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What is Clomid?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 17 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Clomid Fertility Drug Pregnant Ovulation

Clomid is a well-known and commonly used fertility drug. It is usually the first drug recommended for women who are having trouble getting pregnant as it stimulates the ovaries and increases the chances of ovulation. It can also be used for the treatment of irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovaries and unexplained infertility. Clomid is also known as Serophene; both of these names are trade names for the same drug – clomiphene citrate.

How does Clomid Work?

Clomid is highly effective; on average, over 80 per cent of women who take it experience increased ovulation and over half of these go on to become pregnant within 6 months of starting treatment. It is often the preferred option for women who are reluctant to rush straight into expensive, invasive and time-consuming fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Clomid encourages the release of follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) and luteinising hormones (LH) that are both vital to ovulation. A higher level of hormones results in a greater number of egg-producing follicles – and a greater chance of conceiving. Normally, oestrogen would stop the production of FSH and LH once levels started to rise. Clomid’s secondary action is to reduce oestrogen to a level at which it can no longer have any effect on the release of these hormones.

Taking Clomid

Clomid is taken in pill form and is always prescribed by a GP or fertility specialist. It is taken for about 5 days at the start of the menstrual cycle and you will be closely monitored throughout the treatment period to check whether you have ovulated. Treatment usually continues for about 6 cycles although its use should be regularly reviewed by a GP or fertility expert. Some patients continue the treatment for up to 12 months but many women find that they become pregnant long before this.

Clomid – What to Expect

Clomid is so widely used because it is effective and, overall, it is very safe. As with all medicines, there are associated risks and side-effects and this fertility treatment will suit some women more than others. As Clomid increases the chances of releasing egg-producing follicles, it also increases the chances of multiple births; between one and seven per cent of women who take Clomid will have twins or triplets so the drug must be used with caution where a multiple birth would pose a significant risk to the woman’s health.

Clomid is similar to the majority of fertility drugs in that it causes side effects that are related to its effect on normal reproductive hormone levels. Common side-effects can include hot flushes, breast tenderness, irritability, fatigue, vomiting, weight gain, nausea, and abdominal pain. Not all women will suffer all of these problems and, in fact, most report few problems when they start taking Clomid. Minor side effects are easy to cope with when the objective is to make it more likely to conceive – particularly if women have already gone through the worry and anguish of infertility over a significant period of time.

Deciding if Clomid is Right for You

If you have been unable to get pregnant and there are no obvious serious underlying causes, Clomid may be all that you need to boost hormone levels and to stimulate more regular ovulation. Your GP or fertility specialist will discuss any other options, and the possible side effects of Clomid with you before treatment begins to help minimise any risk.

It has been suggested oestrogen-suppressing drugs can increase the chances of miscarriage and may be linked to a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer. The latest data shows that there is little evidence to show that this is more likely with Clomid than with other fertility treatments.

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