Mother and Baby

Fertility Drugs And Their Side-Effects

Section: Fertility

There are a variety of fertility treatments available – and which one is right for you will depend on the cause of the issue, your age and medical history. If tests show a problem with ovulation, your doctor may prescribe Clomifene. Like any drug, it comes with side effects – here’s what you need to know

Clomifene (trademarked as Androxal, Clomid and Omifin) is the most widely prescribed of all fertility drugs. It acts as an ovulation stimulant (makes the ovaries produce more eggs), while blocking the effect of oestrogen in the body.

If, after discussing your medical history, your doctor prescribes the drug, they will explain how and when to take it – and the possible side effects.

Most common side effects

Everyone reacts differently to medication: some may notice mild side-effects while others can experience more serious problems. Some women won’t notice any changes at all.

Although it’s tricky to predict how you will react, it’s worth being aware of the side-effects and how common they are. In some cases, you will need to speak to your doctor. In the event of an extreme reaction (very rare) seek emergency medical help.

The most common reaction is skin flushing – along with an enlargement of the ovaries – experienced by more than one-in-10 women who take Clomifene.

Other common side effects

According to the NHS, more than 1 in 100 women who take the drug will experience:
•    bleeding in between menstrual periods
•    breast discomfort
•    distension, bloating or discomfort of the stomach
•    eye or eyesight problems such as blurring, seeing spots or flashes in front of the eyes
•    headaches
•    heavy or painful menstrual periods
•    nausea
•    pelvic pain - seek medical advice if you get any pain in the pelvis
•    vomiting

If you experience pain, discomfort or bloating of the stomach, develop eyesight problems, or notice a yellowing of eyes or skin (sign of a liver problem) seek medical advice straight away.

Uncommon side effects

Less common side-effects (affecting more than 1 in 1,000 people) who take the drug include:
•    depression
•    difficulty sleeping
•    feeling dizzy
•    feeling light-headed
•    feeling nervous
•    feelings of tension
•    tiredness
•    vertigo

This is not a complete list of possible side-effects. If you notice other effects not listed, contact your GP or pharmacist.

Everyone reacts differently to medication: some may notice mild side-effects while others can experience more serious problems

Other things to note

You’re advised to use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities when taking the drug.

As your doctor will have discussed with you, Clomifene also increases the likelihood of multiple births.

A 2010 study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that Clomifene may be linked to autism. Researchers found that autism was nearly twice as common among children of women who were treated with Clomid and other similar drugs than women who did not have fertility problems.

Remember - if you have any concerns about taking the drug, or have questions about side-effects, speak to your GP. If you feel very unwell, seek medical help straight away.


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