Medications for Infertility in Women

Infertility medicine may be given to:

  • Encourage the ovaries to make more eggs
  • Fix hormone imbalances

Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only common problems with them are listed:

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 happen, 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. The pill will need to be taken at the same time every day. It will only work if the ovary can make some amount of estrogen.

Problems may be:

  • Hot flashes
  • Migraines
  • Breast pain
  • Vaginal dryness

Metformin

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

Problems may be:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upset

Progesterone

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

Problems may be:

  • 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. They 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 shot during a treatment cycle. hMG may be given for 10 days or more. The drugs may need to be changed based on levels of estrogen in the blood.

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

Problems may be:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Fluid buildup
  • Breast pain
  • Headache
  • Mood swings

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.

Problems may be:

  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Pelvic 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.

Problems may be:

  • Belly pain
  • Headache

Bromocriptine mesylate

Common names are:

  • Parlodel
  • Ergoset

This drug is used by people who have high levels of prolactin. This 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.

Problems may be:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Tingling in the hands and feet

References:

Evaluating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/evaluating-infertility. Accessed November 17, 2021.
Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/infertility-in-women. Accessed November 11, 2021.
Overview of infertility. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gynecology-and-obstetrics/infertility/overview-of-infertility. Accessed November 17, 2021.
Treating infertility. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/treating-infertility. Accessed November 11, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated: 11/11/2021

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