If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while without much luck, you may have heard of a ‘wonder-drug’ that can boost your chances. Known as Clomid, it encourages the production of eggs. So could it help you get pregnant?
Clomid, or clomiphene citrate to give it its generic name, is a drug that has been used for many years in fertility treatment. Taken in pill form at a specific point in your cycle, its job is to stimulate ovulation, which it does in about 70% of women taking it.
By boosting the production and release of eggs, it boosts the chances of getting pregnant. Around 20-60% of women who ovulate on Clomid will get pregnant, but success depends on other factors such as age.
How does it work?
It blocks the action of oestrogen, tricking the body into boosting the levels of two other hormones that control ovulation, and so kick-starting your ovaries. Hurrah! The first, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) controls the ripening of eggs in the ovary and the second, luteinising hormone (LH) triggers its release into the fallopian tubes.
Most women are advised to take the drug for five days near the start of their cycle. It can lead to more than one egg being released in a cycle and around five to 10% of women on Clomid conceive twins or, in rare cases, more.
Most women are advised to take the drug for five days near the start of their cycle
Who does it work for?
In its recently updated fertility guidance, the National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence specifically says that drugs, which stimulate the ovaries, such as Clomid should not be given to women with unexplained fertility.
But Dr Yakoub Khalaf, from the British Fertility Society, says the drug is a good option for women who’ve been found to have a problem with ovulation. ‘If the problem is ovarian, it’s usually very simple to solve with Clomid, although some women do not respond and may need other treatment.’
Fertility clinics also prescribe it before procedures such as IVF to stimulate egg production and offer the best chance.
Does it have side effects?
One thing that doctors look out for is the risk of over-stimulating the ovaries and at least for the first cycle they’ll use ultrasound to check it’s working but also that it’s not ‘overdoing it’, says Yakoub.
Doctors can adjust the dose to reduce a woman’s risk of multiple pregnancy. The drug cannot be used indefinitely and doctors may want to look at other options after six months. Other side effects can be blurred vision, hot flushes, mood swings, abdominal pain, heavy periods, weight gain, spots and breast tenderness.