Clomid, also known as clomiphene citrate, is a fertility drug that’s mostly used for women. It works by promoting ovulation or egg production. But as with all other drugs, Clomid also has its own set of side effects which are usually mild and affect everyone differently.1 Clomid acts on the pituitary gland and works like estrogen, the female reproductive hormone. Most fertility drugs are injected, but clomiphene is one of the few taken orally.
Infertility is surprisingly common in the United States and affects 10 percent, or 6.1 million, of American women between ages 15 to 44. Infertility is diagnosed when a woman can’t conceive after one year of trying or gets pregnant but has miscarriages or stillbirths.2 If you’re infertile, you might be considering Clomid as one of the many options. Before you decide, prepare yourself by learning how it works and what its risks are.
How Does Clomid Work?
Clomiphene competes against estrogen. Since it can also interact with estrogen receptors, it blocks estrogen from reaching them. The pituitary gland responds by releasing GnRH (gonadotropin), which then stimulates luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones. These two are needed for ovulation. Clomid basically triggers a cascade of hormonal reactions. If all goes as planned, your ovaries will release a healthy egg that’s ready to be fertilized.
Side Effects Of Clomid
1. Vaginal Dryness
Estrogen is needed to lubricate the vaginal wall. But since clomiphene blocks estrogen receptors, your body will think that you don’t have enough and result in a dry vagina. This can make sex uncomfortable and painful.3 If you have this side effect, use a sperm-safe lubricant.
2. Vision Problems
In clinical trials, more than 1 percent of women had vision changes such as blurred vision, light sensitivity, and double vision. Some women also saw spots, lights, and waves. If you already have eye problems, tell your doctor first.
3. Abnormal Menstrual Bleeding
A little over 1 percent of women experience abnormal bleeding. It can happen in between periods, which isn’t a sign of implantation. Unfortunately, it’s easy to mix up the two. In some cases, women had menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding.
Over 1 percent of women experience headaches. Does this sound like you? With your doctor’s OK, take Clomid at night to “sleep it off.” Otherwise, stay hydrated, as dehydration will spark a headache.
On top of headaches, clomiphene might make you feel lightheaded. Dizziness, nausea, and fatigue might also develop. Ask your doctor how to handle these symptoms.
6. Weight Changes
Like all drugs, Clomid might alter your weight. If it increases your appetite, you’ll be prone to weight gain. On the other hand, if it makes you nauseous and dizzy, you might end up eating less.
7. Dry Hair
Some women may have dry hair. This can turn into weak and brittle locks, making hair loss more likely. Try to keep your hair healthy with natural, gentle treatments.
Dryness can also affect your skin, leading to dermatitis and rashes. Make it a habit to use products designed for sensitive skin. When possible, use all-natural products.
Dealing with infertility is already bad enough. Yet, Clomid can also induce depression and nervous tension. During this stressful time, consider going to a therapist.
Risks Of Clomiphene
Side effects of Clomid are typically mild and temporary. Risks, on the other hand, have a bigger impact. Depending on your health and family history, your personal chances of these risks might be high or low.
1. Twin Pregnancy
Of all the reported pregnancies with Clomid, 6.9 percent were twins. Another 0.5 percent were triplets, 0.3 percent were quadruplets, and 0.1 percent were quintuplets. If multiple births run in your family, you might have a higher risk.
2. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
Clomid might enlarge your ovaries. In rare cases, it can turn into OHSS, which is life-threatening without treatment. Early warning signs include weight gain, stomach pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Call your doctor ASAP if any of these sound familiar.
3. Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts affected less than 1 percent of the women who took Clomid. Fortunately, most were benign and resolved on their own. If you have a history of ovarian cysts, ask your doctor about your risk.
4. Ovarian Cancer
Prolonged clomiphene use may cause ovarian cancer. However, infertility also increases the risk, so it’s hard to determine the real cause. Play it safe and don’t take Clomid for a long time.
5. Irreversible Vision Problems
While rare, it’s possible to develop permanent vision issues with Clomid. Examples include eye pain, cataracts, light sensitivity, and vision loss. These only affected people who continued to take Clomid after the problems began.4
Beyond this list, there are many more possible side effects and risks. Only your doctor can determine how Clomid might affect you. To be safe, follow your doctor’s instructions and take as directed.