Patient Resources

How Fertility Medications Work

If you have been struggling with infertility issues, your doctor may prescribe medicine to help you get pregnant. These fertility medications cause your body to release hormones that trigger ovulation, in which an egg is released from your ovary. Even if you are using another method, such as IVF, fertility medications are still an important part of treatment.


Clomiphene citrate may be prescribed to you if you are not ovulating normally. These medications are taken orally and stimulate ovulation by causing the pituitary gland to release more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones stimulate the growth of an ovarian follicle containing an egg. Clomid and Serophene are the brand names of clomiphene and are known as estrogen-blocking drugs. 


Gonadotropins are injected treatments that stimulate the ovary directly to produce multiple eggs, rather than stimulating the pituitary gland to release more hormones. These medications include human menopausal gonadotropin or hMG (Menopur) and FSH (Gonal-F, Follistim AQ, Bravelle). Human chorionic gonadotropin (Ovidrel, Pregnyl) is used to mature eggs and trigger their release at the time of ovulation. There are concerns for higher risk of conceiving multiples and premature delivery with gonadotropin use. 


Metformin is used when insulin resistance is the cause of infertility, usually in women with a PCOS diagnosis. This medication helps improve insulin resistance, which can help improve the likelihood of ovulation. 

Risks of Fertility Medications

Oral medications typically carry a low risk of multiples, but mostly a risk of twins. Injectable medications carry the risk of triplets or more. The more fetuses you are carrying, the greater the risk of premature labor, low birth weight, and later developmental problems. Injectable fertility medications that are used to induce ovulation can also cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which causes swollen and painful ovaries. Signs and symptoms, which include mild abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, usually fade away without treatment. 

NCCRM’s experienced nursing staff instructs patients and their partners on how to administer the medications over the course of a cycle. Daily instructions are given in a timely manner with a teamwork approach to achieve the best results. 


The North Carolina Center for Reproductive Medicine (NCCRM) is the premiere center for reproductive health in North Carolina and the East Coast. It was established in 1992 to provide advanced reproductive techniques to couples who dream of having a child of their own. Our team specializes in fertility testing, diagnosis, and treatment of infertility conditions. We’re experts in IVF, Tubal Ligation Reversal, Male Infertility, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Gestation Surrogacy, Family Balancing and more.

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