Whether you’re just starting your fertility journey or you have completed multiple IVF cycles, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed with all of the information to consider and the unfamiliar medical lingo being thrown at you. We’re here to help you make sense of it all.
Before we get into the side effects of Menopur, let’s explore its uses and how the medication actually works.
What is Menopur?
MENOPUR® (menotropins for injection) is a medication most commonly used during in vitro fertilization (IVF) to stimulate and develop your ovarian follicles, with the goal of retrieving as many mature eggs, as safely as possible, to maximize your chances of creating healthy embryos and achieving a successful pregnancy.
Additionally, Menopur can help induce ovulation, or egg release, for women who don’t ovulate naturally.
More about follicles
Follicles are the tiny fluid-filled sacs found inside your ovaries that have the potential to release an egg during ovulation, and each follicle holds only one egg.
Our number of follicles decreases as we age, by around one thousand each month.
During an initial consultation with a fertility specialist, your provider will use a transvaginal ultrasound to count the number of follicles you have and measure their size. This process can help determine your likelihood of success with fertility treatments. If you have diminished ovarian reserve, having fewer mature follicles might increase the number of IVF cycles you likely have to complete in order to get pregnant.
How does Menopur work?
Menopur is made up of hormones that naturally occur in our bodies: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). These three are crucial for reproduction.
FSH helps stimulate follicle growth and development, and LH is critical for triggering ovulation. It’s also necessary for the final maturation and release of an egg.
“The hormone hCG is not normally needed for follicles to grow,” says Dr. Ijeoma Okeigwe, Director of IVF and Preimplantation Genetics at Spring Fertility Oakland. In Menopur, its job is to boost the medication's potency.
Why is Menopur used during IVF?
“Menopur works to stimulate the growth of ovarian follicles so that mature eggs can develop during fertility treatment,” says Okeigwe. It helps increase the chances of successful embryo formation and facilitates the ovulation process.
A single egg is released during an unmedicated, natural cycle, but during an IVF cycle, the more eggs, the better. Fertility medications like Menopur help to mature multiple eggs.
During the IVF process, your doctor monitors this progress using ultrasounds and hormone testing, then schedules an egg retrieval once the eggs are mature.
Potential side effects of Menopur
In many cases, women experience very mild or no side effects at all. Yet Dr. Okeigwe advises, “Women with PCOS, a high ovarian reserve, or a blood clotting disorder are at higher risk of developing severe side effects.”
Abdominal bloating is one of the most common side effects during your IVF journey. “Some people may also notice abdominal cramps, nausea, headache, or tenderness, pain, or stinging at their injection site,” Okeigwe adds.
As with any medication, there are more severe yet rare side effects to be aware of. According to Menopur.com, the medication can cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) in women undergoing infertility therapies.
Okeigwe explains that symptoms of OHSS may include severe ovarian enlargement, excess abdominal fluid, and hematologic and metabolic changes. It’s important to note that while these symptoms can be concerning, they typically resolve over time and are not permanent.
If you’re at risk for developing OHSS, talk to your doctor early during your infertility process to discuss your options.
Additionally, severe lung conditions, blood clots, and blood-clot-related blockages have been reported, as well as infrequent reports of abnormal ovarian growths.
Other possible side effects to be aware of are multiple pregnancies, spontaneous abortion, congenital malformations, and ectopic pregnancies.
If you’re concerned about side effects, discuss them with your provider before taking Menopur. See the complete prescribing information for more details about other possible side effects.
Taking and using Menopur
You inject Menopur into your abdomen subcutaneously beginning on day two or three of your cycle. Your dosage and length of treatment using Menopur may vary. And it’s possible to have more than one treatment of the medication.
“Some women find it helpful to ice the injection site for a few minutes prior to giving the medication,” advises Okeigwe. This can help reduce the discomfort or stinging sensation often experienced during the injection.
You can only get Menopur with a prescription from your fertility specialist. Additionally, they’ll closely monitor you to reduce possible side effects of Menopur and enhance its effectiveness in achieving pregnancy during IVF.
Some final advice
We can’t stress this enough: Trust your doctor’s guidance. They are your partner during this journey, and open communication helps them create a stronger, more effective treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Ask questions and voice your concerns. Being your advocate is crucial for ensuring you're well-informed and actively involved in decisions that impact your fertility and overall well-being.
Lastly, talk to someone who’s been there. Join the conversation in Rescripted’s free fertility support community, or join a Spring Fertility Support Group. No matter what stage of the journey you’re in, you don’t have to do it alone.
Blair Sharp is a freelance writer who lives in Minnesota with her husband and son. Her words have been published in various publications, including Parents, SheKnows, The Bump, and Insider. Find her writing daily on LinkedIn and check out her weekly newsletter, The Relatable Creator, for motivation to show up and stand out online. Head to her website www.blairsharp.com for more.