Many women struggling to conceive a baby turn to fertility medications for help. Although many fertility medication options successfully promote healthy ovulation and increase the likelihood of conception, these medications can also cause multiple births and unwelcome side effects. Women should always talk to a doctor about potential risks before using any fertility medication.
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Clomiphene encourages the production of the hormones FSH and LH, which stimulate the growth of an ovarian follicle containing an egg. Although doctors often prescribe this medication for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome or other ovulation disorders, the medication improves fertility in normally ovulating women as well, notes MayoClinic.com. This makes the medication a first-line treatment for many cases of unexplained infertility.
Women usually take clomiphene orally in a pill form for five consecutive days in the beginning of their menstrual cycle, and ovulate five to 12 days after taking the last pill. Side effects of clomiphene may include stomach pain, swelling of the ovaries, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision, depression and weight gain. It also may cause ovarian cysts, notes the medical advisory board of BabyCenter.com, but this is rare. Women on clomiphene have a 10 percent chance of conceiving twins.
Unlike clomiphene, gonadotropins work by stimulating the ovary directly. A doctor usually prescribes gondotropins for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a luteal phase defect or who will be undergoing an assisted reproductive technology treatment. They also may prescribe this medication for women who did not respond well to clomiphene. Gondotropins typically cause women to produce several eggs simultaneously. Women take this medication through injections for a period of seven to 12 days in the beginning of their menstrual cycle. Side effects may include abdominal tenderness, fluid retention, bloating and weight gain. Some women may also find it difficult or unpleasant to give themselves injections. Women taking gonadotropins have a 10 to 40 percent of conceiving twins or more.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome often use the medication metformin to normalize insulin levels and make ovulation more likely to occur. When insulin levels become normal and stable, couples can try to conceive naturally or use another fertility intervention to increase the likelihood of conception. Possible side effects of metformin include weakness, mild nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, gas, vomiting, headache or muscle pain, according to Drugs.com.
Doctors usually prescribe bromocriptine for women with ovulation problems due to a benign tumor in the pituitary gland. This medication comes in the form of a pill, and women can take it orally or vaginally. Women may need to take the medication for a few months before the prolactin level is within a normal range and they begin to ovulate normally. Once this occurs, couples can try to conceive naturally or use other fertility interventions. Side effects include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea and headaches. The medical advisory board of BabyCenter.com notes that about 90 percent of women who take bromocriptine ovulate as long as they take the drug, and 65 percent to 85 percent of these women become pregnant.