Medical options for female infertility

When a woman is struggling with infertility, medication is often the next step. There are a number of treatment options available to help infertile women get pregnant. It might take some time to find a medication that works, but anyone who’s gotten pregnant after fertility medication can agree that the process is worth it.

The types of medications that a woman may try depend on their specific health needs. However, there are a few medications that stand out in terms of effectiveness and frequency of use by healthcare providers.

Clomiphene citrate (Clomid)

Clomid is usually the first medication that healthcare providers prescribe to treat infertility issues. Clomid blocks estrogen receptors in the hypothalamus, which then stimulates production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones stimulate eggs, and signal for ovulation. Most women start Clomid on the fifth day of their menstrual period, and then continue taking it for five days.

It takes anywhere from five to ten days after starting Clomid for a woman to ovulate. After three treatment cycles, many women are able to get pregnant; if they’re unable to get pregnant, their provider might have them try a new form of treatment.


When Clomid doesn’t work, a provider might prescribe gonadotropin injections. These are hormones that the body releases to help fertility and improve the quality of a person’s sperm or eggs. In many cases, taking some kind of combination of gonadotropins helps a woman get pregnant, because her pituitary gland hasn’t been producing enough of the hormones.

Two of the more common gonadotropins that someone could take are follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH); a woman could take one or both during fertility treatment. Human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, is the hormone that pregnancy tests look for to detect pregnancy, and may sometimes be given as an injection to induce ovulation.

Bromocriptine or cabergoline

These hormones help reduce prolactin, a hormone in the body that prevents ovulation. If a healthcare provider notices that a woman who has been struggling with infertility also has high levels of prolactin in her blood, the provider might prescribe a woman these medications to help lower those levels and start ovulation again. Both bromocriptine and cabergoline have high success rates, and have mild to moderate side effects that include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.


This medication may sound familiar as many people take it for diabetes treatment as it lowers blood sugar. Women with PCOS have increased hormone levels and insulin insensitivity, and Metformin combats both of these issues. Metformin is normally taken orally two or three times a day. It’s not uncommon for a provider to prescribe someone Metformin and Clomid together; while a small percentage of women are helped by just Metformin, the two medications together have a higher success rate than either medication alone.

Talk to your provider if you have any questions about these medications. He or she can tell you more information about them, as well as how they relate to your fertility experience.

  • “Fertility Treatment for Females.” NIH. US Department of Health and Human Services, July 2 2013. Web.
  • “What is Clomid?” Drugs. Cerner Multum, Inc, Jan 18 2016. Web.
  • “Gonadotropins.” Drugs. Cerner Multum, Inc, 2016. Web.
  • Healthwise Staff. “Bromocriptine Mesylate or Cabergoline for Infertility.” UofMHealth. Healthwise Inc, Mar 19 2010. Web.
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