Yesterday’s topic was on Clomid, particularly with respect to the things you need to know. Today we are pitching it against its arch -rival, Femara!
The first time I heard about Femara was when I was already cycling for IVF. One of my close friends, who had also battled infertility for a while, got pregnant using the drug. I knew she had started off on Clomid, and wasn’t aware that she had made the switch to this drug I had never heard about. She raved so much about it, and swore that it was better than Clomid. I immediately ran to Google to check it out, and was amazed to see that there were many raging debates on which of these was the better option. Even the online community I was a member of had a comparison thread. I was amazed! Why had I never heard about this Femara before?!
When I started reading up on it, I was initially thrown by the fact that it was originally designed as a treatment for breast cancer. This definitely got a raised eye brow from me. Basically, Femara (or Letrozole), helps suppress estrogen levels, thus increasing the level of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). This FSH is essential for the development of (a) mature ovarian follicle(s), and the subsequent ovulation of (an) egg(s). This is pretty much the same way Clomid works. Just like Clomid, it helps women with ovulation problems ovulate, but unlike Clomid, it is also useful for women who already ovulate on their own, making them prone to “super ovulation” (i.e. developing multiple follicles and releasing multiple eggs).
The monthly chances of ovulation are the same for both Clomid and Femara, however studies have shown that a lot of women who will not respond to Clomid will respond to Femara. Studies have also shown that even though some women who ovulate on Clomid might not conceive, a higher number of women will conceive on Femara. In addition, the notorious side effects of Clomid are not experienced with Femara.
When I read all this, I was completely sold on this Femara. I wondered why it hadn’t been presented to me as an option, when it was so obviously better than its rival Clomid. That was until I came across Femara’s own possible side effects, and I immediately realised why. Apparently, there is a possible higher incidence of birth defects in pregnancies arising from Femara. In fact, many Doctors will not prescribe it because of this concern. More damning was the fact that the manufacturers of the drug have even issued a warning on the possibility of these birth defects (some have argued that this was done more for legal than scientific reasons, but still not a good indicator). These manufacturers have also not filed for FDA (Food & Drug Administration) approval for its use as a fertility drug (choosing to limit it only for cancer treatment). The Doctors who have prescribed it have done so in an “off label” way. Hmmmm! For me, that was case closed right there!
In all fairness, my friend has 2 beautiful and healthy boys, conceived through Femara…and there is a plethora of women online who swear by Femara, most of whom suffered badly and/or failed to conceive with Clomid. But for me, and this is my personal opinion, I would rather deal with the crazy side effects than compromise the health of my unborn child.
So…the debate still rages! What’s your take?
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here
With references from: