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Ask a Fertility Nurse: Are There Any Over-the-Counter Fertility Drugs?

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by Gina Paoletti-Falcone, RN, BSN, Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, July 1, 2010

Question:

Are there any over-the-counter fertility drugs?


Nurse Gina Says:

That’s a really good question, especially since there are so many other medical conditions that can be treated with over-the-counter medications!

When it comes to infertility, however, there really are no over-the-counter options and for a very good reason.

Fertility Meds

The fertility medications that we use as part of treatment protocols can be thought of in four groups:

    1. Drugs that prevent ovulation like birth control pills, leuprolide acetate, Cetrotide and Ganirelix acetate

    2. Drugs that indirectly or directly stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg like Clomid, Bravelle, Follistim, Gonal-f, Luveris, Menopur and Repronex

    3. Drugs that make eggs mature and ovulate or prepare them for egg retrieval like HCG, Novarel and Ovidrel

    4. Drugs that are the hormones that women produce in a natural menstrual cycle like estrace, estradiol valerate, Climara, Vivelle, Crinone, Prometrium, Endometrin, Progesterone in Oil and Progesterone vaginal suppositories.

Additionally, there is baseline testing that should be done before a treatment protocol with fertility medications begins. Women need evaluation of their baseline hormone levels (FSH, estradiol, TSH and prolactin), Rubella and Varicella titres and infectious disease testing as well as an evaluation of the uterus and fallopian tubes (hysterosalpingogram). Men need infectious disease testing and a semen analysis.

Test results allow a fertility specialist to diagnose and treat abnormalities and choose the most appropriate treatment plan and fertility medications for individual situations.

Once a treatment cycle begins, response to the prescribed medications is monitored using transvaginal ultrasound to look at the ovaries and blood work to evaluate hormone levels so that procedures can be scheduled at the optimal time. All of this requires careful supervision and detailed instructions by health care professionals.

Conception Aides

Having said all that, there are some over-the-counter medications and aides that can be used when couples are still in that “trying to conceive” on their own time.

Both men and women can benefit from taking a multivitamin each day. Ovulation Predictor Kits like First Response and Clear Plan and devices like OV Watch and OvaCue help women “predict” when they will ovulate so they can have intercourse at the right time in their cycle.

It is recommended that women under age 35 who are having regular periods every 28 to 32 days have intercourse when they are ovulating for a year before they need a fertility evaluation and that women over 35 with regular periods every 28 to 32 days try for 6 months. Taking vitamins and having sex several days before and during ovulation are easy ways to optimize chances for pregnancy. And when couples experience difficulties in trying to conceive, it’s nice to know that there are a variety of treatments and medications that fertility specialists can use to make a baby a reality.

Do you have a questions for me? Ask it here! Perhaps I'll answer it in an upcoming "Ask a Fertility Nurse" column!

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Gina Paoletti-Falcone, RN, BSN is a graduate of Northeastern University and has worked in Women’s Health since 1978. In 2004, Gina joined Freedom Fertility Pharmacy as the Clinical Educator responsible for developing infertility educational content for employees, patients, nurse, and managed care plans in print and online. Gina writes a fertility blog on the Freedom Fertility Pharmacy website and enjoys educating and empowering patients to take an active role in their fertility treatment.

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