Medications for Infertility in Women

Medications for Infertility in Women

This sheet is meant to give you a basic idea of what to expect from medicine. Only the most common side effects are listed. Ask your care team if there are any issues for you. Use medicine as advised by your doctor. Follow instructions given with the medicine. Call your doctor if you aren't sure about your medicine or how to use it.

Infertility medicine may:

  • Encourage ovaries to make more eggs
  • Fix imbalance in hormones

Prescription Medications

Medicines to Help Ovulation

  • Clomiphene citrate
  • Metformin
  • Progesterone
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
  • Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG)
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

Medicines to Help Fix Hormonal Imbalances

  • Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists
  • GnRH antagonists
  • Bromocriptine mesylate

Prescription Medicine

Medicines to Help Ovulation

Clomiphene citrate

Common names are:

  • Clomid
  • Serophene

Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) make the ovaries release eggs. This medicine causes a rise in LH and FSH. It will lead to the release of an egg, known as ovulation. It is taken as a pill. It may be taken for five days. If there is no ovulation or a pregnancy does not occur, then the medicine may need to be repeated with the next menstrual cycle. The second round will usually have a higher dose. Timing the dose is important. You will need to take the pill at the same time every day. If you miss a dose, ask your doctor when to take the next dose. It will only work if the ovary can make some amount of estrogen.

Some side effects are:

  • Hot flashes
  • Migraines
  • Breast pain
  • Vaginal dryness

Metformin

May be used alone or with clomiphene. It may be used if clomiphene alone did not work. It may also be used in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Some side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach distress

Progesterone

This drug is sometimes used to trigger a menstrual period prior to a cycle with clomiphene.

Possible side effects are:

  • Belly pain
  • Nausea
  • Swollen belly

hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), hMG (human menopausal gonadotropin), and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)

Common names are:

  • Profasi, Pregnyl, Ovidrel
  • Pergonal, Humegon
  • Follistim, Gonal F

Both hCG and hMG are hormones found in the body. The make an egg mature and help it release from the ovary. hCG works like LH. hMG works like both LH and FSH. They are given as shots in a large muscle. Some forms of hMG may be injected under the skin.

hCG is often given as a single injection during a treatment cycle. hMG may be given for 10 days or more. The drugs may need to changed based on levels of estrogen in the blood.

FSH may be given for five days. Women with PCOS may be treated with FSH longer.

Some side effects are:

  • Injection site pain
  • Lower belly pain (this must be reported to your doctor)
  • Fluid retention, breast pain
  • Headache
  • Emotional irritability

Medications to Help Fix Hormonal Imbalances

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists

Common names are:

  • Lupron
  • Synarel

GnRH is a hormone found in the body. GnRH agonists are a version of these hormones. They stop the release of pituitary hormones. It helps to control the ovulation cycle during treatment. They may be given as an injection, nasal spray, or implants.

Some side effects are:

  • Hot flashes, night sweats, headaches
  • Emotional irritability
  • Lower belly pain

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists

Common names are:

  • Antagon
  • Cetrotide

GnRH antagonists prevent the release of LH and FSH. It is used to manage the timing of ovulation.

Some side effects are:

  • Belly pain
  • Headache

Bromocriptine mesylate

Common names are:

  • Parlodel
  • Ergoset

This drug is used by women who have high levels of prolactin. High levels can cause problems with menstrual cycles. It can also stop ovulation. The drug is taken as a pill. It needs to be taken with food one to three times a day. Regular periods will start when prolactin levels are back to normal. It can take six to eight weeks to see effects.

Some side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Tingling in hands and feet

Special Considerations

If you are taking medicine:

  • Take your medicine as advised. Don't change the amount or schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could happen. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicine can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one, including over the counter products and supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills.

References:

Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated November 6, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Patient history taking: major systems of the body. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscoh.... Updated March 30, 2018. Accessed December 31, 2018.
Treating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated October 2017. Accessed January 2, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 1/2/2019

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