Fertility Drug Complications

by Anai Rhoads

This page discusses in detail all of the potential problems fertility drugs may cause.

Induced Cycle Monitoring

You must be monitored on a daily basis for hMG. It requires taking blood samples to monitor your serum hormone levels; performing transvaginal ultrasounds to monitor the growth, quantity and quality of the follicles, checking the size of your ovaries; taking vaginal smears to detect the quality of cervical mucus, also using a marker for hormone levels.

The purpose of all this monitoring is to make sure that:

  • Chance is minimized for either or both ovaries to swell and/or form cysts.
  • Since using clomiphene may alter your cervical mucous, the mucous will be checked for the right consistency.
  • That intercourse is timed to coincide with ovulation.

In addition, you should also be tracking your basal body temperature and the changes in your cervical mucous at home with a BBT chart, ovulation monitor or ovulation kit. (Note: You should not be on either clomiphene or hMG unless you're being monitored).

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

This is a condition that develops when the ovaries are overstimulated by either clomiphene or hMG, and suddenly double in size and overproduce follicles. The condition is more common with hMG.

What are the symptoms of OHSS?
The symptoms of OHSS are abdominal bloating, discomfort, nausea (which is often mistaken for morning sickness), and difficulty breathing.

How common is OHSS?
This condition is quite rare when the dose is low and the drug is used correctly, but the higher the dose and the longer you are on the drug, the higher the risk of OHSS.

Multiple Pregnancies

Decade Natural Twins
1960's 1 in every 75 pregnancies
1970's 1 in every 95 pregnancies
1980's 1 in every 104 pregnancies

Multiple Births With Fertility Drugs

Twins 8 out of every 100 pregnancies
Triplets 6 out of every 1,000 pregnancies
Quadruplets 4 out of every 1,000 pregnancies
Quintuplets 1 of every 1,000 pregnancies

Gestation period

Singleton 40 weeks
Twins 37 weeks
Triplets 35 weeks

The more fetuses you are carrying, the shorter the gestation period. While gestation is shorter, the chance of premature labor is higher.

If you have an existing condition that puts you in the high risk category, the condition can be compounded by multiple pregnancy.

Pregnancy loss also increases, and the risks of developing other pregnancy related problems such as toxemia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, protein in urine, and water retention.

Carrying more than one child also means there is a risk of low birth weight and umbilical cord problems. Some unique complications include "twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome" or TTTS. TTTS is a disease of the placenta that occurs when carrying completely normal, chromosomally intact identical twins (or more) who are sharing one placenta in either separate amniotic sacs or sometimes a shared amniotic sac. Blood passes unevenly between the shared placenta and the developing twins. (If you want learn more about more TTTS, please call The TTTS Foundation at 1-216-889-TTTS).

Anai Rhoads is a medical and political researcher/writer with a particular interest in the sanctions on Iraq and the wider effect of racism's influence in the Middle East. A vegan since 2000, she is a dedicated supporter of activities which promote animal and human rights. Originally from Greece, she now resides in Virginia, USA with her husband and their two dogs, Bijou and Eva.

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Copyright © Anai Rhoads. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC. .