All you need to know about over the counter fertility pills

fertility  pills

Fertility problems in women can occur due to myriad reasons such as effects of a previous illness, the result of a certain lifestyle, hormonal imbalance, ovarian or uterus cysts, menstrual irregularities, etc. However, over the course of years, fertility pills have only increased in popularity to help women with these issues have a chance at conceiving. But before you rush to the pharmacy to get your hands on the first batch of fertility pills, let’s walk through all that there is to know about these things.

What are fertility pills?

Essentially, fertility pills contain hormones that help you ovulate. There are various types of fertility pills available today, based on how they help you conceive.

Oral contraceptives: Although normally used to avoid pregnancy, short courses of these pills can help regularise the menstrual cycle and stabilise sex hormone levels, thus making conception more likely after the course is completed. However, make sure you start your course of oral contraceptives only after thoroughly consulting with your doctor.

Stimulating drugs: These drugs serve a two-pronged purpose. First, they stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg. Then, they stimulate the egg to mature faster. Stimulating drug should only be taken on a prescription basis.

Hormone producing drugs: Basically, these pills help you produce more fertility hormones than the body produces by itself. Hormone producing drugs are safest when taken on a prescription basis after consulting with an obstetrician.

Out of these, oral contraceptives are perhaps the most commonly available and easily accessible drugs to improve fertility. When taken in combination with some other medications such as Clomiphene Citrate (administered only by professionals), it helps to ensure that the egg is retrieved from the ovaries at a predicted time. But, remember, this is your body and your hormones we’re talking about. Avoid risks by seeking help from your doctor.

How does this work?

If ovulation is irregular or absent, oral contraceptives will bring the menstrual cycle back on track, while Clomiphene Citrate will help produce eggs. When your menstrual cycle is about to begin the hypothalamus (a part of your brain responsible for various hormonal functions) will release a hormone called Gonadotrophin-releasing Hormone (GnRH). This hormone needs to be released in the exact amount – too much or too little and ovulation will not happen. The medication stimulates the release of GnRH, which causes the Pituitary Gland to release more Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH). These hormones promote growth of fluid filled sacs containing the eggs, thereby eventually facilitating egg retrieval.

This method is completely safe, as long as you follow it in short courses. If pregnancy hasn’t occurred after three attempts to the treatment, it’s time to give up on this method entirely.

Alternatively, if the above method fails to yield results, there’s hormonal medication that includes doses of FSH and LH. These hormones are called gonadotrophins and are usually naturally found in humans. You can inject these into your system all by yourself easily, with a pen like device. These injections stimulate the ovaries to form multiple follicles and eggs. For instance, Follicle Stimulating Hormone promotes development of egg-containing follicles, whereas Luteinising Hormone helps the eggs mature and release.

In addition to the above-mentioned hormones, a GnRH agonist is also administered often. This hormone signals the pituitary gland to make extra FSH and LH, but then pushes these hormone levels to drop instantly. What does this do? After about two weeks of following this medication routine, your menstrual cycle, hormones and ovulation have all come a standstill. This in turn controls premature ovulation, the timing of egg collection and promotes an increase in the number of eggs.

Are there any risks?

It is extremely important to take fertility medications in short, measured and controlled courses, for it to be safe and you to not face any side effects. Increased dependence on these treatments may lead to multiple pregnancy, which is risky for you as well as the foetus. Hormonal shots can also cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. This is why, it’s extremely important to consult with your doctor on the course timelines, the medications or if this is even the right method for you.


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