Ovulation induction medication facts
- Ovulation is a critical component of conception but any number of conditions can hamper the body’s ability to ovulate effectively.
- Ovulation induction is the use of hormonal medications such as Clomid and Femara to stimulate a woman’s production and release of eggs in order to get pregnant.
- These medications can help women who do not ovulate (anovulation) — as well as those who may experience more subtle problems with ovulation — to produce more than one mature egg per cycle.
- Side effects of ovulation drugs may include headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches or pains.
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What is ovulation induction?
Ovulation is a critical component of conception, but sometimes this natural process needs a little help from medications.
In fact, one of the most common causes of female infertility is irregular or absent ovulation. A number of medical reasons can cause this problem, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
The use of ovulation drugs has become a basic element of fertility treatments. Medication can be employed by itself or as an element of other assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF and intrauterine insemination (IUI).
Each patient is different, so fertility doctors will use a comprehensive medical history and perform diagnostic testing to determine if and why a woman is struggling to ovulate. Using this information, a reproductive specialist can determine which medication is most likely to help a woman ovulate and find pregnancy success.
Who should consider ovulation medication for fertility treatment?
- Individuals experiencing unexplained fertility.
- Women with irregular/absent ovulation.
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) related infertility.
- Individuals undergoing IUI (intrauterine insemination) fertility treatment or IVF treatment. With IVF, however, injectable ovulation medications are more frequently prescribed.
Oral fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation
Fertility drugs are used to regulate or stimulate ovulation for women struggling to get pregnant or undergoing fertility treatment. There several fertility medications that can help, including oral and injectable drugs. Below are fertility pills that may be prescribed by fertility doctors at Dallas IVF.
Clomid or serophene
Clomid (also known as clomiphene citrate, milophene or serophene) is an oral pill to induce ovulation. This medication can help a woman develop a follicle and ovulate a mature egg. Another byproduct of the increase in maturing eggs: increased progesterone production, which builds a strong uterine lining for a fertilized egg. In addition to boosting ovulation, Clomid can also be used to test ovarian reserve levels.
Clomid therapy can be combined with either timed intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI). As a fertility treatment, clomiphene citrate is usually used for a maximum of six months.
This medication is generally well-tolerated, but its side effects may include hot flashes, nausea, pregnancy with twins (10%) and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), in rare cases.
Femara or letrozole
Femara (also known as letrozole) is another oral medication to induce ovulation. For patients with PCOS, letrozole is the first-line choice to stimulate ovulation.
It works in much the same way as Clomid, suppressing estrogen which then stimulates the ovarian follicles to mature, triggering ovulation.
Femera or letrozole can be used in conjunction with timed intercourse or IUI. While initially developed as a breast cancer treatment drug, studies show letrozole has comparable pregnancy rates to Clomid and fewer side effects. However, it rarer cases it may also decrease bone mineral density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Fertility drug risks and considerations
Stimulating ovulation with oral fertility drugs carries some risks, all of which are discussed with each patient before and during treatment. These risk include:
- Hot flashes.
- Mood changes.
- Upset stomach, vomiting or nausea.
- Pregnancy with twins or other multiples., which carry a greater risk of premature labor, low birth weight and pregnancy complications.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which causes swollen and painful ovaries.