What fertility drugs are there for women?
Clomifene citrate (Clomid)
Clomid is an effective treatment which stimulates your ovaries to produce more eggs. It’s often the first course of treatment for women with polycystic ovaries but it can also be used by women who have late or irregular periods.
There’s a risk with Clomid of developing too many follicles (the sacs that hold your eggs). If this happens you could have a multiple birth (twins, triplets or more) which carries serious health risks to both mother and babies. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you only take Clomid under the supervision of a fertility specialist.
Find out more about multiple births on our Risks of Fertility Treatment page
Metformin isn’t technically a fertility drug; it’s a drug used in the treatment of people with diabetes. However it can be used by some women with polycystic ovaries who aren’t ovulating properly because of abnormal insulin levels in the body.
Women with PCOS can develop insulin resistance, which means their body stops reacting to normal insulin levels. To compensate, the body will produce more insulin than it needs and this can lead to high androgen (male hormone) levels which affect ovulation. Metformin reduces insulin in the body to normal levels, allowing ovulation to return to normal.
Gonadotrophins can be used by women with PCOS who haven’t gotten pregnant with Clomid and are still experiencing problems with ovulation. They’re hormones that you inject into the body to help stimulate egg production.
Women who take gonadotrophins can develop a side effect called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which can, in rare cases, be fatal so it’s essential you’re aware of the symptoms of OHSS.
Find out more about OHSS on our Risks of Fertility Treatment page
Bromocriptine and Cabergoline
Bromocriptine and Cabergoline can be used by women who produce too much of the prolactin hormone, a condition called hyperprolactinemia. Prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and too much of it can reduce levels of oestrogen in the body, making ovulation difficult. Bromocriptine and Cabergoline both increase levels of dopamine in the brain, which helps to reduce levels of prolactin production and return ovulation to normal.