Femara for Infertility

by on June 17, 2012

Femara (letrozole) is sometimes used to help women with difficulty getting pregnant to conceive. However, this use is off-label as this medication is designed to treat hormone-dependant breast cancer in post-menopausal women, and is not licenced by the FDA to treat reduced fertility. If you take Femara for infertility, it should only be prescribed by a specialist physician.

How does Femara Affect Female Fertility?

Femara works as a fertility aid in a similar way to a drug called clomiphene (Clomid), which is one of the major medications used to treat reduced fertility in women. Clomid acts as a blocker to estrogen receptors, interrupting estrogen’s actions on the body. Femara works by inhibiting the production of estrogen by binding to the aromatase enzyme, which is involved in estrogen production. This results in reduced estrogen levels in the body. The body reacts to this by making the anterior pituitary gland produce an excess of hormones which stimulate egg production. This is because estrogen controls the production of these other hormones, and a reduction in the estrogen levels allow more of these hormones to be made.

Increasing the hormones that cause egg production allows Femara to increase fertility. This is because it stimulates the production of eggs from the ovaries, which are needed to combine with sperm to produce a fetus. Having an increased production of eggs increases the likelihood that women taking the medication will become pregnant.

For the past ten years, some fertility doctors have been using Femara as an alternative to Clomid because they believe that this medication has a better side-effect profile. For example, women are less likely to experience vaginal dryness, miscarriages and thinning of the cervical muscosa when taking Femara compared to Clomid. Another problem with Clomid therapy is that it can produce multiple pregnancies, which can be difficult for families to deal with. Fertility doctors prescribing Femara believe that this medication is less likely to result in multiple pregnancies.

Side Effects of Taking Femara for Infertility

Femara may be effective at increasing fertility in women, but its use does have some downsides. It has been demonstrated to have harmful effects on a fetus during pregnancy, so you should not use Femara if pregnant, and should stop if you become pregnant. If you have taken Femara as a fertility aid for the advised five day cycle and stopped taking it when you discover yourself to be pregnant, there should be no harm to your fetus. This is because the drug is rapidly removed from the body and should all be excreted by the time the egg is fertilised.

Because Clomid is licenced for use in female fertility treatments, we know a lot about its side effects. However, because Femara is used off-label for fertility treatments, fewer studies have been done into the effects and side-effects that young women will experience when taking this drug.

Femara is also more expensive than Clomid, so this may deter physicians from using this as a first-line medication for infertility.