Commonly used fertility drugs
There a number of different types of fertility drugs that you may be recommended by your clinician. Have a look over our list of the most common fertility drugs to see what each one is prescribed for, and what the possible side effects could be.
The list also covers drugs used to give you more control over your treatment cycle
Clomifene citrate (Clomid)
How it is taken: In pill form (one – four tablets a day between day two –six of the cycle).
Effect: Indirectly stimulates ovaries into producing eggs.
What it is for: To stimulate and / or regulate ovulation.
Possible side effects: Hot flushes, mood swings, nausea, breast tenderness, insomnia, increased urination, heavy periods, spots, weight gain. May also increase ovarian cancer risk slightly if taken for over a year.
How it is taken:Tablets with build up of dosage to two – three tablets per day.
Effect: Used in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome, particularly for obese patients.
What it is for: Can stimulate ovulation.
Possible side effects: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, metallic taste, itching, allergic reactions and rarely hepatitis.
Pulsed gonadotrophin-releasing hormone
GnRH (including – Gonadorelin)
How it is taken: Small pump, usually on upper arm, injects pulses into bloodstream.
Effect: Triggers egg production.
What it is for: Ovulation failure caused by lack of GnRH(used rarely).
Possible side effects: Stomach pains, sickness and nausea, heavy periods, headaches.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Gonal-F, and Puregon Luteinizing hormone (LH), such as Menogon, Menopur and Merional
How it is taken: Injections (one per day). When eggs are mature, you are given an injection of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) hormone to trigger release of an egg(s).
Effect: Stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs.
What it is for: To stimulate ovulation before treatment cycles, or for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) where Clomid hasn’t worked. Also for infertility due to pituitary gland failure and some male infertility.
Possible side effects: Over-stimulation of the ovaries (OHSS); risk of multiple pregnancy when used for ovulation induction, allergic reactions and skin reactions.
For more information on OHSS see:
Drugs to regulate your treatment cycle:
During treatment, your doctor will usually prescribe other drugs for you to take at various times to give more control over your treatment cycle. These may include:
Nafarelin Buserelin and Goserelin
(also know as: Gonadotrophin- releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues or pituitary agonists)
How it is taken: Nasal spray, several times daily, or as daily injections or monthly depo (injected under the skin) before, or at the same time as, fertility drugs.
Effect: Block natural release of hormones that regulate the natural monthly cycle. Produce low levels of FSH, LH and oestradiol.
What it is for: To stop the natural menstrual cycle.
Possible side effects: Hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, vaginal dryness, mood swings, changes in breast size, breakouts of spots, acne and sore muscles.
Cetrotide and Orgalutran – gonadotrophin- releasing hormone antagonists
How it is taken: Daily subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.Given at the same time as FSH injections.
Effect: Unlike the pituitary agonists above, these drugs offer the alternative of blocking the release of FSH and are administered while the ovaries are stimulated to produce eggs in an IVF treatment cycle.
What it is for: Stop ovulation until eggs are ready to be collected as part of the IVF cycle.
Possible side effects: Nausea, headache, injection site reactions, dizziness and malaise.
Progesterone (including Cyclogest, Gestone, Crinone or Progynova)
How it is taken: Either after the injection of the pregnancy hormone, hCG, or on the day embryos are returned to the womb, as a vaginal suppository, a pill, gel or by injection into the buttock.
Effect: May help to maintain pregnancy after IVF or IUI.
What it is for: To thicken the lining of the womb in preparation for nurturing a possible embryo.
Possible side effects: Nausea, vomiting, swollen breasts.
Bromocriptine and Cabergoline
How it is taken: Tablets.
Effect: Reduces high levels of Prolactin hormone.
What it is for: High prolactin can interfere with production of and the affect of FSH. Has a place even in IVF if Prolactin level is high.
Possible side effects: Nausea, headache, constipation, dry mouth, skin reactions, hair loss, lowering of the voice.