In most cases, fertility medications are used during IVF. All drugs come with potential side effects, but some have a higher risk of side effects than others. Below, we will take a look at some of the most common IVF drugs and their side effects, as well as how doctors work to minimize the risk of side effects.
The most serious side effect associated with the majority of IVF drugs is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). When OHSS occurs, the ovaries become enlarged and the abdomen becomes filled with fluid. In most cases, pain and other symptoms occur, but fade quickly once the medication is discontinued. Rarely, serious complications can occur, or symptoms can persist even after the medication is discontinued.
Common IVF Drugs
Clomid is an oral medication that is sometimes used during IVF, but more often used on its own or during IUI cycles. Clomid stimulates the ovaries to produce more eggs by stimulating the pituitary gland to stimulate more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and more luteinizing hormone (LH). There is a lower risk of OHSS with Clomid than with other IVF drugs, but it is not usually the best choice for IVF cycles.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
Follicle stimulating hormone is used during most IVF cycles. Drugs that contain FSH, such as Follistim, directly stimulate the ovaries to produce more egg follicles than usual. There is a risk of OHSS with FSH, especially if high-dose FSH therapy is continued after the trigger injection is given.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
At IVF1, we use hCG as a “trigger” injection, causing the egg follicles to mature. A low dose of hCG is more effective at maturing the eggs than luteinizing hormone, and the risk of OHSS is lower in such cases.
Lupron is a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. It is commonly used to prevent ovulation during egg donation and egg freezing cycles. Lupron carries a lower risk of OHSS, so it is also used as a trigger injection in women who are at an elevated risk of OHSS, such as those who have had OHSS in the past.
Ultimately, there is always a risk of side effects with any medication, ranging from the mild to the severe. With IVF drugs, doctors can take steps to minimize – but not eliminate – the risk of side effects by choosing drugs and dosages whose use is grounded in evidence. The right drug regimen for an individual patient depends on the patient’s unique situation and medial history.
Dr. Randy Morris would be happy to meet with you about your fertility. To schedule your consultation today, please click below and enter your information or call IVF1 at (630) 357-6540.