What is Clomid and How does it Work
One of the most common causes of infertility is ovulation disorders. Most women will ovulate, or release an egg, once a month but others ovulate irregularly or maybe even not at all. Of course if you do not ovulate regularly, it is that much harder to get pregnant. One way fertility specialists can help women ovulate is with fertility treatment pills. This is called ovulation induction and it may be done for two reasons. The first is to help women who do not ovulate on a regular basis ovulate. The second is to help women who are already ovulating release more than one egg to increase their chances of pregnancy.
The two most commonly used medicines for ovulation induction are clomiphene citrate (clomid) and letrozole. Clomid works by making the brain think estrogen levels are low so in response, the brain starts to stimulate the ovary to make estrogen (the ovary makes estrogen by growing an egg). Letrozole works by lowering estrogen levels in the blood which, similar to clomid, stimulates the brain to start stimulating the ovary to make estrogen (and grow an egg).
Like any medication, clomid and letrozole have possible side effects. The most common include hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, breast discomfort or tenderness, nausea, bloating, and headaches. The most common risk with these pills however is multiple pregnancy. The chance of twins is 5%-8%; the chance of triplets or more is less than 1%. Importantly, there is no link between these medicines and ovarian cancer and there is no known increase in birth defects in women who have taken these medicines to induce ovulation.
The best way to tell how a patient is responding to these medications is by doing transvaginal ultrasounds to image the ovaries. With the start of your menstrual cycle, a patient comes in for a baseline ultrasound. After the ultrasound, the patient gets a prescription to take these fertility pills for 5 days and then a week later the patient will come back into the office for another ultrasound. By looking at your ovaries and uterus on ultrasound, we can see how you responded to the pills, how many eggs are growing and will ovulate, if the uterine lining is good enough for implantation, and when would be the right time for ovulation. With ovulation, some patients would like to try timed intercourse while others would prefer intrauterine insemination, or IUI.
The success of these medicines depends on many factors. Pregnancy rates depend on age, the length of infertility, and importantly, the cause of infertility. These medicines are generally more effective in women who do not ovulate regularly. In women who already ovulate, pregnancy rates tend to be lower especially if the medicines are not combined with other treatments like insemination.
Reproductive Health and Wellness Center is a fertility clinic located in Orange County, CA. We combine innovative fertility treatments like IVF & IUI with wellness solutions like yoga & acupuncture. For more information on fertility pills or clomid specifically call our office at 949-516-0606 to speak to a fertility specialist.