If information on fertility medication seems like a foreign language, leaving you frustrated and confused, you are not alone. Designed in a format only a specialist doctor can decipher, descriptions of these drugs often drive feelings of desperation and despair
Our easy-to-understand factsheet provides you with everything you need to know about the most commonly prescribed fertility medications. If only everything in life came with a factsheet!
Mimic Follicle Stimulating Hormone and/or Luteinizing Hormone
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) are naturally produced by the female brain and have a major role in the monthly menstruation cycle. Together these hormones stimulate ovarian follicle growth, with individual follicles each containing one egg. FSH and LH promote the follicle production of estrogen and ensure eggs reach maturity. Large levels of LH result in the rupturing of a follicle, allowing ovulation to occur.
Fertility drugs designed to mimic the effects of FSH may be issued, although in some cases are prescribed in addition to medications imitating both FSH and LH. Alternatively, you may use a drug duplicating the follicle rupture brought on with the increased levels of LH. Taken in tablet form or by injection, these treatments require careful monitoring.
Regulation and Control of Treatment Cycle
In preparation for cycles of IVF treatment Gonadotropin Hormone Releasing (GnRH) agonists and antagonist medications are commonly used. These drugs have the ability to reduce and prevent the brain from producing FSH and LH. During IVF cycles these otherwise essential hormones could interfere with the treatment. Paralysing production of FSH and LH provides the doctor with increased cycle control and predictability.
GnRH agonists and antagonist drugs come in the form of a nasal spray or injections. The injections are sometimes subcutaneous and administered on a daily or monthly basis. Nasal sprays are often taken multiple times throughout the day.
Progesterone in Pregnancy Preparation and Post-pregnancy
Naturally, after ovulation occurs the ruptured follicle, also known as the corpus luteum produces progesterone. Progesterone thickens the lining of the womb, preparing for the possibility of pregnancy. In cases of successful embryo implantation, progesterone production will continue with the purpose of sustaining successful pregnancy.
Prescribing a progesterone product in advance of embryo implantation is common during IVF treatment. Additionally, when taken throughout the first trimester, progesterone can contribute to protecting and preserving pregnancy. Variations of this drug are available as a gel, tablet, injection or suppository.
Pre-existing Fertility Related Conditions
Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome can create challenges when it comes to conception. Thankfully medications are available to reduce symptoms and improve fertility. Treatment options differ depending on the diagnosis, but discussions with your doctor can help decide what’s best for you.
Side-effects of Fertility Medication
Fertility medications come with possible side effects with the most common including dizzy spells, increased appetite, mood swings, acne, higher frequency of urination, stomach-ache, bloating, hot flushes and sore or swollen breasts. While you may not incur any of these unwanted side-effects, there is also the possibility of experiencing several. As your body becomes accustomed to these drugs, negative reactions will reduce. Seek medical attention in the unlikely event of strange or severe reactions.