Published by Hera Fertility
December 20, 2023
Infertility is a deeply personal and often isolating experience. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 17% of couples — that’s one in six — worldwide experience fertility issues.
Many different factors can contribute to difficulties in conceiving, such as age and hormonal imbalances. Sometimes the issue is unexplained.
But there’s hope in the form of two fertility medications, which have been helping couples conceive for years: Clomid and Letrozole.
If it’s been taking a while to get pregnant or you’ve started looking into fertility treatment, you will have likely heard of these ovulation-inducing medications. But what exactly do they do and how do they help you get closer to your dreams of parenthood?
Approved for use by the FDA in 1967, Clomid (clomiphene citrate) has been trusted by fertility specialists and gynecologists for over 50 years. Often the first line of oral treatment for infertility, it’s also one of the least expensive and invasive fertility treatments available.
Who is a good candidate for Clomid
“Clomid is widely known to help women who don’t ovulate on their own, or who have irregular ovulation cycles, such as those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS),” explains Cindy Golubisky, Clin Ops & Fertility Clinician at Hera Fertility.
For those who have PCOS, Clomid is often the first recommendation because the dosage can be closely monitored, which minimizes the chances of high order multiples (triplets or higher).
Clomid is also a good choice if the male partner has a low sperm count, even if the woman has healthy ovarian reserves. The medication increases the number of mature eggs available, which in turn increases the number of potential sperm “meet-ups.”
If you experience infertility factors that aren’t related to ovulation — such as pelvic lesions, blocked tubes or uterine abnormalities — Clomid likely isn’t right for you.
How does Clomid work
The drug is taken to boost ovulation. But how is that achieved?
Clomid lowers estrogen production by blocking the receptor in the brain. This stimulates the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to produce three key reproductive hormones: gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). This stimulates the growth of the ovarian follicle and triggers ovulation.
Having more mature eggs available to fertilize improves the chances for conception.
How do you take Clomid
Clomid requires a prescription, which can be filled at pharmacies that exclusively support those undergoing fertility treatments. The drug is taken orally, typically via a 50mg tablet, for five days during the early part of the menstrual cycle.
Possible side effects
Patient’s biggest concerns are often potential side effects of the medication, Golubisky says. Fertility clinics work hand-in-hand with patients, providing precise instructions and support throughout the process.
While very few women experience serious reactions from Clomid, some minor side effects are possible. These include possible hot flashes, constipation, mood swings, bloating, nausea and headaches. Your fertility specialist can help you navigate these symptoms.
Clomid success rates
With so many contributing factors, it’s difficult to predict the success rates of Clomid. However, two studies found that approximately 20% of patients taking the medication were able to conceive and deliver a live birth.
Even with a boost in ovulation, conception can take time. Your fertility specialist will closely monitor your cycles and determine if, after repeated cycles of Clomid, you may need to add other medications or consider other treatment options.
Multiples and Clomid
Many couples want to know: will a fertility drug like Clomid lead to twins, triplets, or even more multiples? It’s a valid concern: with the release of multiple eggs, the chances of multiple fertilizations increases. Working with a fertility clinic is key; they can closely monitor your dosing and make personalized recommendations based on your situation and needs.