would run through the Wal-Mart parking lot naked if it would
help me get pregnant," says Erica, a 27-year-old schoolteacher.
Erica is not alone in her feelings about having a baby. Many
women, from all walks of life, have suffered the heartbreak
of fertility problems. And many seem willing to try anything.
For some, the answer may lie in fertility medications designed
to stimulate ovulation, and end, god willing, in a pregnant,
fully clothed woman walking through Wal-Mart.
most popular of the fertility drugs is clomiphene (brand names
Clomid, Serophene, and Milophene). Clomiphene is taken in
pill form. Like other fertility drugs, it works by telling
a woman's glands to produce more FSH (follicle stimulating
hormones), which induce ovulation, says Dr. Benjamin Gocial,
MD of the Women's Institute for Fertility, Endocrinology,
and Menopause in Philadelphia. Clomid costs ten dollars a
pill, and is taken for five days per cycle.
medications are intended for women with fertility problems
stemming from ovulation difficulty; specifically, women
who ovulate irregularly or not at all.
medications are intended for women who ovulate irregularly
or not at all. "Clomid will induce ovulation and correct the
ovulation problem in about 80% of such patients," notes Dr.
Gocial. "Pregnancy is a different issue."
With Clomid, most women can expect to get pregnant within
three to six cycles. If you monitor the cycles carefully,
and are not pregnant by the sixth cycle, consider moving on
to stronger medications like gonadotropins.
The Next Level : The Injectibles
or human menopausal gonadotropins (hMGs), are purified LH
(luteinizing hormones) and FSH. These drugs are injected,
instead of swallowed, and are more potent and effective. They
are also much more expensive. The minimum cost for the injectable
gonadotropin medications is $1,000 per cycle. HMGs come in
different forms for different fertility problems. Some commonly
used injectible FSH Brand Names are Metrodin, Fetinex, Follistim,
Gonal F, Pergonal, Humegon, and Repronex. With these drugs
you should expect a pregnancy within 2, 3, or 4 cycles.
a pill, 5 pills per cycle.
Fetinex, Follistim, Gonal F, Pergonal, Humegon, Repronex
drugs alter the body's natural balance of hormones, and as
a result, women undergoing these types of treatments should
expect some side effects. "With Clomid, the side effects may
include breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, pelvic discomfort
from the enlarging ovaries, nausea, visual disturbances in
the form of double vision or spots before your eyes or blurred
vision, and hot flashes," says Dr. Gocial.
concurs. " I have hot flashes (mainly at night), my side hurts
during ovulation, and I have mood swings that could kill.
I'm happy one minute, and yelling or crying the next."
drugs alter the body's natural balance of hormones,
and as a result, women undergoing these types of treatments
should expect some side effects.
births are a concern when using any fertility drug. This occurs
when a woman releases more than one egg during ovulation and
they are fertilized together. It's troublesome because it
can lead to dangerously low birth weights and developmental
of multiple births have received much media attention. Susan
Treiser, MD, PhD, of IVF New Jersey, says the risk is not
as pronounced as some would believe. "With Clomid, the chance
of getting pregnant is only ten percent per cycle. The risk
of multiples is about five percent of that ten percent. The
vast majority of multiple births are twins." So what about
the stories of women having quints and quads and the like,
thanks to fertility drugs? "It is a very small percentage
that have them. The really unusual cases are the ones that
make the news."
The possibility of negative long-term side effects associated
with the use of fertility medication is an issue of debate
within the medical community. Studies have not linked any
medications to ovarian cancer, but it should be noted that
there has not been a significant long-term study completed
on the topic. According to Dr. Gocial, "Some question whether
there is an association between ovarian cancer and these medications,
but this really has not been demonstrated."
With many different factors determining whether or not fertility
medication is proper or needed, your best bet is to ask a
fertility specialist questions that relate specifically to