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Am I more likely to get pregnant if I take a fertility drug such as Clomid?

By Judy Foreman
October 13, 2008
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No, at least not if you take it alone, without other interventions, according to a new study by Scottish researchers in the British Medical Journal.

Neither Clomid (clomiphene citrate) - which is an ovulation stimulator - nor artificially inseminating women with sperm injected directly in the uterus, resulted in more live births than simply continuing to try to have babies the old-fashioned way, concluded the study. It was led by Siladitya Bhattacharya, a professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Aberdeen.

The study involved nearly 600 women who were unable to conceive for more than two years. These women had normal ovulatory cycles, open and healthy fallopian tubes and their partners had normally functioning sperm.

One group of women was randomly assigned to take Clomid. Another group was artificially inseminated (without the use of drugs to produce multiple eggs). A third group continued to try to get pregnant with intercourse but without using methods to predict ovulation such as taking the woman's basal temperature, or using a urine test to detect the hormonal surge that precedes ovulation.

The women in the "just keep trying" group were unhappy about not getting more aggressive treatment. But in the end, their outcomes were no different than the other two groups.

One key lesson from this study, said Dr. Aaron Styer, a reproductive medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital, is that none of these relatively low-tech approaches may be good enough. The pregnancy rates for Clomid, artificial insemination and "keep trying" are all fairly low, other research suggests.

If you have tried for one or two years to get pregnant and are approaching your mid-30s, you might consider talking to your doctor about more aggressive therapies - such as drugs that produce super-ovulation, or vitro fertilization (IVF) - although these approaches carry the risk of mutiple pregnancies.

JUDY FOREMAN

E-mail health questions to foreman@globe.com.

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