There are several popular fertility drugs available in the marketplace today. They are:
• Clomid® (generic: clomifene citrate)
• metformin hydrochloride
All fertility drugs have some good points and some not so good points.
But, the only one that I’m actually going to specifically discuss here is clomifene citrate which is marketed under the brand name Clomid®.
Clomifene citrate is the most prescribed fertility drug.
It is used to treat both male and female fertility problems.
In this article, I’m actually focusing on female infertility so I’m just going to brush over fertility problems in men. I’m just starting this website so I’ll post a comprehensive male fertility-related article sometime in the next 3 months.
Some men do need fertility treatments. And, most of the time men are given some of the same medications as women.
The answer may seem counter intuitive but is none the less true…
… Men and women have quite similar hormonal make up. Ignoring the genetics, it’s more a difference in the ratios of the various “sex” hormones (initially progesterone, testosterone, estrogen but others are produced later in life) and their affect upon the glands involved, that determines how your body looks and functions.
So, if you give a guy a “pill” that will change the balance of the correct sex hormones, you will affect the testicles production of sperm rather than the ovaries release of eggs if you gave the same pill to a female… (Please, no hate e-mail! I am simplifying and generalizing to hopefully make an incredibly complex biological process understandable for non-scientifically oriented individuals.). The timing and dosage may be different, though, depending upon which fertility drug is being administered and the sex of the individual being given the drug.
There are very few studies of male fertility treatment results but the literature that I’ve reviewed indicated that the success rates are fairly low.
When I get the male fertility article completed, I’ll put a link in this section.
What I want to talk about here is that when you use fertility drugs, you also run the risk of birth defects in your child and a significantly large increase in the chance of ovarian cancer in you. But first, let’s talk about how fertility drugs work in women.
How Female Fertility Drugs Work
Fertility drugs generally work on females by stimulating your ovaries to release mature eggs.
To do that, the fertility drug will force your body to ripen one or more eggs. To make that happen, your pituitary gland is signaled to start producing FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) which causes your eggs to mature in your ovaries. Then, when ripe they will be released. This release is again signaled to and caused by a pituitary hormone known as Luteinizing Hormone (LH)). The released egg will then pass through the fallopian tubes and on into uterus.
In a healthy, normal situation, fertilization will generally occur in the fallopian tube and then the fertilized egg will enter the uterus and become attached to the uterine wall.
Ovarian Cancer Reported
For instance, the New England Journal of Medicine, in their 22 September, 1994 Edition, reported on a study which reviewed the medical records of 3,837 women who took Clomid® a brand name fertility drug, and similar fertility drugs in Seattle, Washington, between 1974 and 1985.
The study reported that the group of women evaluated had an almost 3-times increase in the occurrence of ovarian cancer in women in who took those fertility drugs.
Other studies have indicated that birth defects are a definite concern when using fertility drugs.
Serious Birth Defects Reported
And, you, as a mother, are not the only one at risk.
According to a study (“Use of clomiphene citrate and birth defects, National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997-2005”) conducted by the U.S. Government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), significant birth defects have been observed in babies conceived through the use of clomiphene citrate. Clomiphene citrate is the generic equivalent of Clomid®.
Some of the defects observed in the CDC’s Study were:
o Anencephaly – A significant portion of the brain is missing.
o Septal heart defects – The wall or septum between the left and right side of the heart has a hole(s) in it.
o Coarctation of the aorta – A narrowing of the aorta after the blood vessels branch off to the head, neck and arms.
o Esophageal atresia – A blocked off or completely closed esophagus which is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. The esophagus usually ends in a pouch before it reaches the stomach.
o Craniosynostosis – In this condition the junctions between the different plates of an infant’s skull grow together permanently, usually before birth. Can cause a misshapen head.
o Omphalocele – The intestines or other abdominal organs stick out of the baby’s abdomen through a hole in the area of the belly button.
The study also reported that the following occurred in a small number of births:
o Dandy-Walker malformation – The back part of the brain (the cerebellum) doesn’t develop correctly so it is malformed.
o Muscular ventricular septal defect – This condition is also known as a Trabecular ventricular septal defect. It is similar to the Septal heart defects mentioned above.
o Cloacal exstrophy – The organs of the abdomen (bladder and intestines) are exposed. Sometimes the genital are split longitudinally.
As couples exhaust their fertility drug options they will then usually move on to IVF treatments.
If you and your spouse are still investigating (as opposed to getting the answer to a specific question) I recommend a book you can probably find in your local book store or, save yourself time and a hassle and just get it from Amazon. Its called “Infertility Survival Handbook” and was written by Elizabeth Swire-Falker. It was originally published in 2004 so it has withstood the “test of time.” It is available in both Kindle and traditional editions.