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Does your doctor want to prescribe Letrozole (Femara) to induce ovulation, increase your chances of getting pregnant, or in conjunction with another fertility treatment? You will want to know what this little talked about fertility drug does, how likely it is to help you get pregnant, and what its potential side effects are. 

What Is Letrozole (Femara)?

Letrozole is technically an aromatase inhibitor. a drug that alters the way estrogen functions in the body. It is used to treat hormone-receptor positive breast cancer and breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Letrozole also has a number of off-label uses, including the treatment of gynecomastia (breast tissue in males). 

Letrozole (Femara) has been used to induce ovulation or increase the chance you will get pregnant even if you do ovulate since 2001. It works because it stimulates the production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone, a hormone that is crucial for conception. As a fertility drug, Femara may be prescribed to women with:

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which frequently leads to a lack of ovulation.
  • Endometriosis.
  • Women who do not ovulate.
  • Unexplained infertility, on its own or in combination with other fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination. 
Letrozole may be prescribed to women who have previously tried clomiphene citrate (Clomid) and have not gotten pregnant as a result. It may also be prescribed as a first-line treatment instead of Clomid. 

How Effective Is Femara As A Fertility Drug?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is among the most common causes of female infertility. While women with PCOS will be advised to lose weight if they are obese, and to take the drug Metformin to decrease insulin resistance before turning to more invasive measures to conceive, many women with PCOS will end up requiring ovulation-inducing medications or requiring assisted reproductive techniques. 

Clomid is often the drug of choice, however, Letrozole (Femara) was actually shown to be more effective. One study found that taking Femara led to a live birth rate of 27.5 percent in women with PCOS, while PCOS patients using Clomid had a live birth rate of 19.1 percent. Those women who ask whether Femara can indeed help them get pregnant should feel reassured by these statistics. 

What Are The Side Effects Of Letrozole?

The most common side effects of Letrozole are dizziness, nausea, feeling tired, headache, joint and muscles aches, and hot flashes. If you're on Letrozole, you are more likely to experience dizziness and fatigue than if you were using Clomid, but less likely to encounter hot flashes. 

You should also know that Letrozole is much less likely to lead to the conception of twins than Clomid, which many women will consider an advantage, since twin pregnancies carry a higher risk than singleton pregnancies. 

On the other hand, the miscarriage rate is slightly higher in women taking Femara than those using Clomid (31.8 percent vs 29.1 percent). Research also indicates that babies conceived with the help of Femara are more likely to be born with a birth defect than those conceived with the help of Clomid (3.9 percent vs 1.4 percent).

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