Recently I discussed the common side effects of Clomid. Many of the readers requested a post about the side effects of the shots. Today, I discuss the most common side effects that you may experience when taking gonadotropins (such as Gonal-f® or Follistim®) for infertility.
During an IVF or IUI cycle, patients may be prescribed injectable medications such as follitropin alfa (Gonal-f®) or follitropin beta (Follistim®). Follitropin alpha and beta are human follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) preparations of recombinant DNA origin. Follitropin alpha and beta are indicated for the induction of ovulation and pregnancy in the oligo-anovulatory infertile patient in whom the cause of infertility is functional and not due to primary ovarian failure. Follitropin alpha and beta are also indicated for the development of multiple follicles in the ovulatory patient participating in an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) program.
The most common adverse reactions and their rates of occurrence are listed in the package inserts provided by the companies that make the follitropins (Serono for Gonal-f® and Merck for Follistim®).
According to the package insert for follitropin alpha, these are the 9 most common side effects experienced by patients who were undergoing ovulation induction:
Abdominal pain (12.0%)
Ovarian Hyperstimulation (7.2%)
Pharyngitis (sore throat) (7.2%)
Rhinitis (stuffy nose) (7.2%)
Breast pain (6.0%)
Vagnial hemorrhage (6.0%)
Injection site pain (4.0%)
According to the package insert for follitropin alpha, these are the 7 most common side effects experienced by patients who were undergoing assisted reproductive technologies:
Abdominal pain (23.2%)
Abdomen enlarged (13.9%)
Injection site bruising (9.7%)
Injection site pain (5.5%)
Ovarian Hyperstimulation (4.6%)
According to the package insert for follitropin beta, these are the 5 reported side effects experienced by patients who were undergoing ovulation induction:
Ovarian Hyperstimulation (7.6%)
Abdominal discomfort (2.9%)
Abdominal pain (2.9%)
Abdominal pain lower (2.9%)
Ovarian cyst (2.9%)
According to the package insert for follitropin beta, these are the 2 reported side effects experienced by patients who were undergoing assisted reproductive technologies:
Ovarian Hyperstimulation (5.2%)
Abdominal pain (2.2%)
When taking gonadotropins for the treatment of infertility, patients must also be aware of some rare but serious risks:
Ovarian Hyperstimulation syndrome
Pulmonary and vascular complications (such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and/or pulmonary embolism)
Torsion of the ovary
If you are taking gonadotropins for infertility and experience side effects, alert your doctor immediately.
For more information, please read the package insert that accompanies your prescription.
Source: Gonal-f® package insert by Serono and Follistim® package insert by Merck.
Dr. Lowell Ku, M.D. is an award winning and leading Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist at Dallas IVF, one the nation’s premiere infertility centers. Dr. Ku clarifies the many confusing terms used in the world of Infertility using straightforward explanations.