Review of Prescription Fertility Medications & Non-Prescription Fertility Supplements
Prescription Drugs for Infertility / Ovulation Induction
Women in treatment for infertility issues may use prescription drugs to stimulate their ovaries into producing and releasing ova. This is called ovulation induction - and by altering the chemistry of reproductive hormones, infertility medications may support the development of the ovarian follicle and the release of the egg from the ovarian follicle (ovulation).
Fertility drugs are categorized under two rubrics: oral or injectible. Clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene) falls into the first category. The latter category, called gonadotropins (PergonalR, HumegonR, RepronexR, FollistimR, Gonal-FR ), are injectible drugs designed to stimulate the ovary to produce many follicles each cycle. These medications can be combined with intercourse, intrauterine insemination, or in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Clomid: Clomiphene citrate (brand name Clomid, Serophene) is used to induce ovulation. Clomiphene citrate is an orally administered medication. Clomiphene citrate appears to act on the hypothalamus and is useful for women who do not ovulate due to hypothalamic or pituitary problems. Given early in the menstrual cycle (day three to day seven), it suppresses the amount of naturally circulating estrogen. This "tricks" the pituitary into producing more follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones then stimulate the ovary to ripen a follicle and release an egg (ovulate). Of patients who are properly screened for use of this drug, about 70 percent will ovulate, and 40 percent of those will become pregnant. Clomid is not for everyone, so proper screening and diagnosis is vital. Do not assume you need clomid simply because your cycle is irregular.
Follistim: Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is a naturally occurring hormone. FSH is important in the development of follicles (eggs) produced by the ovaries. Follistim is used to stimulate a follicle (egg) to develop and mature. It is used when a woman's ovaries can produce a follicle but hormonal stimulation is not sufficient to make the follicle mature. Follistim is also used to stimulate the development of multiple eggs for in vitro fertilization. Follistim can be used by men to increase the production of sperm as well. Follistim may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide; as with all prescription fertility medications, there are contraindications and potential issues and proper screening before prescription is imperative.
Metformin: Metaformin is often used to treat infertility in women who have not achieved pregnancy using drugs like Clomid. Metaformin is used as a therapy for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and anovulation. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a common cause of anovulation and infertility. Women with PCOS fail to ovulate regularly, and exhibit irregular or non-existent menstrual cycles. Metformin has been used to treat diabetes in the past. Recently, it has been discovered that Metformin can facilitate ovulation in some women with PCOS. Metformin may be prescribed alone or in conjunction with clomiphene citrate (clomid).
There are currently two leading non-prescription fertility supplements: FertilAid and Fertilityblend. Both supplement brands offer a men and women's formula and are formulated by medical professionals and nutritionists, with proprietary vitamins/herbal formulas validated by clinical studies and established scientific research. Both FertilAid and Fertilityblend for women contain vitex (chastetree berry, vitex agnus-castus). Studies on vitex yield impressive results in increasing a woman's chances to conceive. Both FertilAid and Fertilityblend for women offer vitamins formulations as well, and include folic acid, a vitamin that has been shown to decrease the risk of birth defects.
According to Jill Stansbury, N.D., the herbs most commonly used to promote fertility include:
Before using any herbal tinctures or herbal medications, do consult with your doctor. Also, as the makers of FertilAid and Fertilityblend indicate, do not take any herbal fertility medications while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.