Female Fertility Drugs

Fertility drugs, when used by women, stimulate the development of follicles in the ovary. During ovulation the follicles release mature eggs into the uterus, so the stimulation of the follicles will aid egg production and increase the chances of pregnancy. There are three classifications of fertility drugs, and these are:

  • Gonadotropin releasing hormones
  • Oestrogen antagonists
  • Gonadotropins

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormones

Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) in its natural form is released from a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, and is responsible for the production of two hormones that are absolutely crucial in the context of fertility: FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Lutenizing Hormone). These two hormones are released from another part of your brain called the anterior pituitary, and are responsible for the tight regulation of the monthly cycle which is so important to your fertility. The right levels of LH and FSH mean that you ovulate as and when you should, but when GnRH isn’t doing what it should, the all-important menstrual cycle becomes disrupted.

Gonadotropin releasing hormones can be given in the form of an infusion pump known as gonadorelin hydrochloride to correct imbalances and adjust the menstrual cycle for improved fertility

FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone), Gonal-F, and Puregon Luteinizing hormones are drugs used to stimulate egg production before fertility treatment is used, these will be used if they are not being produced naturally in the body.

Oestrogen Antagonists

Oestrogen antagonists affect the production of oestrogen that is produced in the body as this can effect fertility. Oestrogen is produced in fat cells, so women who are underweight may find that they have an oestrogen level which is too low, and women how are overweight may find that their oestrogen levels are too high.

If for whatever reason your natural oestrogen balance is hindering your ability to get pregnant, there are two types of drugs which can change it. These are Clomiphene and aromatase inhibiters. Clomiphene is an oestrogen receptor modulator meaning that it effects the information that the hypothalamus received about the production of gonadotropins, "tricking" the brain into producing more. Aromatase inhibiters lower the production of oestrogen and is normally used in cancer patients, however, research is being conducted onto how it can be used to stimulate follicle stimulating hormones in a similar way to Clomiphene.

Gonadotropin Preparations

Gonadotropin preparations artificially recreate the effects of gonadotropins, hormones that act on your reproductive organs to maintain fertility. The preparations are collected either from the urine of menopausal women or recombinant preparations, both are equally effective. Recombinant preparations are more expensive and urinary preparations are only available in vials so are less convenient to administer, but both types of gonadotropin preparations are given in the form of an injection.

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) Preparations are used in later in the cycle and caused the follicles to mature effectively before ovulation. However the use of hCG is strongly linked to a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, an unpleasant condition that can become quite severe if you get pregnant while suffering from it.

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