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How do fertility pills work?

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Quick Answer

Fertility pills typically work by causing the brain to release the hormones that stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs, explains. Doctors commonly prescribe the fertility drug Clomid or Serophine, known generically as clomiphene, to women experiencing ovulation problems. Clomiphene blocks estrogen to allow the brain to release GnRH, or gonadotropin releasing hormone; FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone; and LH, luteinizing hormone, which are the hormones responsible for triggering ovulation.

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Clomiphene has been in use for more than 40 years and has a 60 to 80 percent success rate in inducing ovulation and about a 50 percent success rate in causing pregnancy, according to WebMD. The side effects are generally mild, but about 10 percent of women taking clomiphene report experiencing hot flashes, mood swings, depression and breast tenderness. Nausea, headaches and visual disturbances are also common, notes AttainFertility. There is also about a 10 percent likelihood for women who become pregnant when taking clomiphene to have twins.

In the case that clomiphene treatment is not successful in aiding pregnancy, doctors may recommend injectable hormones as the next fertility drug option. There are several different types of injectable hormones that, similar to the fertility pills, stimulate or control ovulation, reports WebMD. Some women may receive prescriptions for combinations of fertility pills and injections.

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