Clomiphene citrate, also known by its brand names Clomid and Serophene, is a drug you have probably heard about. You may be curious how Clomid works and when you might need to take Clomid. Clomid is a fertility drug used to induce ovulation. It is the most commonly prescribed fertility drug. If you are having problems trying to get pregnant, you may be thinking about talking to your doctor about prescribing Clomid. How do you know if Clomid is right for you?
Clomid is an ovulation induction medication.
Not all women with fertility problems should take Clomid. Your doctor should screen you to see if Clomid is recommended. Couples that have been trying to conceive and have not gotten pregnant could have any number of problems. Proper testing and evaluation by a doctor is necessary to determine what is the best course of action for you. If you are not ovulating, ovulating irregularly, or have irregular periods Clomid may be recommended for you.
During the first half of a normal menstrual cycle, follicles in your ovaries begin to mature and enlarge. Each of these follicles contains an egg. These follicles nurture the growing egg. As they mature, they produce estrogen. Estrogen levels are low in the beginning of your cycle.
Your body communicates with hormones. Low estrogen levels tell your body to produce GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone). GnRH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the production of FSH and LH.
FSH, which stands for follicle stimulating hormone, does exactly what it sounds like, it stimulates the follicles to grow and mature. As they grow and ripen they produce more estrogen. This rise in estrogen triggers a release of LH, also known as an LH surge. When LH levels surge, it signals the mature egg to be released from the follicle. Ovulation occurs within 12-24 hours after the LH surge.
How does Clomid work to induce ovulation?
Clomid works by blocking estrogen receptors in the brain.
Hormones are your body’s way of communicating. Hormones attach to hormone receptors to communicate. Think of it like a puzzle piece that fits together. When estrogen attaches to its receptor cell in the hypothalamus it communicates and lets the brain know that estrogen levels are increasing. Clomid has a similar structure to estrogen. Clomid attaches to the receptor cell in the hypothalamus, which keeps the estrogen from attaching. Because the Clomid is blocking the receptors, they don’t get the signal from the estrogen and this essentially tricks your body into thinking there is not enough estrogen. Your body tries to kick up the production of estrogen by producing more GnRH. GnRH is what causes the release of FSH and LH. And FSH is what makes the follicles ripen and produce more estrogen. If the Clomid does what it is supposed to, your body will be tricked into producing more FSH and LH, which will hopefully cause your body to ovulate.
How do you know if you need Clomid?
Your doctor will want to see if you are ovulating normally. If you have an irregular cycle there is a good chance you are not ovulating normally. It is a good idea to keep a record of your cycle if you are trying to conceive. Keeping a bbt chart of your cycles will help your doctor determine whether or not you are ovulating. You may also want to use a fertility monitor. Fertility monitors, such as the Clear Blue Easy monitor, are a great way to determine if and when you are ovulating. If you are not ovulating or ovulating irregularly your doctor may order tests and/or prescribe Clomid.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dosage of Clomid. Standard starting dosage is around 50 mg. Clomid is generally given on days 3-7 or days 5-9 of your cycle. (Three days after your period starts or five days after your period starts) If you are not having a regular period, your doctor may prescribe medication to induce a period. He will give you a pregnancy test before he does this. Clomid is taken orally and should be taken the same time each day for five days. If ovulation occurs it is generally a week or so after taking your last dosage of Clomid. Your doctor will probably have you keep a bbt chart or use an ovulation prediction kit to see if you have ovulated. He may also perform an ultrasound to check the number and size of the developing follicles.
Clomid Side Effects
Because Clomid works to block estrogen receptors, it not only blocks the receptors in the hypothalamus, but it also blocks the receptors in the cervix. Estrogen helps encourages the production of fertile cervical mucous. With the receptor cells being blocked your body may produce dry or hostile cervical mucous which is not the best environment for transporting sperm into the uterus. Your doctor may prescribe a low dose of estrogen to help with this. Other side effects of Clomid are hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, visual disturbances, and hyperstimulation syndrome. Tylenol may help to relieve some of these symptoms. There is also a ten percent chance of having twins while taking Clomid.
How long should I take Clomid?
Your doctor will start off with a low dosage of Clomid and may increase your dosage if ovulation does not occur. Most authorities recommend taking Clomid for no more than six cycles. If pregnancy does not occur in this time frame, your doctor will probably look into another treatment for you.
How successful is Clomid?
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, up to 45 percent of women receiving Clomid will become pregnant after six cycles.