What are the most commonly used fertility drugs and what do they do?

August 1, 2023
There are many types of fertility drugs available. Find out more about what they do, and how they might help you on your journey.

Infertility can be caused by a wide range of factors. When fertility specialists are putting together a treatment plan, they will take into account the cause of the infertility (if known) and your medical history. They will talk you through the plan and tell you about any drugs that they intend to use. You will also have chance to ask any questions, before deciding whether to go ahead with the treatment plan.


There are many types of fertility drugs used. In this post, we will mention some of the most commonly used ones and their purpose.


Note: The purpose of this blog article is for general information only. Your GP or fertility specialist will be able to tell you whether a particular drug will be suitable for you, with your personal medical history and whether there are any contraindications.

Drugs to increase fertility, without the use of IUI or IVF


For some conditions, such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), an irregular menstrual cycle, or hormone imbalances in men and women, fertility drugs may be recommended as a first step. They may help you to conceive, without the need for treatments such as IUI (Intrauterine insemination) or IVF (In vitro fertilisation). Antioxidants and vitamins, taken under advisement, may also help with fertility.


Clomid (Clomifine citrate) to encourage monthly ovulation


Tamoxifen is an alternative to Clomid and also used to encourage ovulation


Metformin can be used for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to try to improve ovulation


Gonadotrophins used to help to stimulate ovulation in women and can also be helpful for male fertility

On the NHS website, it notes that: ‘Medicine that stimulates the ovaries is not recommended for women with unexplained infertility because it has not been found to increase their chances of getting pregnant.’

Drugs that are commonly used during IUI and/or IVF treatment


IUI can be done with or without the use of fertility drugs. IVF can be done with no drugs or fewer drugs. Your fertility specialist will be able to advise you about your choices, taking into account your personal medical history and the current IVF success rates for people of your age.


Oral contraceptives
can help to regulate and control your cycle


Cetrotide or Buserelin are down regulation drugs, used to suppress your natural ovarian function, in order to get multiple, mature eggs


Gonal-F, Menopur, Bemfola or Meriofert can stimulate follicle growth


Gonasi, Pregnyl or Ovitrelle are used to trigger your eggs to mature, ready for fertilisation


Cyclogest or Evorel are used to help to prepare your womb lining for implantation

How are IVF drugs administered?


The type of administration depends on the drug. Some medications are administered orally, some are administered through vaginal suppositories, while others are given via self-injection. You will be given clear instructions about how to take each medication.

What are the risks involved with fertility drugs?


As with all drugs, side-effects may occur and some medications carry a greater risk than others. Your fertility specialist can advise you about the risks of each of the drugs that they are recommending for your personal treatment plan.

Here at the IVF Network, we understand that going through infertility and fertility treatment can leave you with many questions. That’s why we provide you with a wide range of information, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make informed choices on your personal fertility journey.

References


‘Fertility Drugs’ HFEA
https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/fertility-drugs/


Treatment, infertility NHS
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility/treatment/


‘Quick Guide to IVF Medications’ Manchester Fertility 7/7/2018
https://www.manchesterfertility.com/blog/quick-guide-to-ivf-medications/

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