Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Medications for Infertility in Women

This sheet is meant to give you a basic idea of what to expect from medicine here. Only the most common side effects are included. Ask your care team if there are any issues for you. Use medicine as recommended by your doctor. Follow instructions given with the medicine. Contact your doctor if you are unsure about your medicine or instructions for using it.

Infertility medicine may do one of the following:

  • Stimulate ovaries to make more eggs
  • Repair imbalance in hormones

Prescription Medications

Medications to Help Stimulate Ovulation

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

Medications to Help Correct Hormonal Imbalances

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

Prescription Medications

  Medications to Help Stimulate Ovulation

Clomiphene citrate

Common names include:

  • Clomid
  • Serophene

Luteinizing hormone (LH) or follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) make the ovaries release eggs. This medicine causes a surge in LH and FSH. It will lead to the release of an egg, known as ovulation. The drug is taken as a pill. It may be taken for 5 days. The dose may need to be repeated if it does not cause a change. The second round will usually have a higher dose. Timing of 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. Clomiphene will only work if the ovary can make some amount of estrogen.

Possible side effects include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Migraines
  • Breast discomfort
  • Vaginal dryness

Metformin

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

Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach distress

Progesterone

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

Possible side effects include:

  • Belly pain
  • Nausea
  • Swollen belly

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

Common names include:

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

Both hCG and hMG are hormones found in the body. The make an egg mature and stimulate release form the ovary. hCG works like LH. hMG works like both LH and FSH. These drugs 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 5 days. Women with PCOS may be treated with FSH for longer periods of time.

Possible side effects include:

  • Injection site pain
  • Lower belly tenderness (this symptom must be reported to the doctor)
  • Fluid retention, breast tenderness
  • Headache
  • Emotional irritability
  • Hyperstimulation of the ovaries
  • Multiple births
 

Medications to Help Correct Hormonal Imbalances

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists

Common names include:

  • Lupron
  • Synarel

GnRH is a hormone found in the body. GnRH analog are a version of these hormones. These drugs 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.

Possible side effects include:

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

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists

Common names include:

  • Antagon
  • Cetrotide

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

Possible side effects include:

  • Belly pain
  • Headache

Bromocriptine mesylate

Common names include:

  • Parlodel
  • Ergoset

This drug is prescribed for women who have high levels of prolactin. High levels can cause problems with menstrual cycles. It can also stop ovulation. The drug is provided as a pill. It needs to be taken with food 1 to 3 times daily. Regular periods will begin once prolactin levels are brought back to normal. It can take 6 to 8 weeks to see effects.

Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Tingling in hands and feet

Special Considerations

If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take your medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicine can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills as needed.
REFERENCES:

Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116334/Infertility-in-women. Updated December 11, 2017. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Treating infertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Treating-Infertility. Updated March 2015. Accessed May 18, 2017.

Last reviewed September 2018 by Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH  Last Updated: 9/25/2018