Follistim: The Basics

Many couples who struggle with infertility turn to fertility treatments to help them build a family. The most commonly used fertility medication is an oral medication known as Clomid, however, this medication does not help every couple achieve a pregnancy and is only recommended to be used for six months, after which, other medications are usually considered. One of these medications is the injectible fertility medication, Follistim.

What is Follistim?
Follistim is a synthetic version of the follicle stimulating hormone found in healthy females. This hormone is responsible for stimulating the production of healthy follicles on the ovaries, thus providing the optimal environment for the eggs to grow and mature prior to ovulation. The use of Follistim helps promote healthy follicle development and egg quality. Follistim is typically used in combination with another injectible medication.

What conditions does Follistim treat?
Follistim, similar to Clomid, is used to treat ovulatory issues and infertility in women trying to conceive a child. Women who do not ovulate, or who ovulate irregularly may be good candidates for Follistim. Follistim should not be used to treat infertility in women who suffer from tubal blockages, or who suffer from primary ovarian failure.

How does Follistim work?
The active ingredient in Follistim is follitropin beta, a synthetic hormone identical to the follicle stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary gland and found in the healthy female body. This hormone is responsible for the development of follicles on the ovaries. These follicles serve as an “incubator” for eggs to mature within prior to ovulation. At ovulation, these follicles burst, releasing the eggs into the fallopian tubes. Follistim works on the body by promoting the production and quality of these follicles, thus increasing the chances of pregnancy.

How successful is Follistim?
Most women being treated with Follistim will ovulate during treatment, however, not all women who ovulate will become pregnant. Most women being treated with Follistim become pregnant within 3-6 months of Follistim treatment, however, factors such as age, health, sperm count and others may affect a woman’s ability to conceive, even while being treated with Follistim.

How is Follistim taken?
Follistim is administered by means of an injection into the skin or muscle. Depending upon the woman’s specific prescription, she may inject herself with the Follistim using a needle and syringe, or a specialized pen with a dial to select the prescribed dosage. Follistim should be administered carefully, each and every time and the injection site should be thoroughly clean prior to the administration of the medication.

What are the side effects of Follistim?
Women being treated with Follistim may experience a wide array of side effects, including moderate to severe lower abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, shortness of breath, swlling of the arms and legs, less frequent urination, weight gain, headache, numbness, pelvic pain, runny or stuffy nose, breast tenderness, skin rash, acne, and pain or swelling at the site of injection. More severe side effects include sudden weakness, numbness, pain, radiating warmth, redness of the arms and legs and severe pelvic pain on one side. If these severe symptoms are experienced, medical attention should be sought immediately as these could be indicative of a very serious health problem.

What are the risks of using Follistim?
Women being treated with Follistim should be closely monitored during their treatment to observe for signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Ovarian hypstimulation syndrome can range from mild to severe. Severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, if left untreated, can result in loss of fertility and even death.

Another risk of using Follistim to promote ovulation is that of multiple births. Follistim carries a much higher risk of multiple births than oral fertility medications such as Clomid. Follistim, like other injectible fertility medications, has a much higher likelihood of producing more than one mature follicle, thus increasing the risk of multiple birth.

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