Oral Fertility Medications

Learn more about oral fertility medications that help patients become parents

The doctors at our Southern California fertility clinic use oral fertility medications to help patients ovulate. The two primary medications are Clomid® (clomiphene citrate) and Femara® (letrozole). Often, patients take one of these medications before intrauterine insemination (IUI) to increase their likelihood of conceiving.

For women who are not ovulating, these medications can cause ovulation induction. In women who can ovulate, these medications can cause superovulation, which means the ovaries release multiple eggs.

Clomid is one of the most common oral fertility medications

Many doctors prescribe Clomid for women who need extra support to produce fully mature eggs. Clomid induces ovulation by blocking estrogen receptors and making the body believe it has less estrogen than it does. In response, the body increases the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which causes enhanced follicle stimulation and ovulation.

Dosage. Most doctors recommend women take one tablet of Clomid for five days, typically starting on Day 3 of the menstrual cycle. Ovulation normally occurs five to 12 days after the last dose.

Monitoring. The woman receives an ultrasound before she begins Clomid. She’ll have another one five to seven days after her last dose to evaluate her response to the medication.

Increased chance of multiples. Fertility doctors make sure to inform women that Clomid gives them about a 5% to 12% chance of having twins, but triplets or higher order multiples occur less than 1% of the time.

Pregnancy rates. Typically, Clomid triggers ovulation in 70% to 80% of women and provides about a 5.6% to 20% chance of conception each cycle. However, it’s important to note that a woman’s age, egg quality and the presence of factors like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), affect her chance of conceiving after taking Clomid.

Side effects. Common side effects of Clomid include hot flashes, breast tenderness, mood swings and nausea.

Our Southern California fertility clinic supports women in determining if Clomid is the ideal option for their fertility needs.

Femara is another medication doctors prescribe for ovulation induction

One of the other common oral fertility medications is Femara. Femara is an aromatase inhibitor, which means it causes the pituitary gland to release FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH). The release of FSH and LH then triggers the maturation of eggs.

Dosage. Women typically take two tablets of Femara daily, starting on Day 3 of their menstrual cycle and ending on Day 7.

Monitoring. Doctors recommend an ultrasound and a pregnancy test before a woman begins Femara as well as an ultrasound after her final dose.

Chance of multiples. The rate of twins in women taking Femara is about 3% to 5%.

Pregnancy rates. Some fertility doctors choose to prescribe Femara instead of Clomid. Some studies show Femara results in higher rates of pregnancy, especially in women with PCOS.

Side effects. Many women have fewer side effects when taking Femara than they do on Clomid. Common side effects include headache, muscle aches, nausea and fatigue.

Ovulation induction with oral fertility medications is an effective path to parenthood for many women. Our Southern California fertility clinic will order fertility tests to help determine if Clomid, Femara or other fertility medications will give a woman the best chance of developing a healthy pregnancy. Contact us for more information about ovulation induction.