FAQs: Do Fertility Drugs Actually Work?

faqs: do fertility drugs actually work

When a couple has trouble conceiving, infertility drugs are often the first step in increasing hormones in the female body to encourage ovulation. Some question the effectiveness of these medications and wonder when should an infertility treatment be used? The FAQ below provides some insight into these questions.

1.     What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child within 12 months of regular attempts at conception. This condition refers to both the inability to conceive or a woman who is not able to carry a pregnancy to full term. If a couple has not been able to conceive within 12 months, a reproductive endocrinologist will be able to provide a medical assessment and guidance.

2.     How common is infertility?

About 10 – 15% of American couples experience infertility.

3.     What causes infertility?

Risk factors for infertility include a variety of behaviors and characteristics including age, smoking, drinking, obesity, eating disorders, over-exercising or under-exercising, sexually transmitted diseases, and mental stress. Additionally, a variety of ovulation disorders and other conditions can affect the production or release of eggs including premature ovarian failure, polycystic ovary syndrome, hyperprolactinemia, over or underactive thyroid, and poor egg quality.

4.     How are infertility medications administered?

Fertility medications can be administered orally through pills or through injections. A physician will be able to determine the best option for each couples’ situation.

5.     What do fertility drugs do?

Fertility drugs help women ovulate by increasing levels of follicle stimulating hormone. Treatments also align hormones and increase the likelihood of embryo implantation. At the most basic level, fertility medications stimulate ovulation.

6.     What are risks of fertility medications?

Fertility drugs, taken in too high a dosage for the woman, can lead to a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation which enlarges the ovaries and causes them to fill with fluid which is released during ovulation. Additionally, the likelihood of having multiples increases along with a heightened risk of miscarriage.

7.     Can men take fertility drugs?

Male fertility treatments address infertility issues such as poor sperm quantity and mobility as well as hormonal imbalances that can prevent the production of sperm. Occurrences where male fertility treatments are necessary are very rare.

8.     What is the most common fertility drug?

Comid, or clomphene citrate, is typically the first medication suggestion by a physician when a couple initially seeks to treat unexplained infertility. This is an oral medication that is usually taken without other medical interventions but can be combined with other fertility medications or treatments as instructed by a physician.

9.     Does sexual intercourse need to be timed with fertility drug treatment?

Certain medications, particularly gonadotropins, an injection into the fatty tissue, must be timed with intercourse. These injections are self administered at home and are sometimes combined with other treatments.

10.  What is the average cost of fertility medication?

The cost of fertility medication ranges from about $10 to $5,000 a month depending on the drug type, frequency of use, and insurance coverage.

Dealing with infertility can be frustrating and scary, but fertility drugs are the first way to begin reconciling the bodily issues that lead to an inability to conceive. These medications will regulate the reproductive hormones and stimulate ovulation. With 80 percent of women ovulating successfully when taking the most-commonly prescribed infertility treatment, these medications provide a great deal of hope to couples trying to have a child. 

By Meagan Bates