Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Clomid: A Brief Overview

Clomid is one of the most common medications prescribed to women who are dealing with infertility. You may have taken it, you may have heard of a friend who is taking it, or you may be wondering if you will be prescribed it in the future. So here is a quick overview of what Clomid is and what it does.

Clomid is a drug that is used to help women who are dealing with infertility. It causes the pituitary gland to release hormones needed to stimulate ovulation. It is most commonly given to women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), but it is also prescribed to women who have anovulation, a shorter luteal phase, and many other situations where a woman’s doctor may see it necessary.

It is important while taking Clomid that you follow all directions of your doctor. Clomid is typically taken for 5 days straight, most commonly starting on the 5th day of your menstrual cycle. However, some doctors have found more success if you take it starting on the 3rd day of your menstrual cycle. This is a decision that will be made based on each individuals circumstances, however if you aren’t seeing success when taking it on day 5 it may not hurt to ask to switch it up. It’s always important to advocate for yourself! If the Clomid is successful ovulation should occur within 5-10 days after the cycle of Clomid is completed.

Like all medications Clomid does have side effects. Although they are different for every woman, some of the most common ones are:
  • Flushing: warmth, redness or a tingly feeling
  • Breast Pain
  • Headaches
  • Hot Flashes
  • Night Sweats
**Hot Flashes and Night Sweats were the worst side effects I experienced while on Clomid. There were many nights were I would wake up drenched in sweat and the only remedy was to go outside and stand in the cool wind. Brace yourself for this, it is no joke.

Side Effects that aren’t common and should be immediately reported to your doctor are:
  • Stomach pain or bloating
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Little or no urinating
  • Pain when you breathe, rapid heart rate or feeling short of breathe
** These symptoms can all be related to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) which can be life threatening!

Some of my personal thoughts and tips concerning Clomid are these:

  • Be aware that most doctors start you out on a dose of 50mg of Clomid. You may not experience any side effects on this dosage. However, each month Clomid doesn’t work your doctor may up your dosage going from 50mg to 100mg to 150mg.  As your dosage increases so do the severity of the side effects. Prepare yourself for this.
  • If you are going to take Clomid, and deal with the unpleasant side effects, request from your doctor to be monitored. Being monitored means they are doing a base line ultrasound to look at your follicles, and then another ultrasound around day 12 of your cycle, to see how the Clomid has progressed those follicles. In my personal opinion… it is a waste to use Clomid if you aren’t being monitored because you could be taking a drug, experiencing nasty side effects, and ultimately using a whole cycle and the drug may not even be working and you wouldn’t even know it because you aren’t being monitored. ASK TO BE MONITORED. Advocate for yourself. It will be well worth it.
  • If after several months Clomid isn’t working for you…Ask to use Femara. It is another drug that works well for women yet has less side effects. We will be doing a post soon about Femara and will link it soon!

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Common Treatments for PCOS

There are so many things to try in order to aid in increasing your chances of conceiving when diagnosed with PCOS, and it can often seem very overwhelming.  I wish I could say there was a one size fits all miracle drug or solution to becoming pregnant, but everyone is SO different and needs to find what seems to work for them.  Here are just a few of the things I tried that are very commonly recommended to women with PCOS trying to boost their fertility:

  1. Living a healthy lifestyle.  Although this is important for anyone, whether trying to conceive or not, women who have PCOS, especially those who are obese, are highly encouraged to first take a look at their diet and exercise. Creating good habits can help to maintain a normal weight and help with some of the PCOS symptoms including regulating your cycle. 1   I’ve always been at a healthy weight, tried to make healthy choices, and live an active lifestyle, so this was something I struggled with. It was hard for me to know what extreme to take it to.  Dieticians and health professionals have published a lot of useful information on what commonly works the best for those with PCOS, but again, it is all so dependent on the individual. Therefore, it’s important for you to get to know your own body and find what works.  

  1. Taking Clomiphene (also commonly known as clomid).  This is the most commonly used medication to help with infertility for women with PCOS and irregular cycles.  Women who conceive with clomid are also more likely to give birth to multiples than those who conceive without it.  It works by indirectly helping the eggs to mature and then release for ovulation. 2  When I was on clomid, I consistently ovulated on day 14 and had perfect 28 day cycles.   Clomid was one of the medications I used during one of my IUI treatments and I produced three good sized follicles!  I LOVED being able to have perfect cycles- It made timing everything so much easier and saved me from using a box of ovulation sticks a month (ovulation kits are not cheap!). Clomid did give me really bad breakouts around ovulation and when my period was supposed to start, along with extreme fatigue and a little bit of craziness.  With some of these symptoms, I felt like I was either pregnant or on birth control all over again!
  1. Metformin.  Metformin is typically used for diabetes, but as an insulin-sensitizing drug, it has also been known to help women with PCOS who struggle with insulin levels, thereby helping them ovulate. 3 I had heard quite a few success stories with metformin from people I know who had taken it for no more than 3 months and had gotten pregnant, so you could say I was excited to try it!  I took the extended-release version, which is supposed to help with side affects, but it literally made everything taste gross to me! I was on a pretty strict diet while I was taking metformin, and all of it together was pretty miserable.  Taking metformin along with the strict diet I was on was the longest I have ever gone without having a period (about three months compared to the 32-35 day cycles I typically experienced).  I was under a lot of stress during this time and I’m curious if under different circumstances, it would have created different results.   

Again, these were just a FEW of the things that I tried, most of which we tried before realizing that male infertility was also a factor for us that we hadn’t looked at resolving.  

1 Makarov, Jennifer.  Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Causes, Diagnoses, and Treatment.  

2Treatments for Infertility Resulting from PCOS.  (July 14, 2015).  Retrieved from

3 Treatments for Infertility Resulting from PCOS.  

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How To Boost Your Egg Quality In 90 Days

With PCOS, the day you ovulate isn’t always very predictable and longer cycles make the whole waiting game just that much longer! So, it only makes sense that one of the first things we often focus on is getting our cycles regular, either naturally or by taking medications such as clomid, letrozole, and femara.  Although these medications can help the follicles to grow and mature by increasing FSH levels, I also wanted to do everything I could during fertility treatments to make sure that my eggs were as healthy as possible!   

Why is egg health so crucial to fertility?

How healthy your eggs are can influence whether or not fertilization takes place, whether or not implantation happens, and how viable the pregnancy is.1 Simple answer, it is very important.  

So what factors even determine egg quality?

It used to believe that the only factor that influences egg quality was a woman’s age. Although a female’s age is important to consider2, there are other factors to look at as well.  These things include, but aren’t limited to, environmental factors, hormones in the food we eat, and stress.3   

Preparing for Ovulation (3 months in advance):

An egg goes through a 90-day cycle to prepare for ovulation4- something I didn’t know at the beginning of my infertility journey and something I wish I had known sooner!  Everything we do during this time, everything you’re doing right now whether healthy or unhealthy, is influencing the maturation process of an egg and ovulation that takes place three months from now.  Kind of crazy to think about, especially when we’re so used to looking at trying to conceive as a month-to-month thing!
So, here are a few things we can do about it:

  1. Ensure Blood Flow and Proper Oxygenation

We want to make sure that our bodies are able to have proper oxygen and rich blood flow to the ovaries to help with egg quality.  In order to do this, make sure you are:
  • Drinking at least 64 oz. of pure water each day.  Dehydration causes thick blood, and decreases circulation in your body among other problems.  
  • Be active! Find something you enjoy doing so you’re more likely to do it.  Exercise is a great way to increase blood flow and help bring oxygen to the blood.

  1. Hormonal Balance
Balancing hormones is SO important for egg quality, and many of us with PCOS have a really hard time with this! To help we can:
  • Decrease the stress in our lives
  • Follow a fertility diet  (Jill Blakeway provides a lot of useful information on lifestyle changes and eating for fertility in her book Making Babies).  

  1. Nutrition
Everything we eat impacts egg quality either positively or negatively.  So make healthy choices.  Here are some things that are recommended as “top foods for egg health”:
  • Royal Jelly
  • Maca
  • FertiliGreens
  • Broccoli
  • Berries
  • Dark leafy vegetables
  • Halibut
  • Salmon
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger

    Stay away from:
  • Cigarettes
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Non-organic meats and dairy
  • Soda
  • Low fat diet
  • Processed foods
  • Trans Fats
  • GMO foods

  1. Take a multivitamin/ your prenatal vitamin! 4
Provide your body with the proper nutrients it needs.

These are just a few of the things I found helpful. For me, I found that moderation was KEY.  

1 Rodriguez, Hethir.  (Accessed November 4, 2015).  How to Increase Your Egg Health in 90 Days.  Retrieved from

2 Sherbahn, Richard. (Accessed November 4, 2015).  Egg quality & quanitity & the relationship to fertility, infertility and IVF success.  Retrieved from

3 Rodriguez, Hethir.  

4 Rodriguez, Hethir.  

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