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Houston Fertility Center

IVF Medication Side Effects: What You Should Know

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on January 20, 2017

A woman taking IVF medicationThe in vitro fertilization, or “IVF,” procedure has helped many people who have had difficulty conceiving achieve their dream of starting a family. As part of IVF treatment, medications will be taken to help prepare a woman's body for the procedure and increase the likelihood of successfully conceiving. Although the medications used in IVF treatment are safe, they do carry some potential side effects to be aware of before undergoing treatment. If you have questions about IVF medication side effects and live in the Houston, TX area, we welcome you to schedule a consultation at the Houston Fertility Center. In the meantime, read here to learn more about IVF medications and their potential side effects.

Medications Used In IVF Treatment

The IVF procedure requires the use of medication to stimulate ovulation or to prevent premature ovulation. The medication will vary based on the hormonal and reproductive needs of each individual. Each medication has its own possible side effects.

Clomiphene Citrate

Clomiphene citrate is a medication used to stimulate egg production by increasing the amount of FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone, released by the pituitary gland. Clomiphene citrate is generally used in women who have infrequent periods, long cycles, or frequently missed periods. Some of the potential side effects include:

  • Increased likelihood of multiple birth
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Increased risk of ovarian cysts or pelvic discomfort
  • Headaches or nausea
  • Hot flashes
  • Breast tenderness
  • Blurred vision
  • Mood swings or depression

Cabergoline and Bromocriptine

Cabergoline and bromocriptine are both oral medications used to reduce the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. The potential side effects for these oral medications include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nasal congestion

Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Human Menopausal Gonadotropin

Follicle stimulating hormone injections, such as Gonal F, are used to directly stimulate follicle growth in the ovaries. Human menopausal gonadotropin, or “hMG,” is an injectable medication made of FSH and luteinizing hormone, or “LH.” This injection is used to encourage the ovaries to produce multiple eggs in a single cycle. FSH and hMG share the same side effects, which include:

  • Increased likelihood of multiple birth
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Increased risk of premature birth
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Breast tenderness
  • Rash or swelling at the injection site
  • Hyper stimulation syndrome, which may cause abdominal pain, bloating, and enlarged ovaries

Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone

The gonadotropin-releasing hormone, or “GnRH,” is given as an injection and used to trigger the release of FSH and LH by the pituitary gland. Side effects for gonadotropin-releasing hormone include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Mild hyper stimulation syndrome
  • Minimally increased chance of multiple births

GnRH Agonists and Antagonists

GnRH agonists are either injected or administered via a nasal spray. GnRH agonists help increase the number of quality eggs. GnRH antagonists are given through an injection and are used to prevent premature ovulation. Both GnRH agonists and antagonists share the same side effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness and painful intercourse
  • Bone density loss
  • Decrease in breast size
  • Insomnia

Find out if IVF Treatment Is Right for You

If you have had difficulty conceiving, IVF treatment may be right for you. To find out if you're a candidate for IVF treatment, we invite you to schedule a consultation at the Houston Fertility Center.

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