What is Clomid and how does it work?
The prescription-only fertility drug Clomid is pretty common - so how does it help fertility? Are there any side effects? And how often does Clomid work? Here's everything you need to know...
If you’re struggling to conceive, there are plenty of fertility treatment options and drugs you’ll likely consider before going down the IVF road – and Clomid is one of ‘em.
You’ve probably already heard the name Clomid floating about in the air, on forums, or maybe your doc’s mentioned it – and you’re wondering if it might be an option for you.
Well, in our guide to Clomid, we’ll help you figure out just that, answering all the big questions:
- What actually is Clomid?
- Who can use Clomid?
- How can you get Clomid, and does it cost?
- How often do you take Clomid?
We’ll also look at:
Simply click one of the links to skip ahead to your chosen topic, though if you’re hoping to learn everything you need to know about Clomid, we’d suggest scrolling through the whole piece ?
So, what is Clomid? How does it work? We explain it all, with a little help from consultant Carla from Zita West Clinic…
Clomid (or Clomiphene Citrate) is a drug used to help women ovulate.
Clomiphene is an oestrogen-like hormone that acts on the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovary to increase levels of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and luteinizing hormone (LH, which is also important in the process of ovulation) to help to produce one or more eggs in a cycle.
Carla says it’s really effective: “A few women might be Clomid-resistant, however 80% of women with irregular ovulation or anovulation will ovulate with Clomid."
Women with irregular ovulation cycles who need a ‘boost’ – but not those with other fertility issues – will likely find Clomid mot useful.
Clomid can help you to ovulate more regularly, enabling you to better predict the days you’ll be most fertile, so that you can have sex on those days.
It’s thought to be a good 'first step’ on the TTC journey, and is also used for women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
Of course, if you don’t yet know what’s causing your infertility – it’s SO important to get yourself and your partner checked out, so your doc can ensure Clomid’s the best treatment for you.
If you end up being told you have unexplained infertility, there is limited evidence that does suggest Clomid can also help you to conceive.
In these cases, may be more effective when it is used as “a boost” to generating more eggs. Due to its anti-oestrogenic properties, it can occasionally result in the womb lining being thinner and additional medication such as Oestradiol supplements might be needed to help to overcome this.
Finally, Clomid can be used for ovulation induction in conjunction with IUI (not IVF), as a second line treatment, in which fast moving sperm are selected to enter the womb in conjunction with the release of an (or more than one) egg.
Who is Clomid not suitable for?
Again, we want to stress how important it is to make sure yours and your partner’s fertility is checked, in order to ensure there's no problem with blocked tubes or a low sperm count.
Unfortunately, if either of these issues affect you or your partner, you will not be an adequate candidate for Clomid. Instead, have those matters addressed first, before considering taking a fertility drug.
More like this
Clomid is rarely used as part of IVF treatment, and it’s also not recommended for women over the age of 40.
Clomid is only available on prescription, so your doc will have to prescribe it to you.
We’ve seen lots of comments on this article from women wondering where to buy Clomid. Please don’t buy drugs off the internet, and make sure your treatment plan comes from your medical professional.
How much does Clomid cost?
A month's supply of Clomid is around £12, much cheaper than further-down-the-line options like IUI and IVF, although does not offer the same chances of conception.
When you are prescribed Clomid by your doc, you’ll be told how often and when to take it. But consultant Carla says there’s a pretty standard recommendation for most women:
"We recommend taking 50mg of Clomid daily for 5 days, day 2 or 3 until day 6 or 7 for 3 – 6 months,” she says. “It shouldn't be taken for any longer than this.”
By monitoring the days you are ovulating on Clomid, it can better be predicted when to have sex to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.
Carla adds: “Taking Clomid for longer than this increases the thinning effect on your womb and can act to lower your chances of conceiving.
“At the Zita West clinic a scan is done around day 10 to check the thickness of the womb is developing correctly and if it isn't, there are other drugs (oestradiol supplements) that can be given to counter this.”
In some instances, the level of Clomid will be increased to 100mg a day, and in very rare cases it can be increased to 150mg.
Don’t increase doses by yourself, even if you think you need to.. Discuss everything with your fertility expert or doc.
In rare cases, Clomid may cause the following symptoms:
- Ovarian hyper-stimulation (OHSS) - where your ovaries become enlarged which can cause abdominal discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hot flushes
- Blurred vision.
Many women don't experience side effects and have a fine time taking Clomid to boost their fertility.
However, we do know from some of our MFM mums that the OHSS-type pains can be pretty unpleasant, with Andi30xx telling us:
"I took Clomid for 3 months and I found it horrendous. I ovulate fine on my own but it was the only thing the NHS would try for our unexplained infertility.
"The bloating and tension across my tummy the week leading to ovulation was horrible then the few days around ovaulation, I had some excruciating sharp pains, I would break into sweats with the pain."
If you've got concerns about any pain your experiencing, def seek medical advice ASAP. (Fortunately, Andi was fine, and came off Clomid 3 months into using it.)
We’ve also heard reports from our mums who said it made them gain a little bit of weight – but keep in mind, with all those hormones whooshing around you, that’s hardly a big shock.
(With pregnancy comes weight gain, too, so we do hope that’s not a worry for anyone trying to conceive.)
Interestingly, Clomid increases your chances of having a multiple pregnancy by 8%, Carla adds.
Overall, Clomid is thought to be successful in about 10% of cases. However, the stats do vary a bit.
At the Zita West clinic, Carla says this is closer to 18% (we don't know whether this is when used with IUI treatments, though.)
Keep in mind that the much-more-expensive IVF route has a success rate of 32.2% for women under 35, on their 1st round, and 20.8% for women aged 38 - 39.
Generally, if you want to give yourself the best chance of getting pregnant, it's important to keep up a healthy lifestyle (no booze, no smokes and a balanced diet) in addition to treatments.
Finally, we know this isn't the most inspiring stat you've ever seen - but that's 10% of cases where it DOES do the trick.
Keep the faith, and always check in with your fertility specialist on the best treatment plan for you ?
Lots and lots of women have tried Clomid – and all of them have had differing experiences of their time on the drug, and the outcome.
Some women do get their baby thanks to Clomid. We've got a FAB thread on our MFM forum of mums sharing their Clomid success stories.
Rach L also got her baby, and told us on FB: “My 6-week-old was conceived on second round 50g Clomid used along side temperature monitoring to see when I ovulated.
“Only side effect was putting on weight. I would use it again if needed.”
"I will shortly be TTC my 3rd Clomid baby!” adds Nothappybeingwithchanged on our forum.
“My first is 3 in October and my second is 1 in about 3 weeks!!!! This was after being told it probably wouldn't happen without IVF!"
Agrees Maxine S: “The first time it didn’t work and I ended up conceiving naturally. The second time Clomid worked first time around.”
Indeed, it’s not a success for everything, as Sharon C knows too well: “I used it for about 9 months, didn’t work. I have got a beautiful little 2-year-old daughter. I had three goes of IUI to get her.”
And Julie LS, who shared: “I had Clomid when I was trying for a baby and it didn’t work for me. This was over 8 years ago.
“I tried IUI but became pregnant naturally in the end with my beautiful son who is 6-years-old now.”
Lots of celebs have opened up about using Clomid, too, not least Jools Oliver – who sadly got all the side effects the 1st time she used it.
“I had all the side effects. Dizziness, panic attacks, blurred vision… [but I was] determined to get the thing done,” she told People.
“It was awful, but I just thought: ‘Keep going.’ I’m sure any couple that has been through fertility treatment understands what I’m saying.
“I think I spent lots of time panicking and that made the effects of the drug worse.”
Jools was successful with Clomid despite her unpleasant experience with it, and it helped her to conceive a 3rd time.
Images: Getty Images
Six big family moments that matter – and the products that make them easier to navigate
These products from John Lewis & Partners help support the memorable moments of family life.