Fertility drugs are often the first step when it comes to fertility treatment for couples who are struggling to conceive, due to infertility of any kind. If you are facing fertility issues, your first thought may be to consider what medicines are available to help you as well as what are the costs to come of fertility treatments in the UK. Here, we run through some information that may help you when researching and looking for fertility medication and drugs to help with problems relating to infertility, which may help you decide the best options for you or your partner to get pregnant.
What Are Fertility Drugs?
Fertility drugs are a form of medication which may be used by fertility experts and doctors to enhance and increase the chances of reproductive fertility. They aim to improve the production and quality of eggs in women or sperm in men, both of which are likely to increase and enhance the chances of conception and the woman falling pregnant. For women, fertility medication stimulates follicle development in the ovaries. However, there are fewer fertility medication options available for men.
With regards to male fertility and addressing potential infertility in men, the premise of the treatment will often be to increase the quality of the sperm and to provide the sperm with the best chances of reaching the egg, leading to fertilisation and ultimately conception and pregnancy. Doctors and fertility experts will often address lifestyle factors such as diet, levels of activity and exercise and smoking status of the man or woman concerned (or both.) Infertility rarely has one single cause or factor, but with the right medical help, the chances of improving fertility and improving the chances of conception can be increased and improved.
What Do Fertility Drugs For Women Do?
There are many types of drugs and medications, aimed at addressing infertility in women, which will need to be prescribed by the doctor or consultant in question to help improve fertility and reduce infertility. Typically, healthcare experts will try and treat the underlying factors in the woman, which is likely to be addressed initially often by promoting the natural ovulation process, whereby an egg is released from the ovary to the fallopian tube, in preparation for conception (should it be met with a healthy, fertile sperm.)
Drugs used to promote ovulation are typically prescribed to women who are not ovulating regularly. Excess stimulation of ovulation for women that are otherwise ovulating naturally can lead to other health problems and so are unlikely to be advised.
Fertility medication works by boosting the production of particular hormones in your body, which in turn encourages ovulation to occur as naturally as possible; with an egg released ready for fertilisation each month as per a woman's otherwise natural menstrual cycle. Fertility drugs for women are also vital components of assisted conception treatments, such as in-vitro fertilisation, also known as IVF treatment and intrauterine insemination, also known as IUI.
What Are The Most Common Fertility Medications?
It can be daunting to consider taking medication and drugs that you are likely to have never heard of before. Your doctor will work with you to find which fertility drug, or drugs, will be best suited to your circumstances. The most commonly used fertility medicines include Clomifene, Tamoxifen, Metformin and Gonadotrophins.
Clomifene is a drug used to encourage monthly ovulation in women whose cycle is irregular, including those with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Tamoxifen is prescribed as an alternative choice to Clomifene. Tamoxifen has been shown in many cases to successfully stimulate ovulation in women who do not ovulate regularly.
Metformin is a hormone balancing drug that supports a consistent ovulation process for some women. It is often used to help women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Sometimes, fertility specialists prescribe Metformin alongside an ovulation induction drug like Clomifene.
Gonadotrophins can help improve ovulation in women, as well as promote fertility in men. Gonadotropins are hormones which can naturally be found in the body and which signal to the pituitary gland in the brain to produce and secrete particular hormones. For men, these hormones in part cause the testicles to produce testosterone. In women, they help cause the ovaries to produce oestrogen and progesterone, supporting fertility.
Do Fertility Drugs Have Side Effects?
Yes, much like any medication of prescribed drugs, medication and drugs, used for the treatment of infertility may well come with some side effects, which the patient should be aware of. Although they are safe and often successful medicines, fertility drugs can cause side effects for some users and in some women, these medicines may cause:
- Hot flushes
Another side effect worth considering is the chance of developing too many egg sacs. This is called 'ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.' When using fertility drugs, there is also a higher chance of a multiple pregnancy; having twins or triplets. Having more than a single baby may not be considered a 'risk' per se, but is something that those undergoing fertility treatments ought to be aware of to reduce the chance of a surprise should the couple conceive multiple babies in a single pregnancy.
It is therefore essential that you only use fertility medication under the supervision of a medical professional and never act alone. Your doctor will be able to guide your treatment, tailored to you and your needs to minimise any side effects. Should any side effects arise, your doctor or fertility expert will be able to help you deal with them. You should therefore speak to your doctor to find out more information about the potential side effects of your medication.
What is The Best Fertility Drug?
All of the above mentioned medications help support and encourage fertility, but which drug is right for you will depend on the specific factor or underlying reason which means you are having difficulty ovulating and conceiving. Which fertility treatment or drugs are prescribed will also depend on whether the drugs are being used as part of an assisted conception treatment, such as IVF or another form of fertility treatment.
Do Fertility Drugs Help Everyone Get Pregnant?
Medication to stimulate ovulation is not recommended for all women and can never guarantee conception and successful pregnancy. If your fertility issues are unexplained, you may not be prescribed fertility drugs. This is because they have typically not been found to increase the chances of getting pregnant in cases of unexplained infertility. Moreover, giving fertility drugs speculatively to try and treat unknown causes and underlying factors may be detrimental to the aim of conception. As with any medication, let alone those used in the course of infertility treatment, only once the problem and therefore potential cure or remedy is identified should medication and drugs be given.
Are Fertility Drugs Free on the NHS?
Fertility drugs, much like fertility treatments are available on the NHS, but you will have to pay your usual prescription charges unless you are exempt, with each NHS prescription item costs £9.35. If you are having treatment at a private clinic, your treatment may not include the price of the drugs and you should check this before proceeding.