Fertility Drugs for Women: Types, Side Effects & Benefits

Fertility Drugs for Women – Benefits & Side Effects

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time now, but not getting the ‘good news’, chances are that you or your partner may have some infertility issues. Upon exploring medical treatment, your doctor may prescribe fertility drugs to increase your chances of conception. These drugs treat specific problems and can help you get pregnant. That said, they may not be completely safe.

This article covers information on fertility drugs for women, their benefits and possible side effects. Read on if you are considering fertility drugs to get pregnant.

What is a Fertility Drug?

The medicine to increase fertility is known as a fertility drug. The fertility meds are used to trigger hormones that release the eggs from the ovary – the process of ovulation.

For What Health Conditions Are Fertility Drugs Used?

Fertility drugs are most commonly prescribed for fertility issues in women. However, they may be used in other health conditions like:

Benefits of Fertility Medicines for Females

Fertility drugs help in a number of ways which are listed below.

  • It increases the production of hormones which help with the reproductive process.
  • The ovulation cycle is regulated by the use of fertility drugs.
  • The fertility drugs contain vitamins and minerals which are required for the development of foetus thereby narrowing the chances of miscarriage.
  • It encourages the ovaries to produce follicles containing eggs. These follicles when they grow help in ovulation.

Disadvantages of Using Fertility Medicines for Women

Unfortunately, women may have to face serious consequences for using fertility drugs. Some of the side effects of fertility medicines are listed below:

1. Mood Swings

While on these drugs, women may suffer from difficult mood swings. This is because all fertility drugs change the hormone levels in the body, specifically that of oestrogen. High doses of oestrogen cause mood swings and depression.

2. Multiple Pregnancies

Multiple pregnancies can be a risk to the mother, as well as the babies. The babies may have a very low birth weight which can lead to long-term health issues and may even prove to be fatal, in some cases.

3. Premature Babies

Multiple births, which are common if fertility drugs are used, can lead to preterm delivery, which causes several complications for the baby when he is born.

4. Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

If the ovary swells up due to the over-reaction of the hormone injections, it could cause OHSS. This condition causes pain, rapid weight gain, less urination, nausea, vomiting, and breathing problems. In serious cases, it could prove to be fatal for the woman.

5. Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy

Fertility drugs increase the risk of Ectopic pregnancy four-fold. This is due to the high levels of estrogen and multiple oocytes.

Tired woman

Common Fertility Drugs Available for Women

There are many fertility drugs available for women in the market. But they should be taken only if you’ve been unable to conceive even after trying for over a year. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following fertility drugs after you’ve reached the one-year mark.

1. Clomiphene Citrate

It is the most common fertility drug available in the market and probably the first fertility drug that your doctor may prescribe to you. The drug is popular because it is fairly inexpensive and helps 80% of the people who take it. Unlike injectable fertility drugs, it is a pill which is easy to take. It is prescribed primarily to women suffering from ovulation problems. It is also given to women diagnosed with PCOS, and also to improve the production of eggs in women who have regular ovulation.

2. Letrozole

It is taken orally to increase progesterone levels, which triggers the brain to produce more Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH) to ovulate more and release more eggs. It helps women with PCOS and to improve the quality of eggs in women with normal ovulation.

3. Human Menopausal Gonadotropin

The drug constitutes two hormones, namely Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormones (LH). Both help the ovaries to produce good quality eggs and also develop the eggs.

4. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin

The drug is available in the form of an injection which helps the eggs to mature. It is prescribed mostly to women suffering from PCOS or to women for whom the drug clomiphene does not work. It is also prescribed in case the woman is undergoing IVF treatment.

5. Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Antagonists

This drug is prescribed for women undergoing Controlled Ovarian Stimulation technique treatment along with IVF. It prevents forced ovulation by suppressing LH and FSH. and permits the eggs to develop only during the time of IVF.

6. Metformin Hydrochloride

Like most fertility drugs, it helps in treating ovulation problems in women suffering from PCOS. It helps to equalise the estrogen level and testosterone level thereby helping the body to ovulate on a regular basis.

7. Bromocriptine

It is a common fertility drug which can be prescribed to women as well as men. It is used to stop the overproduction of the prolactin hormone, which hampers the ovulation process. It is either available as a pill or as vaginal suppositories. In women, it is also used to treat menstrual problems. In men, it helps in cases of low sperm count or low testosterone caused due to high levels of prolactin.

Apart from these, the drug can also be used in treating Parkinson’s disease, to slow down the growth of pituitary tumours, and at times even for type 2 Diabetes.

How Do Fertility Medicines Differ from One Another?

Fertility medicines may differ from each other by their form. Some medicines are available in the form of pills and others in the form of injections. Some of the fertility drugs like Clomiphene may help women with PCOS to ovulate, while some women may respond well to Metformin. For some, a combination of both drugs may work well. Women with high levels of the hormone prolactin will be prescribed Bromocriptine or Cabergoline for the treatment of ovulation problems.

Woman holding pills

Finding the Proper Dose of Fertility Medicine

A proper dose of fertility medicine is important in successfully treating fertility issues in women. The dosage and the type of fertility drug depend on the cause and the severity of the problem. A low dose of medicine may take away your chances of getting a successful result, and a high dose may result in a serious health issue like OHSS.

Fertility drugs are the first line of therapy in treating female infertility. There are many highly beneficial drugs that will help you to conceive. Feel free to talk to your doctor and take the fertility drug prescribed by your doctor. The right fertility drug with the correct dose can help you conceive soon enough.

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