Alayne Ronnenberg, ScD
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea of what to expect from each of these medications. Only the most common side effects are included. Ask your healthcare provider if there are any precautions specific for you. Use each of these medications as recommended by your healthcare provider and according to the instructions provided with the medication. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your healthcare provider.
You may be given medications that stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs. The likelihood of multiple births is increased with these medications
Medications to Help Stimulate Ovulation
Medications to Help Correct Hormonal Imbalances
Common names include:
This drug can help when
is caused by ovulatory problems, such as inadequate secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) or FSH. Clomiphene citrate causes a surge in LH and FSH release by the brain that ultimately stimulates ovulation. The drug is taken orally as a tablet, usually for 5 days. If ovulation does not occur, the regimen may be repeated, usually with a higher dose. Timing of the dose is important, so you’ll probably be advised to take the tablet at the same time every day. If you miss a dose, contact your healthcare provider to determine when to take the next dose. The ovary must be producing some level of estrogen if clomiphene is to work successfully.
Possible side effects include:
This drug is sometimes used in combination with clomiphene in women polycystic ovarian syndrome.
This drug is sometimes used in combination with clomiphene to trigger a period prior to a cycle with clomiphene. Progesterone will only stimulate a period if the ovary is producing estrogen.
Both hCG and hMG are naturally occurring hormones that work by inducing maturation of the ovarian follicle and release of a mature egg. hCG works like LH, and hMG has activities of both LH and FSH. Both drugs are provided as intramuscular injections, although more purified forms of hMG may be injected under the skin. hCG is usually provided as a single injection during a fertility treatment cycle. hMG may be given for 10 days or more. Blood levels of estrogen and other reproductive hormones may be monitored throughout treatment, and dosages of the drugs may be adjusted accordingly. FSH may also be provided directly as an injection usually for five days. Women whose infertility is related to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may be treated with FSH for longer periods of time.
GnRH analogs are synthetic versions of naturally occurring hormones. These drugs suppress secretion of pituitary hormones, which prevents premature ovulation and helps control ovulatory cycles during fertility treatment. They may be given by injection, nasal spray, or implants.
Like the GnRH analogs, they also suppress release of LH and, to a lesser extent, FSH. This activity delays the LH surge and ovulation, which is useful in synchronizing ovulatory cycles during fertility treatment.
This drug is prescribed for women who have elevated levels of the pituitary hormone prolactin. Although prolactin is important during lactation, high levels can cause irregular menstrual cycles, suppress ovulation, and interfere with fertility. The drug is provided as a tablet, which is taken with food 1-3 times daily. When prolactin levels are normalized, regular periods usually begin within 6-8 weeks.
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
Fritz MC, Speroff L.
Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinolgy and Infertility. Section IV: Infertility. 8th ed. New York, NY: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2011.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116334/Infertility-in-women. Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Treating-Infertility. Accessed January 7, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
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