often used for women who don't ovulate due to problems with their pituitary gland. It acts directly on the ovaries to stimulate ovulation. It is an injected medicine. Potential side effects include the same as noted above for FSH.  Some form of monitoring of the ovarian response is necessary.  HMG is available only in an injectable form.

Side effects may include: ovarian enlargement, hyperstimulation syndrome, and multiple gestation, abdominal pain and headache. Discomfort and bruising may occur at the injection site.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) analog: These medicines are often used for women who don't ovulate regularly each month. Women who ovulate before the egg is ready can also use these medicines. Gn-RH analogs act on the pituitary gland to change when the body ovulates. These medicines are usually injected or given with a nasal spray. Potential side effects include multiple births, mild hyperstimulation which includes enlarged ovaries, abdominal pain, and bloating, headaches and nausea.

Metformin (Glucophage): Doctors use this medicine for women who have insulin resistance and/or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This drug helps lower the high levels of male hormones in women with these conditions. This helps the body to ovulate. Sometimes clomiphene citrate or FSH is combined with metformin. This medicine is usually taken by mouth.

Bromocriptine (Parlodel) and Cabergoline (Dostinex): These are used to reduce the amount of prolactin released by the pituitary in women with ovulation problems due to high levels of prolactin. Potential side effects include nausea, vomiting, nasal congestion, headache, dizziness, fainting, and decreased blood pressure.

The Following Medications Are Used to Prevent Premature Ovulation:

GnRH Agonists (Analogs): There are two types of medications. Lupron and Zoladex are injections given below the skin and Synarel is a nasal spray. These medications are used to enable the body to produce a higher number of quality eggs. These medications are also designed to prevent the mid-cycle hormonal surge which can result in a cancelled cycle. Potential side effects include:

· Hot flashes
· Headache
· Mood swings
· Insomnia
· Vaginal dryness
· Decreased breast size
· Painful intercourse
· Bone loss

GnRH Antagonists: These medications, Antagon and Cetrotide, are injections administered for three to four days. These medications operate as antagonists of the gonadotropin causing the hormone (GnRH) to be released to help prevent premature ovulation. Potential side effects are the same as GnRH.

Other Medications Used to Enhance Fertility Treatments:

Medrol: A steroid provided daily for four days during the cycle to assist with pre-embryo implantation.

Doxycycline: An oral antibiotic provided to the male partner during the female’s stimulation cycle to reduce the levels of bacteria which may be found in semen. This medication is also given to the female partner to decrease the risk of infection after aspiration of the follicles at the time of egg retrieval.

Progesterone: Intramuscular injections provided daily beginning two days after retrieval and finishing when the placenta is creating appropriate amounts of Progesterone. Progesterone may also be administered through a vaginal gel, suppository or in a pill.

Additional Information

American Pregnancy: infertility drugs

UCSF Center for Reproductive Health: Ovulation induction

Wikipedia: Fertility drugs

Infertility resources: infertility drugs

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