What side effects to fertility drugs have?
Side effects are very important considerations of patients and as part of the consultation we spend a considerable amount of time taking patients through understanding what they may experience. Referring back to what side effects you may experience will again depend on what protocol you will be using and what drugs will be used in his part of the treatment.
Referring back to what side effects you may experience will again depend on what protocol you will be using and what drugs will be used in his part of the treatment.
As far as broad principles, if you’re using a down-regulation or a long protocol, we will be using injections like Buserelin, or nasal spray such as Naferelin, where the side effect profile is very similar.
The purpose of what we’re trying to achieve here is we’re trying to shut down the ovaries for a short period of time which stops the natural follicle recruitment and then we can take over the control of the cycle when we come to the stimulation phase. The side effects that you would experience comes from low oestrogen levels because of these treatments.
You may experience headaches or hot flashes. These are the common ones but some patients may experience changes in mood but the majority of these symptoms are a more about quality of life. They are not serious or life-threatening and they can be managed easily by maintaining good fluid intake. You can take simple analgesics such as paracetamol during the down-regulation phase without affecting the outcome of the treatment.
When we move on to the stimulation phase some of the side effects that you’re experiencing such as headaches and hot flashes will settle because now the oestrogen levels in the body increase rapidly, much more than what it actually is there. The majority of hot flashes and head aches should settle. However, what you might not see would be more mood changes and mood swings.
Some patients may respond by having a low mood, some experience getting fatigued and tired easily, while some may not experience any side effects at all. As you come closer to the egg collection you can start experiencing some dull aching in the lower part of the belly. That’s nothing to do with the drugs, but more related to the ovaries responding to this stimulation drugs that stretches the lining of the belly and gives rise to the dull ache before the eggs are ready for collection.
Moving further on into the treatment, after the egg collection when you start using the progesterone supplements either as a pessary suppository or as an injection, the progesterone in itself can give you certain side effects. Again, the majority of them is more related to low mood changes. That’s one of the most common ones.
You may be using lots of injections as part of the treatment but the good news is that there are very few local injection site reactions. At most, we might see a rash, and the rash is usually self-limiting. We generally do not change medications because of minor symptoms such as rash, but we will certainly keep an eye on it.
These are some of the side effects you may broadly experience. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. It depends again, on the medications and the individual interaction your body with each of the drugs that have been used.