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Common Fertility Drugs

Fertility drugs fall into three main categories:

  • Clomiphene (Clomid, Serophene) – Most commonly known as Clomid, this is an oral medicine used to stimulate egg production and ovulation. It is prescribed to hyperstimulate the ovaries in preparation for IVF, and to encourage ovulation in women with PCOS. Women taking Clomid have an 80% ovulation rate within the first few months; 40% of these go on to become pregnant. Clomid can increase the likelihood of conceiving multiples.
  • Gonadotropins – These are injectable drugs, usually used when Clomiphene has been unsuccessful in inducing ovulation. They, too, work best when treating PCOS-related fertility problems or in conjunction with IVF. Gonadotropins may consist of one or a combination of hormones that stimulate follicle development and ovulation, as well as encourage the body’s own release of pregnancy hormones. There is a 20-60% rate of success with conception.
  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel) – Doctors prescribe this oral or vaginal medicine to treat a rare type of tumor in the pituitary gland, which slows estrogen production and stops ovulation. Women taking the drug have a 90% chance of ovulation.

Doctors sometimes prescribe Clomiphene or Gonadtropins to the male partner to treat hormonal deficiencies that lead to low sperm production. Despite claims that fertility drugs can increase a woman’s chance of developing ovarian cancer, recent studies have shown this is not the case.

As with any medication, there is a risk of side effects when taking any fertility drug. Hyperstimulation of the ovaries can lead to stomachaches and nausea. Also, women must carefully monitor their cycles and have frequent medical check-ups while taking fertility drugs; this can be exhausting and take an emotional toll.

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