by Fred Licciardi, M.D.
Thanks for reading yesterday's post. Here is a little more about Clomid. Clomid, also known as Serophene, is a very valuable medication, but it can be associated with some nasty side effects.
Believe it or not, Clomid was originally devised to be used as a birth control pill. You see, it’s an anti estrogen, meaning it blocks estrogen in your body. People thought that if estrogen was blocked, pregnancy could not occur. However, the body fights back. So when you take it, it goes to your brain and your brain says “Wow, there’s no estrogen, we need to make some.” So the upper brain sends strong signals to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which in turn sends signals to the pituitary gland, and a larger than normal amount of FSH is produced. The FSH travels to the ovaries, and ovulation occurs.
In women who don’t ovulate frequently, this is a miracle drug. About 80% will ovulate and about 80% of those get pregnant easily.
We also use Clomid in women who ovulate like clockwork. Why? Because it does help a little. We don’t know if it helps because it creates a better ovulation, or it’s because more eggs are released. With Clomid, 50% of the time 1 egg is released, but in the other half, 2, or less frequently 3 or more, are released.
So what about those side effects? Some are physical and some are mental. Because Clomid is an anti-estrogen, it can disrupt some pretty important estrogen-dependent tissues. One tissue is the glands of the cervix that make the cervical mucus. Sometimes Clomid will thicken the mucus and this causes problems for swimming sperm. Another is the glands that line the inner uterus, the endometrium. If the lining is too thin (a subject for another day) pregnancy will not occur. An ultrasound can measure the lining, and if it looks too thin, we move away from Clomid and go to the next step.
The mental side effects include blurry vision, seeing small spots, moodiness, jitteriness and depression. Women with significant depression should not be placed on Clomid. This is a little known but important fact. An anyonomuos blogger reminded me that headaches are another side effect.
All this being said, Clomid is a drug that helps many women have babies. About 15% of women have side effects, most mild.