Many couples believe falling pregnant and having a baby is quite simple.
But around 1 in 8 couples in the US experience difficulty conceiving and need help, either from natural methods or from medications.
Infertility can be a distressing experience and you might end up needing specialist care to achieve the pregnancy you dream of.
Clomid is one of the medications your doctor may recommend.
Read on to find out more about why your doctor might suggest you use this fertility drug, and learn more about Clomid side effects and success rates.
What exactly does Clomid do?
Clomid is the brand name of clomiphene citrate, a commonly used fertility drug used to treat female fertility problems.
The medication works by blocking estrogen production or lowering your estrogen levels. This causes your pituitary gland to increase the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
FSH prepares the eggs in your ovaries for release, and LH triggers the release of one or more mature eggs from your ovaries.
Clomid may be used in these situations:
- If you have ovulation problems or don’t experience regular ovulation (due to polycystic ovary syndrome, for example)
- If you have only one fallopian tube
- If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian failure
- If your menstrual cycles are irregular and you don’t typically have one cycle per month
- To stop hormones like estrogen from interacting with the pituitary gland
Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health specialist, Dr. Andrew Orr, says:
“Clomid is indicated for the treatment of ovulatory failure in carefully selected infertile women … women on Clomid should always have a pelvic ultrasound prior to each course and after each course, due to risk of ovarian cyst growth”.
How successful is Clomid first time?
Research shows Clomid stimulates ovulation in around 70% of users and the success rates of pregnancy over several cycles are around 30%.
A review published in Human Reproduction looked at several studies on Clomid and concluded:
- 73% ovulated on Clomid
- 36% achieved pregnancy
- 29% gave birth.
It’s thought up to 20% of pregnancies conceived with the help of Clomid end in miscarriage. A similar rate, however, is reported among those who conceived with no help.
Clomid’s success is dependent on the reason you can’t get pregnant. If you have problems related to ovulation, then it’s more likely to be successful.
When should Clomid be taken?
Typically your doctor will tell you to start taking Clomid on the second day after you start your menstrual cycle. The tablet is taken each day for 5 days consecutively.
Most women start by taking a low dose of 50 mg.
If 50 mg isn’t enough, your doctor may increase the dosage by 50 mg. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as research shows:
- 46% of women ovulate at 50 mg
- 21% will ovulate at 100 mg
- 8% ovulate with 150 mg
You can take Clomid for up to six cycles in a row, to induce ovulation.
How long does it usually take to get pregnant on Clomid?
Ovulation usually occurs between five and ten days after you finish your course of Clomid.
Some women will ovulate and fall pregnant during the first month of treatment; for others, it might take longer for ovulation to resume.
Your healthcare provider will monitor you during treatments to assess how your ovaries are responding to the drug.
During treatment, some women release a number of mature eggs at once, which can increase the risk of multiple pregnancies.
In pregnancies conceived with the help of Clomid, between 5% and 12% are twins.
Clomid side effects
One of the more common Clomid side effects is an increase in thick cervical mucus. This is quite important, as cervical mucus helps sperm to survive in the vagina and get to the egg in order to fertilize it.
Other possible side effects caused by taking Clomid include:
- Hot flashes. Around 10% of women will experience hot flashes during a treatment cycle.
- Bloating and abdominal discomfort. These affect around 5% of those taking Clomid.
- Nausea and dizziness. 2% of women experienced nausea and vomiting while on this medication.
- Breast tenderness. 2% of women experienced breast tenderness during a treatment cycle.
- Blurred vision or vision problems. 1.5% experienced blurred vision, spots or flashes, as a temporary side effect. These generally go away when treatment cycles end but have sometimes been permanent.
- Headaches. A little over 1% experienced this side effect.
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding. More than 1% of women experienced vaginal bleeding, or a change in their menstrual bleed.
- Weight gain or changes in body weight. 1% of women experienced weight change during treatment.
- Mood changes. These affect less than 1%.
- Ovarian cysts. A small number of women developed benign ovarian cysts while taking clomifene citrate; these usually disappeared once the course of medication was finished.
- Vaginal dryness. A small number of women experienced vaginal dryness when taking the medication.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This is a very rare but potentially dangerous side effect; symptoms include stomach swelling and bloating.
These side effects won’t affect every woman who tries to get pregnant by taking Clomid.
If you take any fertility drugs, including Clomid, and experience side effects, speak with your doctor.
Your doctor might decide fertility drugs aren’t right for you and suggest other fertility treatments.
What if Clomid doesn’t work?
Clomid isn’t a magical fertility drug. Although it works well in the right situations, it’s unlikely to succeed for all women with fertility concerns.
For example, if your partner has low sperm count or motility, this will definitely affect the success of Clomid.
After six months, if you haven’t ovulated, it could be determined that you are not responding to Clomid.
At this point, your healthcare provider may recommend an increase in the dosage.
If you still do not respond at 100mg and 150mg a day you might be resistant to clomifene.
You are more likely to be clomifene resistant if you have:
- A BMI of over 25
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
If you are clomifene resistant, your doctor will be able to tell you more about the other options available to you.
Will Clomid give me twins?
Clomid often increases egg production, which means more mature eggs are released at the same time.
An increase in egg production can mean an increase in your chances of conceiving twins.
It’s important not to take Clomid just to try for twins, as twins increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth.
Only take Clomid if your doctor recommends it and if fertility medications are assessed to be right for you and your fertility situation.
Where can I buy Clomid?
Clomid is available on prescription only, and can be purchased through your pharmacy.
Never take Clomid without your doctor’s supervision. The medication isn’t recommended for women with liver problems, ovarian cysts, or fertility problems unconnected with ovulation.
If you buy medication online, you risk being sold something ineffective or even an entirely different drug, which could be dangerous.
You should also be monitored while taking Clomid, to ensure you’re getting the correct dose.
Tips for getting pregnant on Clomid
Take Clomid exactly as advised by your doctor each day for 5 days. This fertility drug will induce ovulation so it’s important to time when to have sex to maximize your chance of conceiving.
Your most fertile window will be a few days before ovulation. You’re most likely to ovulate 7-10 days after the last pill was taken.
The most fertile time in your cycle will be the 2 days leading up to ovulation. So you might want to consider having sex every other day starting on day 11 and ending on day 21. This should increase the chance sperm is already waiting for an egg to be released.
If counting days or keeping track of when to have sex is trickier than you hoped, try using an ovulation prediction kit to pinpoint ovulation.
You can have sex on the day the test indicates you’re fertile and for the next few days.
You might also want to read more about ovulation symptoms.