The Pros and Cons of Fertility Drugs

For some couples who desire children, conceiving isn’t possible without medical help. One of the ways that science has increased the rates of fertilization is through medications made for that express purpose. If your doctor is suggesting that you take fertility drugs in your situation, learn all you can about these drugs before you pursue this route.

What are fertility drugs?
Fertility drugs have been hotly debated over the years. It is time to set the record straight.

Drugs are sometimes used to predict and chart a woman’s time of ovulation. Ovulation is that time in a woman’s menstrual cycle when an egg or eggs are released from the ovary. There is a window of opportunity within that time when pregnancy is likely to occur.

Drugs are also sometimes used to increase the number of eggs produced.  More eggs mean more chance of conception. Typically, a woman releases just one egg during her menstrual cycle.  Increasing this number of eggs improves the chances of the sperm finding an egg to fertilize.

Drugs can also be used in men. When sperm count is low or when sperm is sluggish, drugs may be used to help increase the sperm count and motility, or “moving with purpose.”

Common Fertility Drugs
So, what will your doctor recommend for you? It all depends on what the final infertility diagnosis turns out to be. But, here are a few drugs that your doctor may discuss with you.

  • Clomid – This anti-estrogen drug is also referred to as clomiphene citrate. It is often prescribed to women in order to increase egg production. This drug stimulates testosterone production which may also be used to increase sperm production in some men.
  • Gonal-F – The object of this drug is to copy the effects of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). FSH is one of the hormones that drive meiosis in the ovaries. This process takes immature cells and produces mature eggs.
  • Fertinex – This is similar to Gonal-F, however it is not manufactured in the lab like in Gonal-F. The follicle stimulating hormone used is actual hormone taken from other women.
  • Novarel – This drug mimics another hormone present in the female body, LH or luteinizing hormone. This hormone is responsible for assuring that ovulation occurs each month. It is not actual luteinizing hormone but HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) synthesized from urine of pregnant women.

These drugs do work. They can increase the chances of pregnancy. Even when other techniques fail the first time tried, using fertility drugs along with these alternative methods for conception may increase the chances of conception.

Unfortunately, there can be serious implications. To begin, fertility therapy can be expensive. The cost for each injection or pill may be well outside an average person’s budget.

Many of these drugs involve injections, possibly multiple injections over a period of months – or years.  If you are not comfortable with needles, you might not be up to the challenge. For these injections, it’s a good idea to get regular support and information, including hands-on advice from your doctor or another health professional.  If you need to, visit your doctor’s office each time you have to inject yourself.  If injecting yourself is unthinkable, you’ll need to develop an alternate plan if you intend to proceed with this method of optimizing your fertility.

Many people report very difficult mood swings while using fertility drugs.  You, your doctor, and your partner, need to be in constant contact during this time to build a good support system.  Pumping large amounts of hormones and drugs into your body will naturally cause a reaction, both emotionally and physically.  Talk to your doctor and your partner about what you should both expect to happen.  Get advice from other women who have gone through the same thing.  Build a large support system before you begin fertility drug therapy.

Of course, fertility drugs can lead to multiple pregnancies. If you are ill-prepared for a multiple pregnancy, this is something you will definitely need to discuss in all honesty with your doctor, and partner.  Aside from setting up one crib and the shock of finding out you need three, four, or even more, there are health issues to consider in multiple births. The babies may have extremely low birth weights which can lead to long term health problems, sometimes with fatal results. This is one of the most painful issues of taking fertility drugs – the honest assessment of your ability to handle a possibly grave situation in the midst of all the joy of childbirth.

If you are considering taking fertility drugs, research all of the drugs extensively and discuss each option with your doctor. Be honest with your doctor, partner, and yourself about what you are willing and able to do in order to have a baby.  Explore your options and approach this decision armed with all the necessary information and support you can gather.  Then, when the decision is made, you’ll know you made an informed decision.