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Infertility Meds: The Skinny (and Not-So Skinny) on Side Effects

  • Clomid

    Clomid (or Serophene) is an oral medication commonly prescribed for women starting an infertility regimen. Potential side effects include hot flashes, headaches, bloating, cramping and mood disturbances. Cut yourself some slack, and manage mood swings as best as you can. For hot flashes, try baby powder to keep clammy skin at bay. Talk to your doctor if side effects seem severe.

  • Progesterone

    Typically prescribed to help maintain pregnancy, progesterone can be given orally, vaginally or intramuscularly. Since progesterone is a hormone that kicks in during the second half of the menstural cycle and the beginning stages of pregnancy, side effects may remind you of PMS symptoms or pregnancy symptoms, only a bit more severe. Watch for sleepiness, mood swings, swollen and sore breasts, bloating and headaches.

  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)

    Medications containing hCG, including Ovidrel and Novarel, are used to trigger ovulation. The medications are typically given as an injection. Side effects tend to be mild and might include irritation of the injection site, headaches or bloating.

  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

    Typically given as an injection, follicle-stimulating hormone increases follicle size and count during a medicated cycle. Brand names for FSH shots include Follistim, Bravelle and Gonal-F. Be prepared for possible irritation at the injection site, cramping or abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, bloating and mood swings.

  • GnRH Agonists

    Used to either prevent canceled cycles or delay ovulation so that the body has a longer time to produce more quality follicles, GnRH agonists are typically delivered by injection (Lupron or Ganirelix) or as a nasal spray (Synarel). Side effects can be intense with these medications and might include hot flashes, headache, mood swings, vaginal dryness and insomnia.

  • Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (hMG)

    These injectable medications are similar to follicle-stimulating hormones but also include luteinizing hormone, which stimulates the ovaries to release multiple eggs in the same cycle. Common hMG medications include Menopur and Repronex. Watch for bloating, headache, mood swings and abdominal pain or cramping.