The term “fertility” refers to capability of giving birth. For women getting pregnant in this modern era is becoming more difficult, especially when reaching a certain age. Couples are now concerned about their fertility. Women are more concerned than men. There are many factors involved in infertility that are beyond the scope of this article. Most women consult with their physicians for possible solutions and medication that make it easy for them to get pregnant. These medications regulate irregular monthly cycles and ovulation processes. The trend of taking medications for getting pregnant and chance of conception has greatly increased in past few decades. In this article we want to take a look at fertility drugs such as Clomid and their connection with hair loss.

Clomid or Clomiphene

Clomid or Clomiphene is a drug that is mainly taken by women with an unfulfilled desire to have children. The active ingredient is a so-called oestrogen receptor antagonist, which triggers ovulation. Clomid can easily be taken in tablet form and is therefore prescribed as the treatment of choice for infertility.

How does Clomid work?

Clomid is a drug from the group of so-called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM). The active ingredient contained in the tablets is clomifen dihyrocitrate. This is a hormone preparation which acts as an estrogen receptor antagonist (also called antiestrogens). Clomiphene acts by preventing the hormone estradiol from binding to the corresponding estrogen receptors in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, both of which are located in the brain. Due to a complex feedback mechanism, the hypothalamus thereby produces an increased amount of the hormone GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone), which in turn leads to a massive release of LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) from the pituitary gland. The increased release of LH and FSH promotes the maturation of the eggs in the ovary and finally leads to ovulation. In this way Clomid induces ovulation. The ovulation in turn is the prerequisite for the mature egg to be fertilised and for an embryo to develop.

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Indications

Clomiphene triggers ovulation after ingestion and is therefore used in women who are infertile (sterile) due to a malfunction of the fallopian tubes. The indication for taking clomiphene is therefore a desire to have children in women whose fallopian tubes are not functioning properly.

A precondition for Clomid to be successful is that the sterility is caused by hormones. This means that the women to be treated are infertile because they produce too few sex hormones or pituitary hormones. Normally ovulation is controlled by hormones. During the cycle, a woman’s body produces various hormones (GnRH, LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone) which stimulate the ovaries, lead to follicle maturation and finally to ovulation. The mature egg cell is ejected from the ovary and absorbed by the fallopian tube. Fertilisation by a sperm can then take place in the fallopian tube. Due to a reduced concentration of these hormones, ovulation either remains or occurs only rarely, which is why these women are then unable to conceive children. Egg maturation disorders can also be treated with clomiphene.

Side Effects

As with all drugs, side effects may occur when taking Clomid. The adverse effects depend mainly on the dosage and the duration of the medication. The hormonal stimulation can lead to multiple pregnancies and an enlargement of the ovaries. Ovarian cysts with fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity can also result from taking clomiphene. Other common side effects include sudden facial flushing (vasomotor flush) and hot flushes.

Clomiphene prevents the effect of oestrogen by blocking oestrogen receptors. As a result, taking Clomid can cause symptoms that are otherwise characteristic of the menopause. These include hot flushes, night sweats, headaches, impaired vision and a feeling of tightness in the breasts.

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In rare cases, women suffer from nervousness, insomnia and fatigue, depression, sensitivity to light and allergic skin conditions after taking clomiphene. Liver function disorders and problems with vision (flickering eyes, blurred vision or the appearance of flashes of light) can also occur. Frequent use of Clomid (for more than three months) also increases the risk of patients developing ovarian cancer due to hormonal overstimulation.

Does Clomid really cause hair loss?

An unpleasant side effect that many women suffer from after taking Clomid is hair loss. Usually the hair loss disappears after stopping the medication. However, it may take a few months for the hair cycle to normalize and the hair to grow back. If the hair loss still does not improve after several months, there may be another cause (such as a thyroid disorder).

Is there any other medication that increases the chance of conception and does not cause hair loss?

There might be some medication that does not cause hair loss – we recommend to consult your doctor regarding this. But studies show that most of the fertility drugs cause hair loss as they directly affect the hormonal system to trigger ovulation and regular monthly cycles. Targeting levels of hormones may play a significant role in hair loss. All fertile drugs regulate hormones and monthly cycles which in turn is increasing the probability to cause hair loss.

Conclusion

Couples are experiencing infertility and women are now using fertility drugs to increase the chance of getting pregnant and conception. Infertility medication can cause severe side effects including hair loss and births of twins, triplets and quadruplets happen quite often. Most of the infertility drugs directly affect the hormones to regulate monthly cycles and ovulation for increasing the chance of getting pregnant. Thus, it is certain that fertility drugs cause hair loss, as shown by studies.

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Brian Johnson MD

Brian Johnson MD

Dr. Brian Johnson is a professor of dermatology. He has conducted numerous research studies about hair loss and it's effects on the human psyche. Dr. Johnson has written for Maclean's, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post.

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