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Ask a Fertility Nurse: Can I Use Expired Fertility Meds?

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by Gina Paoletti-Falcone, RN, BSN, Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, January 31, 2011


I have two Gonal-f pens that my friend gave me. The expiration date on them is December 31, 2010. I am doing an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in February. Is it OK to use them past the expiration date?

Nurse Gina Says:

It is very tempting to accept and use donated fertility medication that is essential to your fertility treatment and expensive if you don’t have insurance coverage. As long as you trust that your friend stored the medication properly and it is not past the expiration date it would be fine to use it. But what you have is expired medication. Pharmaceutical companies put an expiration date on their products for a reason. They have established a time frame in which they are confident that they can guarantee the safety and efficacy of the medication. They do not guarantee the safety or efficacy beyond that time frame, thus the expiration date.

Does that mean that your Gonal-f is “OK” on December 31 and “no good” on January 1? Probably not. If you think about it logically, it makes more sense that there is a gradual decline in the efficacy of the medication. I admit I’ve taken ibuprofen that was a month or two past the expiration date and believe I got the relief I expected, but I didn’t have an IVF cycle riding on it. The problem with using expired medications in fertility treatment cycles is that your medication protocol and your response to it can have a huge impact on the result of your cycle. No one can absolutely assure you that the medication is “OK” when the manufacturer is telling you not to use it past a specific date. So if you use it and don’t respond well you’ll never really know if it was the medication or you, and you may be past the point of making an adjustment.

I would always suggest that you have a discussion with your physician when it comes to medications for your treatment protocols. Depending on your clinical situation, he or she may be more or less comfortable with you using expired medication.


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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