In the following brief post, retired pharmacist and women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm offers information on the most common infertility treatment medications.
Clomiphene citrate: According to Marla Ahlgrimm, clomiphene citrate, which is sold under the brand names Clomid and Serophene, are typically prescribed with a starting dosage of 50 mg each day. Over the course of three to six menstrual cycles, this medication is expected to increase the amount of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in a woman’s pituitary gland. Potential side effects include increased risk of multiple births and miscarriage. Hot flashes, headaches, and mood swings are also common.
Synthetic human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): Sold under multiple brand names, hCG is given as an intramuscular injection and is used to trigger ovulation. Marla Ahlgrimm reports it is often a second step when prior medications to induce ovulation have failed. There are currently no known side effects of taking this medication by itself.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): While clomiphene citrate is used to stimulate FSH production, FSH may also be given as a subcutaneous injection. (Marla Ahlgrimm explains that subcutaneous injections are those given under the skin.) This medication bypasses the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to directly trigger follicle growth within the ovaries. Bravelle and Follistim are the two most common brand names of this medication. Common side effects include potential for multiple births, miscarriage and/or premature delivery, rash at injection site, breast tenderness, mood swings, and hyperstimulation syndrome.
Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG): Sold under the brand names Repronex and Menopur, hMG is a compound of luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormones. It is given to women to trigger the release of multiple eggs during the menstrual cycle. hMG carries the same side effects as FSH medications.
Marla Ahlgrimm notes that infertility is different for women of different ages. Women under 35 are considered infertile if they have unsuccessfully tried to conceive over a period of 12 months; women over the age of 35 are diagnosed with infertility after six months of unsuccessful sexual activity.