Side Effects of Fertility Treatments

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Modern fertility treatments are generally safe. People who go through fertility treatment likely won’t experience health or pregnancy problems any more than those who conceive naturally. If you work with an experienced fertility doctor, you will be prepared for any side effects. 

Fertility treatment and medication may have some risks, ranging from mild discomfort to serious complications. Here’s an overview of the common side effects and what to know about fertility treatment risks:

Common Risks & Side Effects of Fertility Treatment

The most common side effects of fertility treatment are often mild. Some of the most reported issues include bloating, breast tenderness, headache, hot flashes, stomach upset, and mood swings. You may experience nausea, anxiety, vomiting, and cramps. 

Common risks include multiple pregnancies/births (giving birth to twins, triplets, or more), ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, and pregnancy loss. The side effects depend on the medication/treatment, dosage, and body type. 

According to some studies, particular fertility medication can increase the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers. In rare cases, fertility treatment can result in serious risks like vision changes, ectopic pregnancies, ovarian torsion, and allergic reactions.

Side Effects of Different Fertility Drugs

Visiting a fertility doctor will expose you to different treatment options. Each treatment is unique and customized to achieve the best results. Fertility drugs/medications are the popular options. Your fertility specialist may recommend in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and other treatments. Here are the popular side effects of different types of fertility drugs: 

1.    Clomid 

While effective, Clomid can have many side effects on the user. The drug works by tricking your body into thinking estrogen levels are low. It blocks receptors that react to the estrogen hormone and can cause the side effects of perceived low estrogen. 

Common experiences include hot flashes, abdominal discomfort, headaches, mood swings, weight gain, bloating, dizziness, nausea, vaginal dryness, and breast tenderness. You may experience abnormal menstrual bleeding or spotting. 

A small percentage of users experience blurred vision, flashing, and floaters. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience such symptoms. Clomid can cause multiple pregnancies, which is common with all fertility drugs.

2.    Letrozole

Femara or Letrozole is another popular fertility drug and is used in treating breast cancer. The medication works like Clomid by blocking estrogen receptors. It can benefit people with PCOS and those who don’t ovulate when using Clomid.

Possible side effects of using Letrozole include headache, dizziness, fatigue, hot flashes, and bloating. Users may experience trouble sleeping, breast pain, and abnormal menstrual bleeding or spotting. 

Letrozole increases the risk of conceiving twins. Most people who take such fertility drugs report mild discomfort. If your symptoms are painful or persistent, speak to your fertility doctor right away.

3.    Gonadotropins 

Unlike Clomid and Letrozole, gonadotropins are injectable hormones. They can be used in isolation or with other medication during an IVF cycle. Common side effects of gonadotropins include nausea, upset stomach, boating, and absentmindedness.

Other possible symptoms include acne, weight gain, mood swings, dizziness, abdominal tenderness, and abnormal menstrual bleeding. Users may experience soreness and redness around the injection site.

The risk of multiple pregnancies is even higher with gonadotropins than with Clomid and Letrozole. Your IVF doctor will likely recommend a single embryo transfer to avoid such complications. 

4.    GnRH Agonist and Antagonists

Infertility doctors use GnRH agonists to block the natural reproductive system during IVF treatment. The medication allows your doctor to control ovarian stimulation and maturation, but you might suffer low estrogen levels.

Possible side effects of GnRH agonists include headaches, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, anxiety/mood swings, and acne. You may experience nausea, general aching and joint pain, fluid retention, stomach upsets, weight gain, and a low sex drive.

Other side effects of GnRH fertility drugs include injection site sores and dizziness. GnRH antagonists work the same as agonists by shutting down the natural reproductive system. The medication may cause abdominal tenderness, abnormal menstrual bleeding, headaches, and nausea.

Working With a Fertility Doctor

Fertility treatments usually involve hormonal medications that cause specific changes. Most people report minor changes that reduce with rest and proper diet. Make sure you eat well and follow all recommendations of your doctor. You’ll undergo a comprehensive examination to determine if you’re the right candidate to prevent complications.

A fertility doctor can help you receive effective treatments for infertility. Each person may have different reactions to the medications and treatments. Consult your doctor with any questions you have.

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