Medicine or hormone treatments are often the first steps in fertility treatment. They are also used for in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive technologies.
If you have irregular or no ovulation, using medicine or hormones to stimulate ovulation will increase your chances of pregnancy. But these treatments increase your risk of multiple pregnancy. And that poses health risks to both you and your fetuses. When thinking about a fertility treatment:
- Ask your doctor about your risk for having a multiple pregnancy. Find out how to lower the chance of conceiving more than one fetus.
- Think about how a high-risk multiple pregnancy, and the possibility of having multiple disabled children, might affect your life.
- Multiple Pregnancy: Should I Consider a Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction?
Other rare complications-such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome-can be caused by hormone shots used to stimulate ovulation. These shots may be used in assisted reproductive technology such as IVF.
In very rare cases, male fertility problems are caused by hormonal imbalances. Men are then treated with medicine or hormones that help the hypothalamus and pituitary gland start normal sperm production.
Ask your doctor questions about medicines you are considering. For example, are there long-term effects? How long will the treatment last? How often you must be tested while taking the medicine? Are there any side effects that will affect your daily life?
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). It increases the body's production of hormones needed for sperm production.
Bromocriptine and cabergoline lower prolactin levels. High levels of prolactin can prevent the release of testosterone and production of sperm.
- Clomiphene (such as Clomid) stimulates the release of hormones that trigger ovulation.
- Gonadotropins. These hormone shots stimulate the ovaries to produce mature eggs.
- Medicines for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you're not ovulating because of PCOS, your doctor might suggest that you take a drug such as metformin along with clomiphene. Learn more about treatment of women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). It increases the body's production of hormones needed for egg production.
- Bromocriptine and cabergoline lower prolactin levels. High levels of prolactin can prevent ovulation.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogue. This is used for in vitro fertilization.
- Aromatase inhibitors are sometimes used to stimulate ovulation.