Taking Letrozole (brand name Femara) for Fertility

Doctor Writing RxIf you have been diagnosed with ovulation issues, you may be prescribed letrozole (brand name Femara) by your physician. You must be well-informed about how to take letrozole for the medication’s optimal performance. You want the medication to be as effective as possible.

Letrozole Advice Published in Romper

As a renowned and awarded compassionate doctor, Dr. Laurence Jacobs is frequently quoted in popular online publications – most recently in Romper.com. The Infertility Doctor has some helpful advice to keep in mind when you’re on this particular medication and trying to conceive.

First, here’s a little background info on letrozole and how it is most commonly given as a medication.

“Letrozole is used to adjust hormone levels in the body, which spurs the ovaries to produce an egg to be released during ovulation,” as Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron of Fertility Centers of Illinois tells Romper. Although this sounds like a typical fertility medication, letrozole has usually been prescribed with other conditions in mind. “For over a decade, letrozole has been used mainly to treat various types of breast cancer,” Dr. Laurence Jacobs, also of Fertility Centers of Illinois, says. From a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors, letrozole works by blocking estrogen throughout the body, including in the ovaries. In other words, this drug helps regulate ovulation, otherwise known as the time in your cycle when you can get pregnant. It's a pretty big deal.

Despite its original purpose, letrozole has shown a lot of promise as a fertility medication. “Both clomiphene citrate (Clomid) and letrozole (Femara) are oral medications used to treat infertile women who have ovulation problems," says Dr. Jacobs. This could include people with ovulation disorders, particularly polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which causes irregular periods and infrequent (or sometimes totally absent) ovulation. In these cases, letrozole may be an effective fertility treatment. “Taking letrozole can increase the chances of pregnancy by up to 10-15 percent per month in women less than age 35,” says Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron. “Studies have shown that letrozole is more effective than clomid in helping women ovulate.” For some people who are dealing with fertility issues, this drug is a pretty amazing choice.

For the most part, taking letrozole for fertility is simple enough. “Letrozole is taken in tablet form by mouth for five days in the early days of the reproductive cycle, commonly on days 3-7,” says Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron, stressing the importance of taking letrozole at the same time every day. “A cycle is measured from the first day a woman gets her period until the first day of her next period.” If your physician prescribes this drug specifically for fertility, then follow their instructions closely.

There are some potential side effects and general things to know before taking letrozole to help get pregnant, however. “Letrozole can cause fatigue and the chance of twins increases to 8 percent, up from 5 percent in the general population,” says Dr. Hirshfeld-Cytron. Discuss your potential for any additional side effects with your doctor.

In addition, some physicians simply prefer to prescribe a more common fertility medication such as clomid. “Many doctors are more comfortable using clomid since letrozole is not approved by the FDA as an infertility drug and its use in this fashion is still considered 'off label,'” says Dr. Jacobs. (Going "off-label" means taking an FDA-approved medication for some unapproved use, according to FDA.gov. It isn't necessarily bad, it just means that the drug hasn't been as thoroughly tested for that particular treatment.) If your doctor is leaning toward letrozole as a fertility treatment, then have a discussion about its safety and potential effectiveness in your case.

The Infertility Doctor

Dr. Laurence Jacobs has achieved over 38 years of pregnancy success by designing customized IVF protocols based on each patient’s medical needs.

Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs is the Senior Partner of Fertility Centers of Illinois, an internationally renowned fertility clinic having 10 clinic locations and 2 IVF clinics located throughout Chicagoland. After you consult with Dr. Jacobs at either his Hoffman Estates or Buffalo Grove locations, you can choose from all 10 clinics to pursue your customized IVF treatment plan. Schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Jacobs by clicking the icon below – or – call 888.325.7389.

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