Fertility drugs can increase your odds of getting pregnant. Use of these oral or injectable medications may be beneficial when you have an ovulation disorder. However, MayoClinic.com and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, both indicate that sometimes pregnancy and fertility drugs may require complementary therapies to yield success.
Pregnancy and Fertility Drugs
Causes of Infertility
There may be numerous reasons that hinder your ability to conceive. You may not be having sex with your partner at the right time. Sometimes, the health of your partner’s sperm may be called into question. Female infertility is to blame in between 40 and 50 percent of cases when women cannot get pregnant. It may be caused by ovulation disorders in which production of certain hormones is absent or disrupted, damaged fallopian tubes, endometriosis, a narrow or blocked cervix or noncancerous polyps or tumors in the uterus. Sometimes the cause of infertility cannot be explained.
Common Drugs Used
Fertility drugs are the primary treatment for women who suffer from ovulation disorders. These medications have the same effect as follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, and luteinizing hormone, or LH, which cause you to ovulate. Clomiphene citrate is an oral drug that causes your pituitary gland to release these hormones. Gonadotropins are a class of injectable medications that directly stimulate the ovary and are often used in conjunctiion with intrauterine insemination. Metformin, an oral drug, may be appropriate when insulin resistance is the suspected cause of infertility or for women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Letrozole, a treatment for breast cancer, may also be used to trigger ovulation. This drug is used less frequently than others.
Fertility Drug Complications
Fertility drugs aren’t entirely risk-free. Some drugs, especially those that are injected, increase the likelihood that you’ll become pregnant with twins or multiples by up to 20 percent. Carrying more than one fetus increases your risk for going into premature labor. Babies may be born with low birth weights and are more likely to exhibit developmental problems post-birth. Fertility drugs may also increase the size of your ovaries, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as abdominal distention, abdominal pain and shortness of breath that can linger into early pregnancy.
Depending on the cause of infertility, you may need more than one type of treatment, according to the ACOG. Your physician may suggest fertility drugs in combination with surgery or assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization to improve your chance of getting pregnant. Fertility treatment requires a commitment from both you and your partner. The ACOG advises weighing all of your options carefully. Consider adopting a child or living a life with your partner that doesn’t involve parenting.
Herbal fertility supplements are far less expensive that conventional fertility treatments, and it can be tempting to give these a try. However, Mayo Clinic gynecologist and obstetrician Mary Gallenberg points out there’s very little scientific evidence to support the efficacy of herbal remedies in treating infertility in men and women. Herbal supplements are classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as dietary supplements, not drugs, so the safety and effectiveness of these products is not ensured. Dietary supplements cannot purport to treat, prevent or cure any medical problem, including infertility.
Pregnancy and Fertility Drugs: