What Is Clomiphene?

Clomiphene is a hormonal medication also known by its brand name, Clomid.
Clomiphene is a drug used to treat infertility.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Clomiphene is a hormonal medication better known by its brand-name Clomid®. This drug is most often used to treat infertility due to irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate. It can have other uses, such as producing greater ovulation for egg collection, to briefly regulate ovulatory cycle, and occasionally to raise sperm count levels in men. The drug is typically used for a short time only, and especially in cases where achieving pregnancy is the goal, use doesn’t exceed about six months. It’s generally thought that failure of clomiphene to achieve pregnancy by the six-month mark suggests the drug will not ever be effective.

The way in which clomiphene works as a fertility drug is by acting on the ovaries and on the pituitary gland and hypothalamus to raise levels of certain hormones. These are follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). When clomiphene is taken at specific times of the month, the increased levels of these hormones may help produce normal ovulation, thus elevating chances of pregnancy occurring. It tends not be effective when estrogen hormones don’t fall with normal ranges. Sometimes women have a higher than normal FSH level to begin with, and in this case the drug may not be particularly effective.

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While clomiphene may be useful in increasing conception or in treating other things, it does have side effects, which need to be weighed. Some of these include symptoms similar to very bad premenstrual syndrome or menopause. People taking this drug might experience persistent flushing or hot flashes, swift changes in mood with a tendency toward anger and upset, tenderness of the breasts, stomach pain, and stomach upset. Excessive stimulation of ovaries can occur too, and this may be a very severe side effect. If people notice vomiting, extreme stomach pain, and difficulty catching breath, they should get to a doctor immediately.

Like many fertility-oriented drugs, this medication is indicated in two possible downsides. First, its use is linked to a higher than average miscarriage rate. Second, clomiphene raises the likelihood of having twins or higher order multiple births. Statistically, about six to seven percent of clomiphene users achieving pregnancy have a multiple birth, while average multiple birth rate in those who don’t use the drug is about one or two percent. There is statistical significance, given the potential health risks posed with multiple births.

It could be easy to view clomiphene as the perfect solution to treat fertility, but it doesn’t tend to result in increased pregnancy when other problems, like structural ones or male infertility, interfere with conception. Doctors also advise that women attend to their health prior to taking this medication. Pregnancy chances and outcome may be improved when women taking Clomid® are healthy and when fertility testing shows clear indication the medicine is the right fertility intervention.

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