Drug Side Effects
One of the biggest issues for most women with PCOS is an inability to get pregnant. PCOS comes with highly irregular periods and an inability to release an egg regularly. Clomid is a drug recommended by doctors in an effort to help them get pregnant. The drug is believed to stimulate ovaries to release an egg. Treatment with clomid is complex in that it has to be perfectly timed. Women undergoing clomid treatment have the best chances of becoming pregnant in the first three months of treatment. Later on, since clomid has anti-estrogenic effects, chances of getting pregnant come down. While success rates of getting pregnant with clomid are apparently good, clomid does have side effects that should be understood.
Clomiphene citrate, the active chemical in clomid, is responsible for its fertility-inducing action. The chemical tricks the brain into believing that levels of circulating estrogen are low. Clomiphene has a structure similar to estrogen. This allows it to bind to estrogen receptors throughout the reproductive system. This binding does not allow the correct interpretation of actual levels of estrogen by the brain. This makes the brain “think” that estrogen levels are low. Reduced estrogen levels stimulate the brain into increasing the production and secretion of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). As the name suggests, this hormone drives enhanced ovarian activity. The levels of FSH rise (for 5 days till the medicine is taken, as part of a typical treatment cycle) and then fall. This tide of rising FSH triggers ovulation.
Some women may experience the following symptoms while on clomid treatment:
One of the more severe clomid side effects is abnormal vaginal bleeding and severe mood swings and irritability. Clomid also causes thinning of the walls of the uterus and reduced secretion of cervical mucus. The cervix produces copious amounts of mucus, a clear, watery substance that helps the sperms to swim up to meet up with an egg. If mucus production is impaired, sperms will easily die in an otherwise “hostile” environment. Reduced mucus production reduces fertility. But, if you are undergoing clomid treatment, you are likely using artificial insemination rather than relying on good old sex. So the problem of reduced cervical mucus production is taken care of.
A rare side effect of clomid use is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which causes symptoms like:
If you are allergic to clomid, you might develop allergic symptoms like rash, itching, dizziness, swelling on the face, tongue or throat and trouble breathing.
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the above side effects.
It is found that clomid may increase the chances of multiple births (7% twins and 0.5% triplets). This is probably the only “side effect” that is desirable!
The most popular and recognized brand name is Clomid. Other brands include:
There is a specific treatment protocol that you will need to follow for clomid and PCOS. This is, of course, designed by your doctor, but let’s understand the basics of the protocol.
There are certain drugs like antidepressants and acetaminophen that your doctor might prescribe you to reduce the severity of certain side effects of clomid. You can talk to your doctor about using the lowest possible dosage of clomid, as the severity of side effects is dose-dependent. Typically, the side effects of clomid vanish once you have stopped taking the treatment, so usually you will have a healthy pregnancy.
If there is a history of autism in your family, you should talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using fertility drugs. Although more studies are needed, there is some evidence that women who take fertility drugs for a long time may give birth to a child with autism.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to clomiphene or have any other allergies. You should not take clomid treatment if you have certain health conditions like:
Since this drug can cause dizziness and vision changes, do not operate heavy machinery or drive while you are undergoing treatment with clomid. Since this drug is used to get you pregnant, you have to stop taking it when you do get pregnant. You should NOT take this medicine if you are pregnant, because it can harm the child.
Clomid is known to interact with a drug called bexarotene that is used to treat a type of skin cancer. Using bexarotene together with clomid may increase your risks of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Another drug that clomid interacts with is ospemifene. This drug is used in women to relieve pain during sexual intercourse due to menopause. When used together, they may increase the risks of blood clots, stroke and some cancers.
Avoid herbs like
Avoid eating raw meat as it may increase the risks of bacterial infections and intoxications. Similarly, avoid canned and prepackaged foods. Avoid fishes like swordfish, mackerel and tile fish due to their high mercury content. Mercury can lead to developmental problems in the child.
It is also advisable to stay away from
Also, avoid eating papaya and pineapple. If you must, eat small portions as these fruits may cause uterine contractions and miscarriage.
Store the medicine in a clean, dry and tightly closed container. Keep it away from humidity, excess light and heat. Do not refrigerate.
Always store medicines away from young children and pets. Unused and expired medicines should be disposed of in ways that they do not get consumed by pets, children and other people. Never flush the medicines. If you are not sure about the disposal of the medicine, take it back to your pharmacist.
Clomid has been around for close to five decades and has helped millions of women get pregnant. Clomid has also found to be extremely successful in getting women with PCOS pregnant. It is also the least expensive of all fertility treatments currently available. While the chances of experiencing side effects are low, they can be troublesome and in some cases pretty serious.
Not every woman with PCOS might be the perfect candidate for clomid therapy. Clomid also increases the chances of multiple pregnancies. While this may be perceived as an unexpected benefit, it can actually be tough for both the mother and children. Reproductive specialists and Ob-Gyns have to understand the underlying factors for the infertility of the woman and take the appropriate decisions to start any therapy for improving fertility.