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Understanding Fertility Problems: Improving Ovulation with Medication

Understanding Fertility Problems: Improving Ovulation with Medication

A woman’s fertility hinges on her ability to ovulate. This is when an egg is released from an ovary. If you are not ovulating, you may be given hormone medication to help. Read below to find out how these work.

How Hormone Medication Can Help

Hormones are chemicals that the body makes naturally. Each type of hormone has its own function. In some cases, hormones are used for assisted reproductive treatment (ART). Hormone medication can help:

  • Make more eggs. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes the ovaries to make more mature eggs each month. Normally one egg matures each month. Note that this does not make a woman run out of eggs faster.

  • Trigger ovulation. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is used to cause ovulation. This can help by controlling the timing of when an egg can be fertilized after sex. It may also be used for ART.

  • Adjust levels of other hormones. To help you ovulate, medication may be prescribed to treat:

    • Polycystic ovaries. This is when immature eggs form cysts on the ovaries. This may be caused by an imbalance of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar levels. The cysts then release male hormones that can stop ovulation from happening.

    • High levels of the hormone prolactin. This can stop ovulation from happening.

    • An imbalance of thyroid hormone levels. This can cause problems with fertility. It can also cause miscarriage.

Types of Hormone Medication

This chart shows some hormone medications that can help with fertility. Talk with your doctor about how they work. Be sure you know how and when to use them. You should be aware of the possible side effects. Some medications carry a small but serious risk of enlarged ovaries (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). This needs prompt treatment.

Medication

How It Works

How It Is Taken

Possible Side Effects

Clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene)

Stimulates egg development

Pills

Hot flashes, blurred vision, ovarian cysts, and increased chances of having twins

Follicle stimulating hormone or FSH (Bravelle, Gonal-F, Follistim)

Stimulates the ovaries to produce more mature eggs

Injections

Increased chance of multiple births. Small but serious risk of enlarged ovaries

Human menopausal gonadotropin or hMG (Repronex)

Stimulates egg development

Injections

Increased chance of multiple births. Small but serious risk of enlarged ovaries

Human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG (Ovidrel, Pregnyl, Novarel )

Triggers ovulation

Injections

May aggravate enlarged ovaries when combined with hMG or FSH medications

Dopamine agonists (Parlodel, Dostinex)

Decreases prolactin, a hormone that can prevent ovulation

Pills

Nausea, nasal stuffiness, dizziness, and headache

Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid)

Restores thyroid hormones to a normal level

Pills

Nervousness, irritability, headache, insomnia, diarrhea, weight loss, and changes in menstruation

Note: This chart is not a complete list. It does not imply endorsement of any type or brand. It does not show every side effect or reaction. It does not show every precaution or interaction. Only your doctor can recommend or prescribe these types of medication.


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