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Things That Affect Fertility
Fertility is a somewhat interesting aspect of pregnancy. For some couples who are trying to have children, getting pregnant is easy. They have no problem whatsoever, and can get pregnant really easy. For others, however, they continue to attempt to get pregnant, but fail to see results. They may go...

Using rFSH and FSH Fertility Treatments

rFSH and FSH Fertility DrugsInfertility is a complicated issue, one that has many causes. Each woman who experiences fertility problems needs to be treated individually—what works for one woman may not work for another because each woman’s body chemistry is completely different.

When treating infertility in some women, many doctors choose to try recombinant human follicle-stimulating hormone (rFSH) drugs. Common brand names for these fertility drugs are Follistim and Gonal-F. When prescribing one of these medications, doctors also prescribe a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) because these drugs are generally used together. Name brands for hCG drugs include Pregnyl and Profasi.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is necessary in stimulating egg production and ovulation. Some women do not have adequate levels of FSH; this may be what is causing their infertility. So, the doctor decides to prescribe rFSH, which is a formulation of FSH that is genetically synthesized in a laboratory.

These types of fertility drugs are not taken orally; they are injectables. In most cases, a woman is instructed to have injections of rFSH daily for 12 days. Then, after the last one, she is given an injection of hCG.

The purpose of these drugs is quite specific. The injections of the rFSH are intended to help the egg follicles become mature. Studies have shown that most women benefit from a 12-day succession of injections.

Throughout this series of injections, the woman must come in to her doctor’s office or fertility clinic for ultrasounds or blood tests to monitor how well the rFSH is working. It is especially important for her to have a test done after the twelfth day so that it can be seen if she is ready for the hCG injection.

The purpose of the hCG injection is to stimulate ovulation. So, if the woman’s body is not ready for ovulation, she should not get the hCG shot. If, for example, the 12-day series of rFSH injections has not sufficiently matured her egg follicles—well, it wouldn’t make sense for her to have ovulation stimulated because the result would clearly not be successful.

Although the rFSH fertility drugs are injectables, it is not necessary for a woman to have these injections given at the doctor’s office or fertility clinic. Just as diabetics are taught to give themselves shots of insulin should they require them, women can be taught to give themselves injections of rFSH. Of course, it isn’t easy for some women to do, and it does take practice—but, it can be done.

Gonal-F, for instance, is available in a preloaded pen. This can make giving injections quite a bit simpler because there is no need for measuring the dosage—and because there are no syringes involved. Another option for some women would be to have their partner give them their daily injections.

These fertility drugs can work quite well for many women. For women who have failed to ovulate before, these drugs have been able to help as many as 60% of them to become pregnant.

But, like any fertility drugs, rFSH and hCG do carry some risks. For one, the risk of miscarriage is definitely very high. Of the 60% of women who do get pregnant using these medications, as many as 35% miscarry. That is a higher percentage than that of the general public. So, women must be prepared for this potential heartbreak if they get pregnant.

Ovarian enlargement and tenderness is also possible when taking these drugs. But, that is a common side effect of many fertility drugs. Pelvic or abdominal pain happens in some women, and some complain of headaches. And, as with any injectable, there may be mild pain, redness, or swelling at the injection sites.

Taking rFSH and hCG also puts women at risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This condition is not unique to these particular fertility drugs, though. It can occur after any a woman undergoes any repetitive treatments or takes any medications that stimulate the ovaries. But, it is quite rare, so it will not be an issue for most women—it is just a piece of information about which women should be aware.

Just like any other fertility drugs, rFSH and hCG can also increase a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant with multiples. Being pregnant with twins, triplets, or greater multiples is risky for both the mother and her fetuses; this is a fact women need to remember and understand.

There is no single fertility drug that will work for every woman who experiences infertility. Doctors have to evaluate each woman individually and determine what is causing her fertility problems. Then, they can try to choose the right fertility drug or drug combination that can help. Luckily, there are several different medications available—including rFSH and hCG—to try to help women realize their dreams of having children of their own.

 
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