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All about infertility causes of male infertility causes of female infertility causes of infertility infertility tests female fertility tests male fertility tests infertility treatment assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments for female infertility female infertility drugs treatments for male infertility infertility prevention in vitro fertilization (IVF) intrauterine insemination (IUI) gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)

What female infertility drugs are available?

If the woman isn't producing eggs, often she can be helped with fertility drugs. Fertility drugs are fairly safe, although some researchers have voiced concern that they may increase the risk for ovarian cancer. Several of the most recent studies, however, have found no increased risk of ovarian cancer and suggest that the drugs may even protect against cervical cancer. Fertility drugs include:

Clomiphene: This drug triggers the release of FSH and LH, boosting egg growth and helping the ovaries release a monthly egg. The drug is considered safe, is fairly inexpensive, and carries less risk of multiple births than other drugs. Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome or menstruate irregularly apparently benefit most from this drug. Sixty percent of women on clomiphene successfully ovulate, and about 30 percent of women become pregnant in the first three months of being on the drug. Side effects may include nausea, insomnia, breast tenderness and headaches.

Bromocriptine: This drug suppresses a hormone called prolactin, which, if released in excessive amounts, may cause a woman to stop ovulating. Ninety percent of women on bromocriptine release eggs while on the drug. It's considered fairly safe, but side effects may include nausea, dizziness, headaches and low blood pressure.

Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (HMG): If other drugs don't work, the doctor may prescribe HMG. This drug is comprised of hormones extracted from the urine of postmenopausal women and contains large amounts of LH or FSH. Women who have trouble ovulating, endometriosis, infertility caused by cervical problems or unexplained infertility are good candidates for this drug. To monitor the woman's progress, the doctor will order regular ultrasounds to check the quality and number of eggs being released.

Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormones (LH-RH): LH-RH drugs are used when the pituitary or hypothalamus gland is not producing hormones. They are also used to treat endometriosis. Most women must administer these drugs themselves with a portable pump, and the equipment is unwieldy and expensive. Risks include an increased chance of infections and clotting, and multiple births.

Human Chorionic Gonadoptropin (hCG). Chorionic gonadoptropins are often prescribed with HMGs, and sometimes with clomipheme, to stimulate the release of the egg. They may also be used to treat endometriosis. One of these drugs, Humegon, has resulted in pregnancy in more than 26 percent of cases in clinical trials. Possible side effects are ovarian enlargement, ovarian cysts and multiple births.

Urofollitropin (FSH): This drug is made up of FSH taken from the urine of postmenopausal women. It can be used with hCG to bring on the release of an egg. It's an effective drug for women with polycystic ovary syndrome, for whom clomiphene has been ineffective.

Other medications that may cure fertility problems include:

Antibiotics - They may cure infections in the reproductive system, such as in the cervix or lining of the uterus, and some sexually transmitted diseases.

The hormone progesterone - This hormone develops the lining of the uterus and helps a fertilized egg implant.

Corticosteroids -These may be prescribed for the treatment of endometriosis.

Oral contraceptives, antiandrogens, and drugs to reduce insulin levels - These drugs are used in women with polycystic ovary syndrome to restore regular periods and ovulation and to reduce symptoms stemming from an oversupply of male hormones.

More information on infertility

What is infertility? - Infertility is the inability to achieve and/or maintain pregnancy. Infertility may due to a variety of causes, including abnormal hormonal levels, low sperm production and scarring of the fallopian tubes.
What causes infertility in men? - The most common male infertility factors include azoospermia and oligospermia. In rare cases, infertility in men is caused by a genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or a chromosomal abnormality.
What causes infertility in women? - The most common female infertility factor is an ovulation disorder. Other causes of female infertility include blocked fallopian tubes. Inability of the fertilized egg to implant in the uterus will lead to female infertility.
What causes infertility? - Causes of infertility include a wide range of physical as well as emotional factors. Infertility can be caused by any interruption in the usual process of fertilization, pregnancy, and birth.
How is infertility diagnosed? - In the male, sperm examination and sperm count is commonly done. In females, the basal body temperature is recorded each morning over several months to find any ovulatory disorders.
What female fertility tests are available? - Blood tests that measure the levels of various hormones. The doctor may want to measure the man's testosterone levels to see if they are high enough. Basal body temperature (BBT) can be measured at home using a special thermometer to help predict the most fertile days.
What male tertility tests are available? - A semen analysis is the most common testing procedure for determining if there is a male infertility factor. Semen analysis is the mainstay of male testing.
What treatments are available to cure infertility? - The ultimate goal of infertility treatment is a healthy pregnancy and the birth of one healthy infant. There are various treatments for infertility, depending what the problem is.
What is assisted reproductive technology (ART)? - Assisted reproductive technologies are medical treatments to overcome infertility. The most common type of ART is in vitro fertilization.
What are the treatments for female infertility? - Assisted reproductive technology (ART) combines the use of fertility drugs - hormonal therapy with artificial insemination using any of a group of techniques. Acupuncture may also be helpful.
What medicines treat female infertility? - Clomiphene triggers the release of FSH and LH, boosting egg growth and helping the ovaries release a monthly egg. Bromocriptine suppresses a hormone called prolactin. LH-RH drugs are used when the pituitary or hypothalamus gland is not producing hormones.
What are the treatments for male infertility? - Low sperm counts can be treated by collecting and concentrating healthy sperm for insemination or assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment.
How to prevent infertility? - Most types of infertility cannot be prevented. Smoking has been linked to low sperm counts. Alcohol affects the fertility of both men and women. Excessive exercise can lead to menstrual disorders in women and affect sperm production in men.
What is in vitro fertilization (IVF)? - In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process used to conceive a child outside the body. In vitro fertilization is a method of assisted reproduction that involves removing eggs from a woman's ovary, combining the egg with sperm in a dish and replacing the resulting embryos in the woman's uterus.
What is intrauterine insemination (IUI)? - Intrauterine insemination is a procedure in which a fine catheter is inserted through the cervix into the uterus to deposit a sperm sample directly into the uterus.
What is gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)? - Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) is an infertility treatment in which eggs are removed from a woman's ovaries, and placed in one of the fallopian tubes, along with the man's sperm.
What is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)? - Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an in vitro fertilisation procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg.
What is zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)? - Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is technique in which a woman's egg is fertilized outside the body, then implanted in one of her fallopian tubes.
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