Which Hormone Is Highest When A Woman Is Most Fertile Safety of Fertility Drugs

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Safety of Fertility Drugs

The safety of fertility drugs – is it a cause for concern?

For millions of women struggling to conceive, fertility drugs are the first step

in treatment. Clomiphene works by stimulating hormones in the brain that cause an egg (or several) to develop and be released from the ovary. Gonadotropins directly stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. Females usually lay only one or two eggs per month. Human menopausal gonadotropin (HMG), urofollitropin, or recombinant FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. One of these drugs is injected into a muscle or under the skin.

What are the risks of gonadotropin treatment?

• The most common complication of gonadotropin treatment is multiple pregnancy. Of these pregnancies, two-thirds are twins and one-third are triplets.

• Although many couples consider this a blessing, many couples are at increased risk of miscarriage and other complications.

• During stimulation for natural pregnancy or IUI if three or more follicles are growing to maturity or blood estrogen exceeds a certain point, patients are asked to stop injections to avoid a condition called hyperstimulation.

• Women who take gonadotropins occasionally develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS occurs when a woman produces too many eggs after taking the drug. The ovaries swell rapidly and fluid collects in the abdomen or around the heart or lungs. About 10 to 20 percent of gonadotropin cycles result in a mild form of OHSS, which can cause sudden weight gain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, but usually goes away on its own. In 1 to 2 percent of gonadotropin cycles, OHSS is severe enough to require hospitalization and can lead to blood clots, kidney problems, or very rarely death.

• Women may experience breast tenderness, a rash or swelling at the injection site, a swollen abdomen, or mood changes during fertility treatment.

Fertility treatment and cancer

Medicines are given to stimulate the reproductive system during IVF treatment. As a result, women are exposed to high levels of estrogen, which is listed as a known carcinogen by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. But based on current research, scientists say there is little cause for concern.

Ovarian cancer itself is associated with a high risk for infertility. Infertile women have a higher incidence of ovarian cancer than the general population, but not from IVF. The drug has recently been linked to a much lower risk for non-invasive ovarian tumors. But experts don’t believe the risks are significant enough to warrant additional screening for women who have taken fertility drugs in the past.

Fertility drugs do not increase the risk of breast cancer, although they may accelerate the growth of pre-existing breast cancer. Therefore it is mandatory to check for breast diseases before starting IVF treatment.

Fertility treatments increase hormone levels for a few days that are much lower than the increased hormonal exposure during nine months of pregnancy. Therefore, the risk for the development of cancer is not alarming.

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