Side Effects of Fertility Drugs for Women

Increasing Fertility

Side Effects of Fertility Drugs for Women

The most popular and common treatment for infertility in women is fertility drugs taken either orally or through injection. In fact, fertility drugs are used to complement other kinds of treatments too, including in vitro fertilization (IVF). Unfortunately, fertility drugs come with their own set of woes, with many side-effects resulting from their regular use. As with any treatment pertaining to your health, it doesn’t hurt to get more than one professional opinion and to ask lots of questions so you can fully understand the potential side effects of fertility drugs.

Problems of using Clomid or Serophene

Clomid (clomiphene citrate) and Serophene (brand name of clomiphene) are the most common drugs for fertility. These drugs, in use for the last 40 years, have been found to be quite effective in ensuring normal ovulation by stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs. They are generally used in combination with artificial insemination or assisted reproductive techniques. Clomiphene does not usually cause anything but mild side-effects such as hot flashes, nausea, headache, bloating, breast tenderness and blurred vision. Changes in cervical mucus are also known to occur as a result of use of Clomid. Another possible side-effect is the increased likelihood of multiple births.

Side-effects of injectables

When Clomid fails to improve fertility, doctors may prescribe other drugs to be injected alongside it.

These include Human Chorionic Gonadotropic (hCG) such as:

  • Novarel
  • Ovidrel
  • Pregnyl
  • Profasi

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) such as

  • Bravelle
  • Fertinex
  • Follistim
  • Gonal-F

and Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (hMG) such as

  • Menopur
  • Metrodin
  • Pergonal
  • Repronex

Other fertility drug options available to women are Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) such as

  • Factrel
  • Lutrepulse

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonist (GnRH agonist) such as

  • Lupron
  • Synarel
  • Zoladex

and Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Antagonist (GnRH antagonist) such as

  • Antagon
  • Cetrotide

Since these drugs are given as injectables, they tend to cause infections, blood blisters and bruising at the injection site, which may be the stomach, upper arm, upper thigh or buttocks. Increased chances of multiple births, leading to higher risks for both the mother and the child, are also a side-effect of these drugs.

Infant abnormalities, greater chances of miscarriage, preterm delivery, hypertension, bleeding and other complications tend to occur due to increase in the number of fetuses implanted in the uterus.

Among the more serious effects of injectables is Ovarian Hyperstimulation (enlargement and tenderness of the ovaries). Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) usually leads to enlargement of ovaries and accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. Though some discomfort results from such enlargement, it does not normally lead to any complications.

In a few cases, however, OHSS takes a severe form, causing rapid weight gain, blood clots, dehydration, dysfunction of the kidney, ovarian torsion, as well as fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen. Though rare, death can also result in some cases. Regular monitoring through hospitalization is usually required in the case of OHSS.

Some initial research has also indicated a link between injectable fertility drugs and ovarian or other types of cancer. Such drugs can also lead to tubal pregnancy occurring at the same time as the normal pregnancy inside the uterus. Surgery is required to remove the ectopic pregnancy while ensuring the safety of the intrauterine pregnancy.

Side-effects of other fertility drugs

Drugs like Aspirin, Heparin, Antagon, Parlodel and Dostinex are also used to treat specific infertility related problems such as minimizing the risk of miscarriage, preventing premature ovulation in women undergoing fertility procedures and reducing the size of a pituitary tumor.

These drugs also have certain side-effects, which may include stomach pain, headache and even fetal death in some cases. Dizziness and stomach problems may also result from the intake of these drugs.

Tackling the side-effects

These physical side-effects, coupled with the psychological and emotional impact of fertility drugs, can cause a lot of discomfort among women keen to conceive. There are, however, several ways to reduce such discomfort.

One way of preventing stomach upsets is to take your pills with food, which helps offset some of the effect of the pill. Placing bromocriptine directly in your vagina can also be useful in negating its side-effects. This works by allowing the drug to enter your bloodstream without going through your liver. It’s the liver which is the root of side-effects such as nausea and diarrhea.

To avoid injuries at the site of an injection, try placing an ice-bag next to your skin first and, after the injection, warm the area. This can help in alleviating pain and preventing bruising. Ovarian swelling, which normally gets reflected in nausea, bloating and discomfort in the belly, can be treated with painkillers such as paracetamol or codeine.

Drinking a lot of water also helps control bloating by keeping the body hydrated as fluid intake is known to help in treating many of the uncomfortable side-effects of these drugs.

Conclusion

Besides these physical problems, you may also suffer insomnia, mood swings, irritability, allergic reactions such as difficulty in breathing and tightness in the chest while taking fertility drugs.  You may also suffer from swelling on your lips, mouth or tongue. It would be beneficial to take your doctor’s advice on the possible side-effects you need to look out for while taking any of these fertility drugs.

Though usually mild and easily manageable, the side-effects of fertility drugs can occasionally be serious enough to warrant medical treatment.  One such major side-effect of fertility drugs is OHSS, which requires medical intervention from the outset.

Close and regular monitoring can help in keeping a check on the side-effects and ensuring that the problems arising out of them don’t get out of hand.

Given the various side effects of fertility drugs, it’s best to opt for the natural remedies suggested by Lisa Olson in her Pregnancy Miracle video and e-book.

2 Comments

  1. Amazingly well-written and entertaining for a free digital
    article! I am grateful for this share!

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