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Like any drug, Clomiphene citrate (Clomid) also has its side effects. Around 10% to 20% of women experience some Clomid side effects (Georgia Reproductive Specialists, 2007).
What is Clomid?
Clomid works as an anti-estrogen agent. This drug causes the cervical mucus to thicken. So, even if you ovulate your chances of pregnancy are further decreased because most sperm will not survive in a thick cervical mucus (Shirai et al, 1972).
Clomid Side effects
Other reported Clomid side effects are:
- Hot flushes
- Vaginal dryness
A more serious condition of Clomid side effects to be mindful of is ovarian hyperstimulation (Southam et al, 1962) (Scommegna et al, 1969). Ovarian hyperstimulation results in over production of follicles and accompanying fluid accumulation in the chest and the abdomen. This is potentially life threatening and needs immediate medical attention.
You can have lingering Clomid side effects for 6 to 8 weeks after you stop taking it. Clomid is prescribed for 5 days of every menstrual cycle. Usually, you start taking it on the 3rd day of your cycle and continue until the 7th day.
Ovulation & pregnancy
Around 60% to 80% of women on Clomid will ovulate. However, out of the 60-80% not all will become pregnant. Only 50% of those who ovulate are likely to conceive. Clomid-induced cycles only have a 20% to 25% chance of a pregnancy (Georgia Reproductive Specialists, 2007). If you have other fertility problems such as fibroids, your chances of pregnancy are even lower as a result of Clomid side effects. In a natural cycle there is also only a 20% chance of conception. This is because the egg lives only for 12-24 hours after ovulation. Not long at all.
PCOS and miscarriages
Risks of miscarriage or birth defects with Clomid-induced pregnancies are no higher than with normal pregnancies. However, if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome and are using Clomid to help you conceive, your risks of a miscarriage may be higher. This is due to poorer egg quality to begin with. Due to hormonal imbalances in PCOS eggs cannot mature and develop properly. Conception with such an egg predisposes the baby to malformations and you to miscarriage. Clomid cannot improve the egg quality, it can only force your body to ovulate. Natural medicine on the other hand works on improving the quality of your eggs by regulating the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS.
There is also an increased risk of multiple births when on Clomid. Around 10% of women who took Clomid had twins. About 1 in 400 Clomid pregnancies resulted in triplets and 1 in 800 resulted in quadruplets (Georgia Reproductive Specialists, 2007).
Long term use
Studies have shown long-term use of Clomid (more than 12 menstrual cycles) can increase your risks of ovarian cancer (Georgia Reproductive Specialists, 2007) (Rossing et al, 1994).
Long-term exposure to Clomid side effects may also increase your chances of developing ovarian cysts. (Georgia Reproductive Specialists, 2007). The cysts will usually shrink within a few weeks without treatment but in some cases the cysts may cause internal bleeding and will need to be surgically removed.
Natural alternatives have little to no side effects. Before you try any herbal remedies or supplements, check with your doctor as they may be contraindicated for use with your medication.
The herb, Evening Primrose, has gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an essential fatty acid which induces production of cervical mucus. Fertile cervical mucus makes it easier for sperm to swim through the vagina to the cervix. Take evening primrose extract only from menstruation to ovulation because it may cause uterine contractions.
Drink a cup of green tea a day. The active antioxidants in green tea may boost your odds of conception. A study by the American Journal of Public Health shows that daily intake of green tea may double your chances of pregnancy in each cycle.
Chasteberry is shown to regulate progesterone levels and estrogen levels. Normal hormone levels promote a healthy luteal phase. During the luteal phase a fertilized egg will try to implant in the endometrial lining of the uterus. If your luteal phase is too short, your fertilized egg will not have enough time to implant and your period will start early, increasing your chances of a miscarriage.
Clomid success rates are very similar to those on a natural cycle but with many risks. Ideally you should use the natural treatments first before you take fertility drugs such as Clomid.
What are your thoughts on Clomid side effects? Have you taken any of the natural alternatives? Would love to hear from you!
- Georgia Reproductive Specialists.2007.IVF.com. 18 February 2011
- Opposing Views. 2010. Opposing Views, Inc. 18 February 2011
- Rossing MA, Daling JR, Weiss NS, Moore DE, Self SG. Ovarian tumors in a cohort of infertile women. N Engl J Med. Sep 22 1994;331(12):771-6.
- Scommegna A, Lash SR. Ovarian overstimulation, massive ascites, and Singleton pregnancy after clomiphene. JAMA. Jan 27 1969;207(4):753-5.
- Shirai E, Iizuka R, Notake Y. Clomiphene citrate and its effects upon ovulation and estrogen. Fertil Steril. May 1972;23(5):331-8
- Southam AL, Janovski NA. Massive ovarian hyperstimulation with clomiphene citrate. JAMA. 1962;181:443.
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