Commonly used fertility drugs

There a number of different types of fertility drugs that you may be recommended by your clinician. Have a look over our list of the most common fertility drugs to see what each one is prescribed for, and what the possible side effects could be.

The list also covers drugs used to give you more control over your treatment cycle.

Commonly prescribed fertility drugs:

Clomifene citrate (Clomid)

Taken in pill form between days two and six of your cycle, Clomid indirectly stimulates the ovaries into producing eggs. It is used to stimulate and/or regulate ovulation (for example, if you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)).

When taking this drug, you must be monitored in a fertility clinic to check how many follicles (and hence eggs) develop. Because your ovaries are artificially stimulated to produce more eggs than would be released naturally, it increases your risk of having twins.

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Taken in tablets two to three times a day, Metformin is used to treat PCOS. It helps to stimulate ovulation.

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Gonadotrophins – hormones containing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH)or a combination

Used to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs before cycles of IVF treatment, or to treat PCOS when Clomid hasn’t worked, these hormones are also used in cases of infertility due to pituitary gland failure and in some forms of male infertility. They are delivered through daily injections and can be followed by an injection of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) to trigger the final stage of egg maturation.

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Drugs to regulate your treatment cycle:

During treatment, your doctor will usually prescribe other drugs for you to take at various times to give more control over your treatment cycle. These may include:


Nafarelin Buserelin and goserelin (also known as gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH)analogues or pituitary agonists)

Taken as a nasal spray several times daily, or by daily injection, or injected monthly under the skin, this stops the natural menstrual cycle by blocking the release of hormones that regulate it. This is usually taken before and during your gonadotrophin injections.

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Cetrotide and Orgalutran – gonadotrophin-releasing hormone antagonists

These drugs are usually started a few days after starting gonadotrophin injections and are delivered as daily under the skin (subcutaneous) injections. They stop ovulation until the eggs are ready to be collected as part of the IVF cycle.

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Progesterone (including Cyclogest, Gestone or Crinone)

Taken to thicken the lining of the womb, progesterone can help to maintain pregnancy after IVF or IUI. It can be taken as a vaginal suppository, pill or gel, or by injection into the buttock. It is delivered either on the day the embryos are returned to the womb, or after the injection of the pregnancy hormone hCG.


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Bromocript-ine and Cabergoline

Taken in tablet form to reduce high levels of the hormone prolactin, which can interfere with the production of FSH, these can help reduce the effects of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) if you are at risk.

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Side effects

You may experience side effects while taking fertility drugs, or you may feel fine.

Make sure you let your clinic know if you have any unexpected reactions. The following symptoms have all been associated with their use: stomach pains, hot flushes, mood swings, heavy periods, breast tenderness, insomnia, increased urination, spots, headaches, weight gain, dizziness, and vaginal dryness. Read more about the risks of fertility treatment on p78.

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Page last updated: 06 January 2015