One type of fertility drug that is being used to treat a variety of fertility problems is tamoxifen. Also known as nolvadex, tamoxifin works similarly to clomid (clomiphene) in its ability to improve an individual's chances of getting pregnant. But how exactly does this type of female infertility treatment work and are there any risks or side effects associated with tamoxifen?
What is Nolvadex?
One of the oldest selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), nolvadex is a mixed estrogen antagonist that blocks estrogen from estrogen receptors. As such, it is used to treat breast cancer, as it is effective in blocking estrogen-stimulated cancer cell growth. In addition, it can also help to preserve fertility during breast cancer treatment.
Tamoxifen is prescribed for women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer who are in both the pre-menopausal and post-menopausal stage. However, research shows that tamoxifen is less effective in the treatment of breast cancer in post-menopausal women in comparison to aromatase inhibitors.
Tamoxifen and Female Infertility
Tamoxifen is also used as a female infertility treatment drug, generally on a short-term basis. It is prescribed to women who are unable to tolerate clomiphene. Tamoxifen is similar to clomid, as both are mixed estrogen antagonists and both exhibit the same behavior in tissues.
This fertility drug has been shown to stimulate the ovaries when taken on a short-term basis. In fact, it is considered to be very effective in inducing ovulation and is effective in 65 to 75% of cases, a success rate that is identical to that of clomiphene.
Nolvadex can also increase a woman's chances of getting pregnant; however, in this regard, tamoxifin is less effective, resulting in pregnancy in 30 to 35% of all cases.
It is important to note that there is a risk of multiple pregnancies associated with the use of tamoxifen as a fertility drug, although this risk is quite low. There is a 10% risk of having twins associated with tamoxifen and a less than 1% chance of having triplets or more with nolvadex.
Women are advised to stop taking tamoxifen if trying to conceive, as it should not be taken during any of the stages of pregnancy. As of yet, tamoxifen has not been linked to any birth defects.
Tamoxifen Side Effects
There are a variety of side effects associated with the use of nolvadex, including the following:
- weight gain
- visual problems
- irregular menstruation
- voice changes
- hair and/or nail thinning
- blood clots (thrombosis)
- endometrial cancer
Tamoxifen is administered in tablet form and is generally prescribed as a single daily dose. It should be taken at the same time each day and can be taken either with or without food, depending on the individual's preference.
Trials are currently trying to determine the when tamoxifen should be taken following breast cancer surgery; most doctors currently prescribe the drug for five years after surgery, while in other cases it can be prescribed for two years, or in some cases indefinitely. Speak to a health care provider for information particular to your case.