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Clomid Vs Letrozole – Which is best for treating PCOS

Which Is Better for Infertility, Letrozole or Clomid?

Letrozole (Femara) and Clomid are popular fertility medications that healthcare providers prescribe to help patients with fertility problems. These medications are a first line of defence in most fertility treatments. The doctor may prescribe one over the other depending on your diagnosis, so it is crucial to understand the difference between the two.

The medications are often used in cases where a patient is having ovulation issues. It will be easy to determine if you are getting better when you understand how Femara or Clomid can help you in your fertility journey. Of course, you will still need to know your ovulation history and patterns to provide the information your doctor will require when you have the first conversation.

Clomiphene citrate (Clomid)
Clomid Vs Letrozole Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Keep reading to know how the most popular fertility medications like Letrozole and Clomid work, their possible side effects and outcomes, as well as other factors you must consider. Remember that only you and your doctor can decide that’s suitable for you, and since doctors already know more about the medications they prescribe, you should have a little information.

How does estrogen manipulation work?

Both Femara and Clomid are designed for women who have issues with ovulation. The medications work by tricking a patient’s brain into thinking there is less estrogen floating in the system, which will trigger the follicle-stimulating hormone levels to increase, making one ovulate. Since estrogen powers, a woman’s menstrual cycle end is vital for ovulation. Too much of it can cause problems in your cycle and overall health, hence affecting fertility.

The hormone estrogen is vital for conception for several reasons. During the 1st half of a cycle, the hormone levels rise while the uterine lining is getting rebuilt from the last period. The influence of estrogen on the cervix also facilitates conception by helping the cervix open and contract the uterus during ovulation so the sperm can move in the right direction.

Estrogen also signals the pituitary gland once an egg is mature and ready to be released, indirectly triggering ovulation and ensuring the conditions are suitable for implantation. Simply put, estrogen plays a vital role in creating perfect conditions for pregnancy.

Your hormones are essential for regulating your body, so if estrogen is high, it will have noticeable effects on your fertility and overall health. Suppose you do not ovulate regularly, or a doctor confirms that your hormone levels are not ideal. In that case, you may need to take estrogen manipulating medications such as Letrozole or Clomid during your fertility treatment. This therapy is a life-changing treatment, so you will need to consider some factors to determine whether the medications are ideal for you.

Getting to understand the fertility medications

If a woman with ovulation disorders seeks treatment for their condition, fertility medications are the primary treatment solution doctors recommend. These medications increase the chances of conceiving and help a mother carry the baby to term. Letrozole and Clomid help regulate or stimulate ovulation to restore fertility and increase the chances of conceiving.

How does Letrozole work?

Letrozole is a type of medication that’s referred to as an aromatase inhibitor. All medicines in this category work by interfering with your body’s ability to make estrogen from androgens hence lowering the amount of estrogen circulating in the body.

Femara works similarly to Clomid to stimulate ovulation by inhibiting aromatase and limiting estrogen production. Simply put, it will work to promote the growth and release of your eggs if you have ovulation issues. The medication was initially developed to treat breast cancer, but it has also proved effective in treating infertility thanks to the promising results it has been providing.

How does Clomid work?

Clomid, generically known as clomiphene citrate, works like Letrozole by triggering ovulation in women who cannot ovulate naturally or have infertility problems. Once ingested, it will block estrogen receptors causing the pituitary gland to provide more hormones like follicles stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone. These hormones will trigger follicle development as well as ovulation.

The medication will trick your body into thinking that estrogen levels are lower than they actually are, causing the body to increase the separation of hormones which triggers ovulation.

Comparing Letrozole vs. Clomid

Having mentioned that Letrozole works the same way as Clomid, you must be wondering which medications you should take. Well, comparing them will make your decision-making process more manageable.

Generally, medication decisions are made by a patient and their healthcare team, but knowing how these two medications work and why you may need to choose one over the other is an essential factor too. While the medicines function similarly, they have significant differences, mainly regarding their cost, side effects, and success rates.

Letrozole vs. Clomid: The side effects

Most of the medications we take today have side effects, and Letrozole and Clomid are no exception. Some common mild side effects you may experience when taking fertility medications include headaches, hot flashes, nausea, and weight gain. You can expect to experience similar effects when you take any of these fertility medications.

Most women who have taken Clomid / Clomifene report mild side effects like:

  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness

Women who are on Letrozole / Femara experience side effects like:

  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Flushed skin
  • Joint pain or swelling

Other less common side effects experienced after taking Letrozole include nausea, mood swings, and fatigue.

Occasionally, women experience serious side effects after taking Letrozole or Clomid, but this is uncommon. For Letrozole, this could mean increased cholesterol levels, weakened bones, or serious allergic reactions. The serious side effects associated with Clomid include seizures, chest pain, ovarian cysts, or stroke. If you experience any of these side effects after taking either of these two fertility medications, you should consult your doctor or an emergency medical personnel right away.

Letrozole vs. Clomid: The success rates and results

Research shows that expectancy success rates for both Letrozole and Clomid are pretty similar. Clomid has helped between 70 to 80% of women get their ovulation on time, so when you take the medication, it will increase your chances of conceiving by 30%. You have to use this medication for six cycles or less. Therefore, if you haven’t conceived within the next six months, you might need to try another treatment. The good news is that Clomid works well when used in the right circumstances, even though factors like low estrogen levels, obesity, or age may affect the success rate of the treatment.

Studies also show that women who are trying to conceive with PCOS should opt to use Letrozole. All the pregnancy rates between both medications are similar, and the success rates could be affected by individual circumstances, but Letrozole seems to work better.

The general success rate is primarily determined by factors like age, sperm quality, and the condition of the reproductive organs. Therefore, make sure you check the success rate among other women, including your diagnosis, before taking either of the medications.

What works better Clomid or Femara?
Image courtesy of the Penn State Health, Femara vs. Clomid

Letrozole vs. Clomid: The cost and availability

If you haven’t bought fertility medication before, you will be concerned about factors like cost and availability. The price and availability of Femara and Clomid is a significant consideration you need to factor in your decision. This is because health benefits and insurance policies vary on their coverage of infertility treatment, and any underlying medical issues can be a determining factor too.

Both Femara and Clomid are readily available in the market, and their price is comparable. However, factors like your location, the extent of your health coverage, and other health benefits determine the availability and price greatly.

Is one medication better over the other?

Clomid and Femara are both capable of manipulating your estrogen levels, so they can both be used to treat infertility. But when you compare the two, various individual factors will ultimately determine the suitable medication for your condition. Healthcare providers consider factors like your fertility diagnosis, general health, medications you could take, and other health problems before choosing one fertility medication over the other.

Nonetheless, both medications will ultimately help you conceive, but one could be more suitable for your situation than the other. Therefore, make sure you work with your health care team, and consider all the information discussed above to make an informed choice.