If you have been suffering from a lack of ovulation (anovulation) or a condition which stifles ovulation such as PCOS, your doctors have likely talked to you about the use of Clomifene (-phene) more commonly known as Clomid.
Clomid is a synthetic prescription drug labeled a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). It binds to estrogen receptors in the body, blocking some estrogen reactions while permitting others, hence the term “selective”. It increases the level of gonadotropins (secreted by the anterior pituitary gland) and is used for ovarian hyperstimulation. It is commonly use with IVF Procedures and to stimulate ovulation in women who have anovulatory cycles (ie. women with low BMI or Anorexia, PCOS). It is a very powerful drug which can actually force your body to ovulate. This all sounds very promising, but with every medication we have to think about the downfalls.
Side effects associated with taking Clomid
- enlarged ovaries
- multiple births
- pelvic pain and bloating
- mood changes and hotflashes
- heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- decreased fertile cervical mucous, thereby decreasing the chances of a possible conception
- rarely, some women see ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and ovarian rupture (this risk increases with every subsequent use). Usually it is recommend to not use Clomid for more than 6 consecutive cycles.
Masks the true problem
As with any medication, it is only masking the symptoms and leaving the underlying problem unaddressed. This means, that if you get pregnant this time while using Clomid, you will likely need Clomid to get pregnant next time because let’s face it, this medication has ZERO affect on the underlying cause of your anovulation (e.g. PCOS, low BMI, etc). You need to ask yourself, “Why am I not ovulating?”. A Naturopathic Doctor and Fertility Specialist can help you discover this cause, and herbal remedies can really help with longterm changes in your reproductive health and fertility.
So what can you do alternatively or in conjunction with Clomid?
If you are reading this article, you are already considering the use of Clomid or are thinking about IVF. But subconsciously you actually want to know if there are any natural alternatives.
- The thickened cervical mucous that Clomid creates (which is usually thick, sticky and creamy and too acidic for sperm to penetrate making it “hostile”) can be shifted using natural remedies such as Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) and PreSeed Natural Lubricant (this is a fertility-friendly vaginal lubricant that stimulates the production of a more hydrated egg white cervical mucous and helps the swimmers make the trip!).
- Gain an optimal weight and obtain a BMI that is essential for conception. You need fat/cholesterol to make hormones and ovulate!
- Consider fertility herbs such as Tribulus terrestris. This is an herb that has been shown to normalize ovulation when taken from Day 5-14 of your cycle (or Day 5 up to the point of ovulation). In one study, 67% of the women using Tribulus ovulated after using the herb for 2-3 months. Vitex is another herb that is fantastic for supporting ovulation by regulating the menstrual cycle. This is an herb I use consistently in women with PCOS.
- Eat a nourishing fertility diet rich in organic whole foods, fruits and vegetables, high quality vegetable proteins and healthy fats.
- Implement a Stress reduction protocol. This can be as simple as meditating for 10 minutes a day, deep breathing or adopting a yoga routine.
Should you combine herbs with the use of Clomid?
The short answer of this is no. We do not recommend disrupting the effects of Clomid with herbs while cycle monitoring and preparing for IVF. We highly recommend seeing a reproductive specialist or Naturopathic Doctor specializing in fertility before using any herbs or supplements.