If your partner is dealing with male infertility issues, his doctor may prescribe male fertility drug treatment. Fertility drugs for men may help to correct hormonal imbalances and improve sperm health, increasing a man’s fertility potential.
How male fertility drugs help
Fertility drugs for men can help with many male infertility conditions, including
- An imbalance of male hormones
- Poor sperm quantity, mobility, and motility
- Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism – A hormonal imbalance in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus that prevents the testicles from receiving the signal to produce sperm
Fertility drugs for men can usually fix only a small percentage of male infertility problems. For instance, fertility drugs cannot treat:
- Retrograde ejaculation – A condition where sperm travel in the wrong direction in the reproductive tract and deposit in the bladder
- Varicocele – A dilated vein in the scrotum
For these conditions, surgery may be the best male infertility treatment option. Ask your doctor for more information.
Hormones and fertility drugs for men
Male hormonal balance is essential when it comes to producing healthy sperm to make a baby. But did you know that the same hormones that control female reproductive processes also control men’s?
Men are sometimes prescribed the same fertility drugs for sperm problems that women take for ovulation problems.
Types of male fertility drugs
If your partner is facing male infertility due to abnormal hormone levels, his doctor may prescribe one of the following gonadotropin treatments.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
Gonadotropin treatment for men can include human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injections of 1500 to 2000 IU about three times a week for up to six months. Your partner’s blood testosterone levels will be monitored and adjusted if needed.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) works by prompting the testes to produce testosterone and sperm.
Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) with hCG injections
If your partner’s sperm count has not improved after six to nine months of hCG treatment, your doctor may recommend human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) with the hCG injections.
Recombinant human follicle stimulating hormone (rhFSH)
If sperm counts don’t increase on hCG alone, another option to boost the effect of fertility drugs is to incorporate recombinant human follicle stimulating hormone (rhFSH).
Treatment with hCG (and hMG or rhFSH if necessary) is not a quick fix. This treatment can sometimes take as long as one to two years for a man to achieve normal fertility.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)
If your partner’s infertility is a result of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism due to hypothalamic disease, he may start treatment with gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). This medication is delivered via a portable pump that looks similar to a beeper with an attached needle and catheter. The drug is delivered through the pump via injected pulses into your body.
This can be a difficult form of male infertility treatment. It needs to be worn daily for one to three years in order to boost healthy sperm production.
One of the most common fertility drugs prescribed to women, clomiphene citrate (Clomid) is another option for male infertility. The general dose for men is one pill of Clomid per day for about three to six months.
Clomid works for men by signaling the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which communicate with the testicles in order to produce testosterone and sperm. However, while Clomid is very effective for many women, studies have shown that Clomid tends to have low success rates for men.
Male fertility drug side effects
Side effects are one of the downsides to taking male fertility drugs. Side effects for the above drugs are common and may include:
- Weight gain
- Temporary visual disturbances
- Breast enlargement and tenderness
Keep in mind that the FDA, which governs all medications, has not yet approved the use of fertility drugs for men.
Male fertility drug success rates
Few studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of fertility drugs for men. We do know that success rates of fertility drugs for men are much lower than they are for women, so fertility drugs are less commonly prescribed for men.
To find out if fertility drugs are a good option for your partner, send him to a doctor for a thorough medical evaluation and sperm analysis.
Seek male fertility medication advice
If male fertility drug treatment does not help you and your partner conceive on your own, there are other options available. Before you make your decision, discuss all of your options with a male fertility specialist.
Be supportive and encourage your partner to talk about his feelings. If male infertility is causing overwhelming stress, help is available.
- PubMed.gov: Clomiphene treatment in male infertility.
- UpToDate: Treatment of male infertility.
- UpToDate: Patient Information: Treatment of infertility in men.