Medications vs hormones
Depending on the underlying cause of a woman’s infertility and the course of action planned, a physician may either prescribe medications or hormones. Medications usually aid in boosting ovulation and are often prescribed for women with irregular ovulation. But suppose a woman plans to undergo artificial insemination by intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). In that case, a doctor may also prescribe the hormone progesterone and various ovulation drugs that either suppress, trigger or encourage the release of multiple eggs.
Common side effects
The medications prescribed for fertility often target hormonal imbalances to prepare a woman’s body for conception. As a result, women often experience side effects. Common fertility medication side effects include:
- Mood swings
- Anxiety or depression
- Physical discomfort including nausea, vomiting, headaches, cramps, and breast tenderness
- Multiple births
- Higher risk of miscarriage
The risk for ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a condition most commonly seen in women taking injectable hormones to prepare for artificial insemination. The condition is characterized by enlarged ovaries and increased fluids in the abdomen. For most women, the condition is mild. In one percent of cases, severe complications can arise. In addition to the common symptoms listed above, OHSS can cause rapid weight gain, dehydration, issues with the kidneys, blood clots, and even ovarian twisting. While the condition is temporary, severe forms may require hospitalization so that the patient can be closely monitored through recovery.
Speak with a healthcare provider
Fertility medications can be incredibly effective for women or couples who are desperately trying to conceive and have struggled to do so naturally. However, the medications aren’t without risks. While most women will have mild symptoms that are simply an inconvenience, others may be in the minor percentile that experience more adverse reactions. Before beginning any fertility treatment plan, women should speak with a healthcare provider to fully understand the process, any prescribed medications, and potential associated side effects to make an informed decision.