Clomid for Infertility: Pros and Cons
While in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of fertility treatment, there are several less invasive, less expensive options your doctor may want to explore.
Clomid has been a popular choice amongst intended parents for more than 50 years. While it certainly boasts longevity in a field that has rapidly evolved in the past several decades, there are both pros and cons to taking this little pill.
Pro: Clomid can regulate or induce ovulation.
Thanks to clomiphene citrate, known as Clomid and also sold generically under other brand names like Serophene, millions of women have become pregnant since it first hit the market in 1967. The oral pill works to regulate or induce ovulation, stimulating the number of hormones that support the growth and release of a mature egg in women who are not ovulating regularly enough to get pregnant. The typical protocol is a 50mg dose per day on days 3 to 7 of the menstrual cycle, though precise treatment will vary by individual.
Most women will ovulate 7 to 10 days after Clomid, which means you’re most likely to conceive on days 11 through 21 of your cycle. Statistics show that, when taken as directed, 80 percent of women will respond to the treatment and successfully ovulate on Clomid.
Con: It doesn’t identify other potential fertility issues.
Clomid strictly addresses ovulation; if that is the only barrier preventing a woman from becoming pregnant, it’s likely that she’ll have success with Clomid. The problem is that this particular treatment doesn’t address other potential issues. Infertility can be related to anything from egg quality to low sperm count to structural complications and beyond; if there are additional factors at play, Clomid alone will not get you any closer to pregnancy.
Before you start Clomid as a fertility treatment, your doctor should complete full diagnostic testing and an ultrasound to help rule out other obvious problems.
Pro: Clomid is successful as a first treatment option.
If a woman is in the early stages of fertility treatment, Clomid is a natural first choice. It can be a non-invasive option; some women are able to conceive without intervention after a round of Clomid, bypassing the need for additional treatment.
Others who successfully ovulate with Clomid are able to achieve pregnancy when the treatment is followed by intrauterine insemination (IUI), where sperm is transferred directly into the uterus.
Con: The success rates haven’t changed over time.
While the rate of ovulation is high, what are the chances of getting pregnant on Clomid? The rate of conception varies depending on a number of factors, including age and diagnosis. A woman under 35 with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), for example, has about a 15 percent chance of pregnancy per cycle assuming all other factors are normal. While advanced reproductive technology (ART) rates have steadily improved over time, results with Clomid alone remain stagnant. Without other obvious factors impeding fertility it can be a good option, but be sure to have a thorough discussion with your doctor regarding Clomid’s success rates before you start treatment.
Pro: Clomid can be prescribed by your general practitioner or gynecologist.
Unlike most fertility treatment, Clomid can be completed under the supervision of your gynecologist. Some women prefer to take this first step before meeting with a specialist to pursue a more rigorous form of treatment. It’s important to have a solid understanding of your particular situation before trying to conceive with Clomid; your doctor should first complete thorough testing or refer you to a reproductive endocrinologist to review your options.
Con: You don’t have the expertise of a reproductive endocrinologist.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, you probably wanted to get pregnant yesterday. A reproductive endocrinologist is the most qualified person to help you do that. It’s recommended that if you’re under the age of 35 and have been trying for a year without success you should see a specialist; over 35 should wait only 6 months. A reproductive endocrinologist has the experience and the tools to help you identify the best course of action; whether that’s Clomid or a more aggressive form of treatment, you’ll know that you’re using your time, energy and finances wisely.
Like any medication, Clomid can also have side effects; clomiphene citrate, the synthetic estrogen found in Clomid, can cause mood swings, irritability, anxiety and sleep interruptions, as well as other physical side effects like bloating, hot flashes and headaches. The side effects of Clomid are relatively similar to those in other fertility medications, and some won’t experience issues at all. A fertility clinic’s staff will be best able to prepare you for your treatment protocol and potential side effects.
If you’re exploring your family building options, our team is here to help guide you. Learn more about the different kinds of fertility treatment on our blog, or contact us for more information!