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Infertility Drugs for Men and Women 2021: Medicines that Help to Get Pregnant Fast

Research-backed

When a couple cannot conceive after persistent trying or holding the child for the entire term, one of the first lines of treatment options considered is fertility or infertility treatment drugs. They are hormonal interventions that bring fertility back on track by regulating the endocrine hormones to help the couple conceive. 

The first fertility pills to get pregnant were marketed in 1955, showing the activities of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). And within a decade, many other hormonal medications were introduced.  

In advanced assisted reproductive treatments or artificial inseminations, these fertility injections or tablets play a significant role in achieving pregnancy. These hormonal medications need to be taken only after the recommendations of the fertility expert.

Also Read: Infertility Treatment Options for Male

Fertility Drugs for Men

When we talk of infertility drugs, it is a general notion that only women can use them. Male infertility drugs are also available that work on the male hormones by increasing testosterone levels. The higher testosterone levels boost the sperm generation process. Men having fertility issues like low sperm count (oligospermia), hypoandrogenism (low testosterone), hypogonadism (deficient testosterone), and non-obstructive azoospermia can benefit from these drugs. 

  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

hCG treatment in men helps increase testosterone levels by stimulating the gonads. It is used in men with low or testosterone deficiency (hypogonadism).  

hCG Mode of Action

The hCG hormone in men works similarly to the luteinizing hormone (LH) produced in the pituitary gland. The LH directly triggers the Leydig cells of the testicles to produce testosterone hormone and improve sperm production. Adequate testosterone levels are also necessary to maintain testicular size along with sperm generation.  

hCG is available in the form of injectables that are administered subcutaneously.

hCG: Effectiveness

hCG treats hypogonadism by increasing energy levels, strength, and libido caused due to lower testosterone production. 

It is also an effective drug used in testosterone replacement therapy and improves testicular growth.

Research studies indicate that hCG-induced testosterone release can increase the likelihood of successful sperm retrieval in men having non-obstructive azoospermia.

hCG Side Effects

The possible side-effects of hCG includes: 

  1. Changes in libido 
  2. Mood changes
  3. Energy level fluctuations
  4. Weight gain
  5. Pain at the site of injection
  6. Increased red blood cell concentration
  7. Increased risk of blood clotting
  8. Enlargement of prostate glands

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

FSH hormone treatment in men is used when the sperm count is less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. FSH stimulates the production of sperms within the testicles. 

FSH Mode of Action 

The pituitary glands release certain hormones that regulate the reproductive system into the bloodstream. The FSH hormone induces the secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland, which stimulates testosterone production and spermatogenesis.

FSH medication like Gonal F and Follistim comes in readily injectable pens that can be ideally administered subcutaneously. 

FSH: Effectiveness 

FSH injections increase sperm production, testosterone levels, energy levels, and strength.

It can also improve erectile function in men with hyperandrogenism (a condition with high androgen secretion). 

It has shown high success results in treating patients with undescended testis. 

Research revealed that FSH could give more effective results of spermatogenesis in men with hypogonadism as well. 

FSH Side effects

The minimal side effects of FSH injections are:

  • Pain and bleeding at the site of injection
  • Possible swelling of testicles
  • Headaches due to hormone changes
  • Visual changes

Fertility Drugs for Women 

If a woman is unable to get pregnant or has issues with fertility, these medicines help to get pregnant fast. They stimulate the endocrine glands to release hormones and induce or moderate ovulation (release mature eggs from the ovaries). 

  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Clomiphene
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin
  • Recombinant Human chorionic gonadotropin
  • Human menopausal gonadotropin
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists
  • Dopamine agonists

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) 

The FSH hormone in the woman’s reproductive tract plays a key role in egg growth and maturation. FSH is available in the forms of Urofollitropin lyophilisate, and Follitropin alfa lyophilisate promotes follicular development and egg growth. 

FSH Mode of Action

FSH induces the ovaries to develop one or two follicles. These follicles nurture and develop eggs essential for ovulation and fertilization. FSH drugs work closely with bioavailable FSH and help the follicle grow to produce mature eggs. 

FSH is best used as an injectable. The egg growth injection names include Bravelle, Fertinex, Follistim, and Gonal-F.

FSH: Effectiveness

FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce follicles and aid follicles and egg maturation. 

FSH Side effects

  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Stomach bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea and Vomiting

Clomiphene

Clomiphene is a class of drugs used to induce ovulation in women with ovaries that do not regularly produce eggs.

Clomiphene Mode of Action

 Also known as ovulation stimulants, these drugs work by triggering the pituitary gland to produce FSH in a woman’s reproductive tract. FSH production leads to follicular development and egg maturation. 

The egg release tablet, Clomiphene citrate is the generic drug that can be taken orally. It is one of the main drugs used in ovulation Induction procedures.    

Clomiphene: Effectiveness

These hormone pills are used to get pregnant, especially in women having ovulation issues like irregular or absence of ovulation. 

Most often used in women having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).

Clomiphene side effects:

  • Hot flushes
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Tenderness of the breasts

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) 

hCG is one of the essential hormones produced in the body that triggers the release of the egg during ovulation. 

hCG Mode of Action:

hCG drugs trigger the production of progesterone hormone in women. Progesterone supports egg maturation and releases them into the fallopian tubules. 

The hCG injections are generally used in combination with clomiphene or hMG to improve pregnancy chances. 

hCG: Effectiveness:

The hCG injections are used to help the release of eggs in women having delayed ovulation.

hCG is also used to support the placental development of an upcoming pregnancy.

hCG Side effects

  • Headache
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Pelvic pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Recombinant human chorionic gonadotropin (r-hCG)

r-hCG working is similar to hCG injections. It enables final follicular maturation and early placental preparations (early luteinization).

r-hCG Mode of Action

 It is a single shot medication that is given intramuscularly or subcutaneously. 

r-hCG: Effectiveness

It is generally used after controlled ovary stimulation (COS) during the treatment of the assisted reproductive technique (ART).

r-hCG Side effects

The minimal side-effects observed are similar to hCG injections.

Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG)

The two basic sex hormones FSH and leutinizing hormone (LH), are essential for egg development. The combination of these two hormones is significant for eggs to grow to the right size and mature at the right time. hMG is a combination of these two sex hormones.

hMG Mode of Action

hMG stimulates the ovaries to produce eggs in women who ovulate infrequently. They have FSH and LH in the required combination to nurture egg growth and development.

hMG is taken in the form of injections only. 

hMG: Effectiveness

hMG can effectively increase egg production in a single cycle. So, generally used in assisted reproduction. 

hMG side effects

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pelvic pain
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Skin allergic reactions
  • Breast tenderness and enlargement

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonists

The GnRH antagonists block the release of FSH and LH. This promotes the activities of the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. 

GnRH antagonists Mode of Action

The FSH and LH hormones are required during the menstrual cycles for the initial follicular development process. The low LH levels allow easy luteal phase transmission, egg maturation, and release. GnRH reduces the release of FSH and LH for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) in an ART cycle. 

GnRH antagonists are taken through subcutaneous injections with Cetrotide acetate and Ganirelix acetate generic names.

GnRH antagonists: Effectiveness

It prevents overstimulation of ovaries and spontaneous/early release of eggs. On the other hand, it helps ensure the proper maturation of eggs.

GnRH antagonists side effects

  • Itching, redness at the site of injection
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain

Dopamine agonists

They are a category of medications that help relieve problems with ovulation and help conceive.

Dopamine agonists Mode of Action

They stimulate the dopamine receptors in the brain and suppress the release of the prolactin hormone. This prevents and treats a condition called hyperprolactinemia that leads to excess prolactin.

They are oral medications available in conceive tablet names, including Cabergoline and Bromocriptine.

Dopamine agonists: Effectiveness

It is used to correct hormonal imbalances, including estrogen, progesterone, and FSH. It helps regular ovulation by promoting the regular release of eggs from the ovaries. It is the strongest fertility pill in IVF treatment that reduces the symptoms caused due to overstimulation of ovaries (OHSS). 

Dopamine agonists side effects

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure and drowsiness
  • Increased libido

Frequently Asked Questions

Pooja N Swamy (M.Sc Biomedical Sciences)
Pooja Holds Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. She believes in strong research and clear understanding over the subject. Always determined and focussed with a thirst to learn new things. Hardworking, flexible and grounded to align with the goals.

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