What are Clomid and Letrozole?

Clomid and Letrozole

Clomid and Letrozole for Fertility

If you are trying to get pregnant, you have probably heard about people using Clomid (Clomiphene) or Letrozole (Femera) for fertility. Here’s what these medications are and how they help.

Both medications help the ovaries produce high-quality eggs and then help them release those eggs during ovulation. Since ovulation disorders are one of the main reasons people don’t get pregnant easily, these are common medications in the fertility world. 

Clomid blocks estrogen receptors in the brain, which tricks it into thinking estrogen levels are low. This, ultimately (skipping some of the technical steps here), will make the body produce more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The end result is more, bigger, healthier eggs that will (fingers crossed) be released that month, and one will turn into a baby.

Letrozole prevents the conversion of precursor hormones into estrogen, making the estrogen levels lower in the body. Low estrogen means higher FSH and LH, and, ultimately, more and better quality eggs.

You may have noticed that both medications induce the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Usually, multiple follicles are produced every month, but one grows more than the others (becomes “dominant”) and becomes the mature egg that is released at ovulation. With either of these medications, there is a somewhat higher chance of more than one egg releasing from the ovary, which means a slightly higher chance of multiple pregnancies. 

You should check with your doctor about your specific situation, but in general, you might benefit from trying Clomid and Letrozole if you:

  • Have irregular periods
  • Have been trying to get pregnant for several months without success
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Aren’t getting positive ovulation prediction kits each month, or can’t tell when you’re ovulating
  • Make sperm, but have low testosterone or low sperm count

Clomid has been used for more than 50 years for fertility. Letrozole is a more recent addition and is used off-label for fertility. They have about equal success with inducing ovulation. Some people are ‘Clomid-resistant’ and don’t respond well to Clomid. Letrozole is thought to have fewer side effects than Clomid, and, is also often best for PCOS patients.

Both are affordable and are likely to be covered by health insurance and are much less invasive than other assisted reproductive processes like IUIs or IVF. Some of the side effects you might notice are; hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, bloating, nausea, and other PMS-like symptoms.

Which one should you take? That is between you and your doctor, who will likely run some labs before prescribing anything. What we can say is that they are usually taken orally for 5 days starting early in your menstrual cycle. Clomid and Letrozole come in various dosages and your doctor will likely start with a lower dose and increase if needed. Both medications can be combined with timed intercourse, ICI, IUI, or IVF. 

Acupuncture is a wonderful adjunct therapy while you’re taking fertility medications. It can help reduce some of the side effects we talked about above – which, for some people, can be significant. Acupuncture can also help your body produce the highest quality eggs (or sperm), and can also help reduce the stress many people feel about having trouble getting pregnant.

Curious about how acupuncture can help while you’re taking Clomid or Letrozole to help your fertility? Contact us to learn more or schedule an appointment. 

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.

About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.