How Does Clomid Work?

By Nicole Galan, RN

What is Clomid?

Clomiphene citrate (clomid) is an anti-estrogenic compound, most commonly prescribed to treat female infertility. It competes with estrogen for specialized receptor sites in the endometrium, vagina, and the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Clomid causes an increased production of gonadotropins, hormones like follicle stimulating hormone and lutenizing hormone, which initiate the growth of one or more eggs in the ovary. Ovulation, or release of the mature egg, can occur on its own or with the addition of another medication to stimulate it. The empty egg follicle produces progesterone, the major hormone of pregnancy, as it does when a woman is not taking clomid.

Using Clomid for Female Infertility

Clomid is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for female factor infertility. This drug is usually one of the first medications given during the process of treating infertility due to its ease of use. Women who do not ovulate on their own, or irregularly like those with polycystic ovary syndrome or hypothalamic amenorrhea, benefit most from taking clomid.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that is characterized by the presence of multiple small cysts on the ovaries, high levels of androgens (male hormones which contribute to symptoms like abnormal hair growth, acne and even hair loss) and irregular periods.

Women with hypothalamic amenorrhea have irregularities in their hypothalamus and pituitary glands which prevent ovulation, and thus a menstrual cycle, from happening each month. As with polycystic ovary syndrome, women who have irregular or absent periods are most likely not ovulating, a key step in getting pregnant.

You may need to take other hormones, like estrogen or progesterone supplements, while taking clomid. While each physician has his or her own preference, usually only a few cycles of clomid will be tried before moving on to a different medication.

How to Take Clomid

Make sure to take Clomid exactly as your doctor prescribes it. It is available in 50mg tablets; dosages of 50mg, 100mg, 150mg or 200mg as a daily single dose are common. Clomid is usually taken in the beginning of the menstrual cycle for five days, usually starting on day three or day five. Your doctor may want to monitor your response through blood testing and ultrasound. You will receive instructions from your doctor on when to have intercourse, though using an ovulation predictor kit is common. Make sure to report any side effects promptly to your doctor.

References

About the Author

Nicole received two Bachelor's degrees, one in biology from Philadelphia University, and one in nursing from Pace University. She currently works as an RN in private practice as an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) Coordinator. She routinely counsels and educates patients about various infertility and health issues. Nicole writes for the New York Times company, About.com as their PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) expert guide.