Letrozole for Fertility

Letrozole is an oral medication used as a fertility treatment. Also sold under the brand name Femara, it is a commonly used medication to treat breast cancer. The FDA has approved this drug for cancer treatment only, but it has been used off-label as an infertility treatment. There are different instances when your doctor prescribes letrozole for fertility. It may work in some cases and may not be that effective for some. You need to get complete information about its side effects as well before you start taking it.

How Does Letrozole Work for Fertility?

The drug works because it is an aromatase inhibitor; therefore, it stops the conversion of androgen to estrogen. It also plays a role in improving endometrial thickness and encouraging overall ovarian follicular development. It has been a popular treatment option for women who do not ovulate. While many infertility specialists still opt for Clomid, a large majority now relies on letrozole for women who do not respond well to Clomid or cannot tolerate it.

The good thing about letrozole is that your body clears it up quickly, allowing it work for a short span for which it is taken. It is less likely to affect cervical mucus and uterine lining in a negative way. This ensures that you do not have to deal with serious side effects. Your healthcare specialists may prescribe it for five days each cycle; you have to take it on day three and continue taking it through day seven.

When Will Letrozole Be Prescribed for Fertility?

Letrozole for fertility is recommended when you are more likely to get better results from letrozole than Clomid if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Similarly, your doctor prescribes letrozole if you show Clomid resistance – it means Clomid fails to stimulate ovulation in three treatment cycles.

What's more, you may benefit from letrozole when you have an estrogenic cancer, like breast cancer. You cannot use many other drugs that stimulate ovulation when you have cancer. It is so because most drugs improve estrogen levels, but doing this will lead to faster tumor growth. Letrozole is an effective choice because it stimulates ovulation but does not increase estrogen.

How to Take Letrozole for Fertility

You will start taking it when you get your next period. Your healthcare provider will first order a pregnancy test to ensure you are not pregnant already.

If you are not pregnant, your doctor will give you letrozole that comes in 2.5mg tablets. You have to take these tablets once a day for 5 consecutive days. You will take your first dose on day three of your cycle. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to take 1-3 pills per day. While giving you letrozole, your healthcare provider will also order blood tests to confirm if you are approaching ovulation. It is not uncommon for doctors to combine letrozole for fertility with IUI treatment for better results.

Is It Effective?

Research shows that women with PCOS take letrozole and increase their live birth rate to 27.5%, whereas the birth rate is 19.1% for women who take Clomid. How effective letrozole is in your case depends on your age as well as a number of other fertility factors.

It is important to understand that live birth rates are different from the pregnancy rates. However, research shows that ovulation rates for Clomid and letrozole are about the same with Clomid having ovulation rates of 70.9% and letrozole having it around 67.5%.

Will There Be Any Side Effects?

It is natural to ask if there are any side effects when taking letrozole for fertility. As mentioned already, letrozole works by reducing your estrogen levels and this may cause certain symptoms. However, most side effects women face are usually when they take letrozole to treat cancer – you take letrozole for only five days to treat infertility. Still, it is possible to experience some side effects such as dizziness, fatigue, bloating, headache, hot flashes, breast pain, difficult sleeping, and blurred vision.

Fatigue and dizziness are usually the most common symptoms. If you experience more and find your symptoms quite uncomfortable, talk to your doctor immediately. You should also contact your doctor if you experience severe headache, blurred vision, or other unusual symptoms.

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