Treating Female Infertility Issues: Heparin Therapy
If you and your partner have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive, you may be interested in looking into specific fertility treatments in order to increase your chances of pregnancy. There are many drugs and treatments available tbat can help address your specific fertility issues, helping you carry a full-term pregnancy. The medication Heparin is sometimes used by women who have difficulties carrying a pregnancy to term. If you and your partner are facing similar difficulties, discuss the benefits of Heparin with your reproductive endocrinologist.
What is Heparin?
Heparin is a medication that is sometimes offered during fertility treatments. An anticoagulant, Heparin helps to thin out your blood, preventing it from clotting. Heparin is often given in conjuction with low-level aspirin therapy
Who Uses Heparin?
Heparin is generally only used by women who are facing particular fertility issues. Specifically, women suffering from multiple miscarriages or stillbirths often find that Heparin therapy helps them to carry a pregnancy to term. Women with high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies often have clotting problems in their placentas. This can put a developing baby at risk, because blood clots can block the passage of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus. Blood clots can also disrupt the makeup of the placenta, making it difficult for an egg to implant. Heparin therapy helps to prevent these clots from forming.
How Does Heparin Work?
Heparin works by interfering with your blood's natural clotting abililities. Your blood is made up of individual parts, called platelets. These platelets are sticky, which enables them to bind together. This means that when you experience cuts or bruises, your blood platelets are able to stick together, preventing you from losing massive amounts of blood. Heparin works by making these platelets less sticky, so they can't bind together as easily. In particular, Heparin works by inactivating a compound called thrombin, which is essential to the clotting process.
How Do You Take Heparin?
Heparin can be taken orally or it can be administered through subcutaneous injection. It is typically given in low dosages to begin with, as it is associated with certain risks and side effects. Heparin is usually taken with low dose, or baby, aspirin. Aspirin is also known for its anti-clotting properties.
What are the Side Effects Associated with Heparin?
Heparin therapy is controversial because of the side effects and possible complications associated with its use. Heparin can cause back pain, stomach pain, and skin rash. More worryingly, it is also associated with:
- bone loss (which can lead to osteoporosis)
- excessive bleeding, including nosebleeds, eye bleeds, and heavy menstrual cycles
- hair loss (with long term use)
- high blood potassium levels
Heparin therapy should only be used under the care of a knowledgable health care provider.
How Effective is Heparin?
The effectiveness of heparin in increasing pregnancy odds has been debated of late. However, studies do show that heparin seems to increase the chances of carrying a pregnancy to term. When taken with low dose aspirin therapy, live birth rates are between 60% and 75%.