While there are exceptions, almost every couple diagnosed with infertility will go through at least a cycle or two of Clomid (clomiphene citrate) as part of their fertility treatment plan. This is because Clomid is one of the mildest ovarian follicle stimulators, successful in treating both female and male infertility diagnoses (yes, even with male infertility factors, you may find yourself taking Clomid to boost the chances of success if IUI is an option).
Also, because Clomid is taken orally, it bypasses some of the most challenging aspects of taking the next rung of fertility medications - the heavier-hitting injectables.
What Can You Expect When Taking Clomid?
The great news is that Clomid has been used safely and effectively for more than 50 years. While side effects vary from patient to patient, severe side effects are incredibly rare.
Your fertility specialist or your fertility pharmacy pharmacists will tell you everything you need to know about Clomid. Most importantly, you should be prepared for what you may feel or experience as a Clomid side effect.
These side effects are the result of how Clomid functions. The medication works to stimulate reproductive hormones that cause the maturity and release of your eggs. Wherever there are hormone fluctuations, there are side effects.
Some of the most common feelings or side effects associated with Clomid include:
Almost all symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can rear up when taking clomid. These include:
Bloating or stomach upset
The drug is designed to stimulate your ovaries and help them produce and release more than one egg - but not as many as injectable medications. Thus, your ovaries and reproductive tract can become inflamed, leading to tenderness, bloating and even stomach upset.
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
The medications are forcing your body’s biochemical processes to do something it is not used to, and this is bound to create a little havoc. While some women only experience the mild stomach upset, we mentioned above, others have full-blown nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Read up on natural remedies for supporting an irritated stomach, so you have the right ingredients on hand at home if this happens to you.
Enlarged and/or tender breasts is another potential side effect. If this is the case for you, wearing an ultra-supportive bra, such as a sports bra, can help. Minimizing higher-impact activities also limits discomfort.
Mood swings and irritability
Roughly 25% of women who take Clomid experience notable mood swings and irritability. From grouchiness and lack of patience to “crying for no reason,” you and your partner should be prepared. Making a plan together to weather the fertility medication mood swings (self-prescribed time outs, a walk, deep breathing, a mindfulness app, a huge hug and a reminder, “it’s just the Clomid…”) will help to alleviate the pressure on your relationship.
As we mentioned in our post, Fertility Medications: Expectations vs. Reality, “It’s better to be prepared for the worst and enjoy if it doesn’t happen to you than it is to assume you won’t be affected, and then have your world turn temporarily upside down.”
Headaches and dizziness
You may experience headaches or dizziness. Supporting your body with a nutritious diet, limiting processed foods and refined sugars, minimizing caffeine intake (which you should do when trying to get pregnant, anyway), drinking plenty of water, practicing stress management, and getting a good night’s sleep will help to support you through it.
Flushing and hot flashes
Now’s the time to keep a fold up fan in your bag because, whew, hot flashes and flushing are common.
The above symptoms are the most common and typically fade again after you cycle is complete. If any of them are more than a mild nuisance, check in with your doctor.
Additional Side Effects of Oral Fertility Medication
While occasional blurriness or flashing/spotting in the presence of bright light are a potential, we recommend contacting your physician and/or your optometrist pronto if these symptoms occur for you. In most cases, vision issues are very mild and go away with a few days to a week after your Clomid cycle is complete. However, there are cases where vision problems have become permanent, so it’s always wise to err on the side of caution.
A multiples pregnancy
Your doctor is aiming for a Clomid dose that will stimulate between 1 and 3 eggs max. The goal is for you to conceive and carry one, healthy full-term baby. However, a release of multiple eggs increases the chance of multiple conceptions, which means women who take Clomid have a higher chance of conceiving twins, triplets, or even higher-orders of multiples.*
*Your physician will discuss these risks with you and will monitor your response to the medication throughout your treatment.
More Serious Clomid Side Effects that Demand Attention
While serious side effects or complications of Clomid are rare, they are a slight possibility. The following symptoms demand immediate attention and a call to your fertility specialist ASAP:
Severe pelvic or abdominal pain
If your ovaries become too inflamed, they can cause more severe pelvic or abdominal pain, tenderness, bloating, pressure and discomfort. This can be the signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation (OHSS)
This is the rarest, but most severe side effect of Clomid. If you are determined to have OHSS, you’ll cease taking the medication immediately. In addition to severe abdominal/pelvic pain and discomfort, women with OHSS may also feel or experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart pain/pressure
- Decreased urination
- Extreme stomach or g.i. Issues
Never hesitate to contact your fertility specialist if you experience symptoms that give you pause or that “don’t feel quite right.” S/he is always happy to tell you that your experience is normal than to find out it wasn’t, and you were too shy to call in.
Getting ready to begin your first round of Clomid? Consider using a fertility pharmacy who has all the information and services you need to move through your fertility journey with information, support, and grace. Contact us here at Freedom Fertility Pharmacy to learn more about how our services are designed just for you.