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What do I Need to Know About Gonadotropins?
Gonadotropins are a commonly-prescribed class of fertility treatment drugs that help by causing multiple eggs to grow to maturity. These injectable meds are often used when you are undergoing fertility treatments like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Though these drugs are widely used, they are not without side effects. We break down the big ones below:
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
This syndrome is characterized by swollen, painful ovaries and fluid accumulation that arises as a result of the ovarian-stimulating drugs. According to the ASRM, a mild form of OHSS occurs in about 10 to 20% of cycles. While this can cause some discomfort, it usually resolves on its own. Severe cases, on the other hand, develop in approximately 1% of the cases.
If you are using gonadotropins alone or with IUI, there’s a chance a resulting pregnancy will be with multiples. In fact, according to the ASRM, up to 30% of pregnancies in these cases are associated with twins or higher-order multiples. The occurs because the gonadotropins stimulate multiple eggs during ovulation induction. And multiples can be dangerous, since they are associated with risks like miscarriage, preterm delivery, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, and abnormalities to the babies.
Ectopic pregnancies occur in only about 1 to 2% of natural pregnancies, but the rate for those associated with gonadotropin use is slightly higher. These can be life-threatening, so immediate medical attention—and treatment with meds or surgery—is necessary.
Because these gonadotropins are injectable, there may be some skin irritation associated with the shots. Other effects to the shots include breast tenderness, headaches, or mood swings.
Watch as Dr. David Keenan explains: How Can We Reduce the Risk of Multiples While Using Fertility Drugs?
Click image to play.