The Ins and Outs of Some of the Most Potent Fertility Drugs
Maybe you’ve heard of gonadotropins from friends who have had IUI or IVF treatments. Or maybe you’re looking into fertility treatment on your own, and have tripped across references to these drugs. What are they? Why are they used? What are the costs? Are there risks to using them? Let’s check it out.
Hormones for Fertility
Gonadotropins are hormones which stimulate the gonads, which are the ovaries or testes. Yes, gonadotropins work on men, as well! Gonadotropins are injectable fertility drugs which contain follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH, luteinizing hormone, or LH, or both. They are given to women to help your body make the hormones needed for egg production. They may also be used for men with low testosterone and FSH to promote sperm formation.
These drugs are commonly used when a woman is not ovulating, has low hormone levels, or as part of an IVF cycle, in order to stimulate your body to produce multiple eggs so more than one can be extracted and fertilized in the lab. Sometimes gonadotropins are used in IUI if a woman has not responded to treatment with clomiphene.
When a woman is prescribed gonadotropins, usually she has to give herself injections of the drugs daily for an average of 12 days. She is closely monitored while using human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) or recombinant human FSH (rFSH.) Once testing shows her eggs are mature, she will have an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to stimulate ovulation.
Common brand names for these fertility drugs are Follistim, Gonal-F and Bravelle (rFSH.) The combination medications (hMG) are known as Repronex and Menopur. Human chorionic gonadotropins (hCG) are branded Ovidrel or Pregnyl.
Cost of Injectable Fertility Drugs
A cycle of gonadotropins costs from $1500 to $6000, depending on what medications are prescribed and how much you need. Women who are older than 35 often need more medication to spur ovulation, which makes their cost of treatment higher.
You may get pregnant with your first IVF cycle, or you may need more than one, so the cost of injectable fertility drugs may or may not be a one-time expense. In the U.S., the live birth rate for any IVF cycle started is:
• 41-43% for women under age 35
• 33-36% for women ages 35 to 37
• 23-27% for women ages 38 to 40
• 13-18% for women over 40
Risks of Treatment
Most women will experience only minor discomfort from using gonadotropins. It’s kind of like a slightly exaggerated version of your normal menstrual cycle, with bloating, breast tenderness, cramping, fatigue, slight pelvic pain or twinges, and headaches.
In rare cases ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) may occur. The ovaries become extremely enlarged and fluid accumulates in the abdomen. This is a serious complication and requires immediate treatment. If you are using injectable fertility drugs and begin to gain weight rapidly, have severe abdominal pain, bloating or nausea, or feel dizzy or short of breath, call your doctor immediately.
Fertility Drug Costs and IVF Financing
When you explore paying for IVF treatment, make sure any cost estimates you get include the injectable fertility drugs. Many financing plans do not cover drug costs, which are a major part of the cost of an IVF cycle.
WINFertilityRx provides lower than market-rate Medication Bundles, medications at a reduced “pay-as-you-go” price. The bundle is tailored for your specific treatment plan. Call 855-678-3255 to talk to one of our Nurse Care Managers or professionally-trained Patient Specialists.