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What You Need to Know about Fertility Drugs

Learn what you need to know about fertility drugs in this Howcast video about infertility.


Couples who see their fertility physician will often be prescribed certain medications to help them become pregnant. The medications that are given really depend on the what the condition is that is being treated. For example, women who have problems with ovulation may first be treated with certain oral medications, which many women have heard of including Clomid or letrozole. These medications may be used to make the brain stimulate the ovaries. So what they do is they work indirectly. They kind of trick the brain into believing estrogen levels are very low, and so the brain responds by releasing certain hormones to induce ovulation.

These medications can be very effective in those women who have ovulation dysfunction as the sole cause of infertility. Many couples, however, have much more complicated histories. Not only is it an ovulation dysfunction, but there are also times in which there's Fallopian tube disease or male factor infertility or uterine abnormalities.

In cases in which we need multiple eggs, then we use medications that are a lot stronger than Clomid or letrozole. The medications we now resort to are called gonatropins. These are medications that are the same hormones that the brain naturally makes, but in much higher doses. The goal is try to get multiple follicles to develop. Follicles in the ovaries are the structures that contain the eggs, and these medications specifically stimulate the follicles to grow. These medications can be human products, that is products derived from human beings particularly from the urine and concentrated, or they can be synthetic medications. Some of the medications you might have heard of include Gonal-f or Follistim, Menopur, Bravelle, Repronex. These are just some of the medications that are used.

These injections are given by injection under the skin in order to stimulate the ovaries. It is very important that they are given only under the direction of a reproductive endocrinologist. The reason why is because if these medications are poorly used, they may result in overstimulation of the ovaries, which can be medically dangerous.

They also should be used by someone seasoned and experienced with multiple pregnancy risks. Giving these medications in doses that are too high can result in the ovulation or the release of multiple eggs, causing some women to be at great risk of pregnancies, including triplet, quadruplet, and more. So it's very important that the medications are properly utilized and under the direct supervision of the reproductive endocrinologist.

There are many medications used for the treatment of infertility. It's very important you receive proper care under the direct supervision of a reproductive endocrinologist.

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