If you have been evaluated for fertility and have undergone or considered treatment for infertility, you have probably been told about some fertility medications that you “should take to improve your chance of getting pregnant.”
Taking fertility medication, or even thinking about taking it, can be a daunting process. While we may feel comfortable taking herbal supplements or vitamins that are in a pill, taking a “prescribed medicine” in a pill can seem scary. Often those fertility drugs have complex names making them complicated to pronounce, let alone trust what’s inside it. They can often have a list of terrifying potential side effects; or even be listed as a treatment for non-fertility diseases like breast cancer!
Here’s what you need to know:
While new fertility medications are constantly being tested and made available for patients, most fertility medications have been around for decades. They have been extensively studied and when used by trained physicians in an appropriate setting, are incredibly safe and effective.
Let’s review some of the most common fertility medications:
Oral fertility medications like clomid and letrozole have been around since the 1960s. Both medications trick the body into thinking that ovaries aren’t growing healthy eggs. The body responds by sending a stronger message in the form of the hormone FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) to the ovary to grow an egg or eggs. The nice thing about those medications is that it is still the body sending the message to grow those eggs; with very natural hormones produced by the body.
Injectable fertility medications
Injectables are the next major category. These seem scarier since not only do you receive an injection to get the medicine, you will, most of the time, actually be expected to inject yourself!
The first thing to know about these fertility drugs is what they are. The injectable medicines are actually just very pure forms of the natural hormones that make eggs grow, like FSH and LH. They need to be injected because they are so pure that if they went into your stomach, they would be digested and then not function normally.
Sometimes doctors will also use injectable forms of hCG, the pregnancy hormone to help the eggs mature and be released into the fallopian tube.
While these fertility medications sound scary and using them can seem like a daunting task, you can rest assured that they are safe and effective when used as prescribed. If you have any concerns about taking these medications though, you should speak to your doctor about them.
Original post January 16, 2019
Updated March 24, 2021