You can get fertility pills from your doctor to support you in your journey towards conception. Both an NHS doctor as well as a doctor from a private healthcare provider may prescribe you fertility medication, so long as certain risk factors and considerations have been accounted for. However, it is not typically a run-of-the-mill GP who will be the one to prescribe fertility medication. Prescriptions for fertility medications will usually be in the course of fertility treatment in the UK. Prescriptions will usually given by secondary or tertiary care providers, such as the medical professionals and providers at a fertility clinic or hospital.
What Are Fertility Pills?
Fertility pills are tablets that fertility specialist and doctors prescribe to increase the chances of conceiving, usually as part of fertility treatment courses. They aim to improve reproductive fertility by boosting the production and quality of eggs in women or sperm in men. For women, fertility pills promote follicle development in the ovaries. Some fertility medication may influence hormones in women to stimulate their natural ovarian cycle and thus conception in some cases. However, there are fewer fertility medication options available for men.
Can I Get Fertility Pills From My Doctor in the UK?
Your doctor can prescribe you fertility pills if they feel this will improve your chances of conceiving. However, there are various steps that you will usually need to go through first and which your doctor, GP or other medical professional should guide you through.
- Physical Assessment - When you first see your GP regarding any problems relating to conceiving and getting pregnant, they will examine your medical and sexual history and will give you a physical assessment
- Lifestyle Changes - Where appropriate, your GP could suggest some lifestyle changes you can make to increase your chances of conceiving. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and smoking status of the man or woman concerned can affect and impact fertility
- Rule Out Other Conditions - Your GP will also need to rule out other medical conditions which may otherwise be contributing to any degree of infertility. Your GP will investigate different conditions that could be disrupting ovulation and fertility, such as thyroid conditions or irregularities of the adrenal or pituitary glands
- Referral to a Fertility Specialist - Following these initial investigative tests, your GP can decide to refer you to a fertility specialist at an NHS hospital or private fertility clinic in the UK. Typically, you are only eligible for a referral for further investigations and treatment if you have been trying to conceive for at least a year but have been unsuccessful. There is an exception to this rule if you have some specific obstacles that exacerbate your infertility, such as cancer treatment
What Does a Fertility Specialist Do?
At a fertility clinic, they will carry out further medical assessments. GPs can only undertake tests as described in the policy to investigate infertility and any additional and more detailed testing requires a fertility specialist. For example, anti-Mullerian hormone tests, hepatitis B serology and HIV testing would be carried out at the fertility clinic under the supervision of the relevant fertility doctor or specialist, if necessary and required.
Drug Prescriptions for Fertility
The fertility specialist can then look at treatments that could be applicable for you. Irregular ovulation can typically be treated with fertility drugs. Once other conditions have been ruled out, your doctor will likely prescribe fertility pills to stimulate ovulation. Clomiphene is often the first choice to be prescribed to women. Drug prescriptions should be given by a secondary or tertiary care provider, such as a fertility clinic or hospital, and it is not typical or routine for a GP to prescribe fertility medication.
Why Do Specialists Prescribe Fertility Pills?
A reproductive specialist should be the person and professional in control of your treatment and the course of your treatment throughout your fertility journey. Fertility pills need close monitoring and should only be prescribed by a fertility doctor, as if they are wrongly prescribed or administered, they may have adverse side effects. These drugs can potentially cause side effects such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which a GP may have minimal experience of managing. Therefore, a reproductive specialist should monitor the taking of these drugs as a precaution, as they can expertly detect the occurrence of side effects.
What Fertility Pills Will A Doctor Prescribe?
Your reproductive specialist will work with you to find which fertility drug, or drugs, will be best suited to you. The most common fertility pills include Clomifene, Tamoxifen and Metformin.
- Clomifene - Clomifene is a fertility pill used to support consistent monthly ovulation in women whose cycle is erratic, including women with polycystic ovary syndrome
- Tamoxifen - Tamoxifen is prescribed as an alternative to Clomifene. Tamoxifen tablets have been seen to encourage ovulation in women who do not ovulate regularly.
- Metformin - Metformin is a hormone balancing pill that supports a consistent ovulation process. It is regularly used to treat women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility specialists can also prescribe Metformin alongside an ovulation induction drug, like Clomifene
What Is The Best Fertility Pill?
All of these fertility medications help support and encourage fertility, but which drug is right for you will depend on your circumstances. The fertility pill prescribed will also depend on whether they are being used as part of an assisted conception treatment, such as IVF or another form of fertility treatment.
Are Fertility Drugs Free on the NHS?
Fertility drugs, much like fertility treatments, are in many cases funded through the NHS but there are all also exclusions you should be aware of, even with the NHS and fertility treatments. However, you will have to pay your usual prescription charges unless you are exempt. Each item through NHS prescription costs £9.35. If you are having treatment at a private clinic, your treatment package may not include the price of the drugs, and you should review this before agreeing. However, undertaking fertility treatment at a private clinic can provide you with access to some of the world's best fertility experts who you would otherwise not be able to access as part of your fertility treatment course.