Infertility treatments often include the use of fertility drugs. For women who are not achieving ovulation, some fertility drugs are used to stimulate eggs to develop and then be released for fertilization.
This type of infertility treatment is also known as “ovulation induction.” For women who are ovulating some fertility drugs are used to increase their chances of conceiving.
This type of infertility treatment is known as “superovulation”. For many years infertility specialists have been using the drug Clomiphene Citrate for both ovulation induction and superovulation.
One of the problems with Clomiphene Citrate is that it remains in the body for a long period of time and therefore can have some adverse side effects on both the lining of the uterus and on cervical mucus.
Many women don’t respond positively to Clomiphene Citrate as well. A more recent fertility drug that has been getting a lot of attention is Letrozole.
Studies indicate that pregnancy rates in women using Letrozole are similar to those rates of women using Clomiphene Citrate but without the side effects.
Letrozole works by suppressing estrogen levels in the body while increasing FSH and LH hormone levels. This then encourages the development of the ovarian follicles and leads to ovulation.
Are You a Candidate for Letrozole?
For women who are having difficulty conceiving, doctors may prescribe Letrozole if it’s suspected that the reason you’re not able to conceive is due to an abnormal ovulation cycle.
One reason you might be prescribed Letrozole is if you’ve been taking Clomiphene Citrate and ovulation has still not happened.
You may also be a candidate for Letrozole even if ovulation occurred while you were taking Clomiphene Citrate but the endometrium (the inner membrane of the uterus) was too thin.
Yet another reason your doctor may feel that you’re a good candidate for taking Letrozole for your infertility issues is if you’ve been taking Clomiphene Citrate, but have not gotten pregnant after 6 cycles. Talk to your doctor to determine if you are a candidate for taking Letrozole for your infertility issues.
Side Effects of Using Letrozole for Infertility
As with any fertility drug, Letrozole has side effects that women need to be aware of. Letrozole is successful because it reduces the levels of estrogen in the body. Low levels of estrogen can cause a variety of different symptoms in women.
Some of the side effects of using Letrozole for infertility include the following:
- Tenderness in the breasts.
- Hot flashes.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Night Sweats.
- Blurred vision.
If your fertility specialist prescribes Letrozole for you, you’ll be closely monitored for the above side effects.
Risks of Using Letrozole for Infertility
Although there has been a lot of success using Letrozole for infertility problems, there has also been a lot of controversies as well.
Some studies indicate that Letrozole can cause miscarriage in early pregnancy as well as cause numerous birth deformities.
It is however still uncertain if the women in these studies took Letrozole while they were pregnant or if they only took it prior to getting pregnant.
It appears as though the drug is harmful when administered during pregnancy but is safe to use prior to conception.
You need to make the distinction that when Letrozole is used as a fertility drug, that it’s used with the goal of overcoming your infertility by inducing ovulation.
While at the time of taking Letrozole you won’t yet be pregnant, it’s important that you understand the risk that some low levels of Letrozole may be present for some time in tissues and blood.
Talk to your doctor about the risks involved with Letrozole, so that you and your partner can make an informed decision about whether this drug is right for you and your own personal situation.
Success Using Letrozole for Infertility
When other treatments for infertility have failed, you may be successful using Letrozole.
Letrozole can be used if you’re trying to conceive with your partner through intercourse as well as if you’re opting for IUI, intrauterine insemination.
In both cases, you’ll be closely monitored by the infertility clinic to ensure that everything is going well. Letrozole is most often prescribed for those women who have some type of abnormality with their ovulation cycle.
If your ovulation cycle is normal, Letrozole may not have any influence on your ability to conceive. It’s important that you understand that Letrozole alone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to conceive.
While Letrozole can help you ovulate it can’t ensure that you’ll become pregnant. As with the drug Clomiphene Citrate, after three or four cycles of Letrozole, your doctor will most likely discontinue the drug.
At this time you may have to undergo additional infertility testing if you haven’t already done so for other infertility causes such as blocked fallopian tubes.
The encouraging news is that Letrozole is showing higher rates of pregnancy than other fertility drugs, and has the lowest rate of multiple births which can lead to pregnancy risks.