What are they and how do they work?
Oral medication for infertility, such as Clomiphene citrate or Letrozole, are medications that induce (ovulation induction) or improve (ovulation enhancement) ovulation (expulsion or release of an egg from the ovary). These medications are designed to help the body make more of its own FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), a hormone that signals the ovary to develop a competent and mature egg.
How are they administered?
These medications are usually taken orally once daily for 5 days early in the menstrual cycle. Side effects may include mild headache, mood swings, vaginal dryness, ovarian cysts, and visual disturbances. Patients who achieve pregnancy with oral medication have a 5-10% risk of having twins.
Response to oral medications is often monitored by pelvic ultrasound, and treatment is often combined with closely timed intrauterine insemination to increase the chance of pregnancy.
What if oral medications don’t work?
Some patients fail to respond, fail to ovulate, or fail to achieve pregnancy with oral fertility medications. In these cases, other medications may be added such as low dose steroids or injectable fertility medications . At this point, most OB/GYNs consider referring the patient to a Reproductive Endocrinologist.