I Hated My Clomid Fertility Drug Experience—Here's Why I'm Still Grateful for It

One hopeful parent-to-be documents her experience using Clomid to enhance her fertility—and tells future parents exactly what they can expect from the drug.

Woman at the doctor's

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There was a time in my life where I'd probably think fertility drugs like Menopur and Ovidrel were just some super unfortunate celebrity baby names. That was before pelvic ultrasounds, estradiol, and tacrolimus became a part of my everyday coffee break chit chat. It was during a simpler, and deeply naïve era in my existence, in which Follistim and Gonal-F were surely just the latest characters to be killed off in Game of Thrones.

Sure, I would learn all about Menopur and company soon enough, but at this early point in my infertility journey, it was all Clomid, all the time. For those new to the infertility drug scene, you could call it the gateway drug or the prequel to all of the other fertility drugs listed above.

Or you could talk about it the way fertility pro Will Kiltz, director of communications at CNY Fertility talks about it. "Clomid can be considered a front-line treatment and is frequently used as the first fertility medication someone is given," says Kiltz. "In its first use, it is usually taken and combined with [regular] intercourse. If that does not result in a pregnancy, Clomid is usually combined with intrauterine insemination (IUI)."

Why I Needed Clomid

Clomid is usually utilized to assist for a few specific reasons to enhance fertility. The first is to give the ovaries a little extra oomph to stimulate the development of extra eggs. "It is also used to induce ovulation in women who do not release an egg in a predictable and reliable manner each month, or at all," says Kiltz.

That was me. Unpredictable. In December of 2016, the stress of infertility was getting to me emotionally, and also causing havoc on my menstrual cycle. One month it would start early, the next month it would start late. I just couldn't keep it in line, which was part of the reason I was having a hard time keeping it all together.

After three months of hoping, and three months of failing with IUIs, I was no closer to becoming a mother than when I started. It actually felt like I was nowhere near the starting line. I was just aimlessly driving around in the parking lot, looking for any spot I could find.

To say I was rattled would be like putting a collared buttoned up shirt on my emotions. I wasn't ironed, or tailored, or buttoned at all. I was tattered.

My preconception blood work had been good, my super personal physical exams had cleared me for take off, but still no baby.

I was lost in search of an answer. I was frightened to keep pursuing the fertility treatment process, but I was also terrified to stop. Fiscally speaking, there was also a deep pain and empty feeling in my bank account as well. Every consultation, every ovulation kit, every vial of sperm and shipping, each insemination, all of it, was not covered by insurance and all paid for by the quickly dwindling savings I had pulled together for treatment.

Fighting Clomid Side Effects

After my third painfully failed IUI, my fertility specialist called me in for another $200 consultation. He recommended that we be a smidge more aggressive and suggested that we give Clomid a go.

With Clomid, there is a slight increase in the chance for multiple babies. That's the one side effect I heard about—multiple, cute, adorable, lullaby loving babies. But that wasn't the only side effect; there were others.

"Some of the most common symptoms or adverse side effects seen in some, but not all, people using Clomid include: mood swings, flushing or hot flashes, abdominal/pelvic fullness or discomfort, ovarian cyst formation, nausea or upset stomach, breast tenderness, headaches, visual disturbances, disturbance of uterine endometrial lining growth, and cervical mucus changes," says Kiltz.

It's important to note many of the side effects that accompany Clomid are mirror images to the symptoms that accompany pregnancy, which can make navigating the process even more frustrating when you're a hopeful parent-to-be.

So, like I said, my doctor may have mentioned the other potential side effects of taking Clomid, but we had reached the point in my journey where the motto was, "Two babies, better than no baby."

And with a scribble on a prescription pad and $23 to my local pharmacy, I had my order for five Clomid pills, and waited for my period to begin.

On day five of my cycle, I began taking the medication. In the days that followed, I had transvaginal ultrasounds (yes, while on my period), I took more Clomid, and had more transvaginal ultrasounds. It was a process. We were looking for signs of follicle growth, and for possibly mature eggs. We were looking for our window to inseminate.

When insemination day came, I was excited and confident and ready. This had to work. This was aggressive reproductive medicine, damn it. This gets results. This will make me a mother.

Leading up to the day of my pregnancy test, I felt mood swings; I had heartburn, and indigestion. My breasts were tender. My boobs never hurt with my period! I never got nauseous with my period! I only had heartburn once, after a massively spicy (and totally worth it) dinner. This had to be it!

A few days later, when I peed on a pregnancy test, it wasn't it. The test was negative. All my signs, all my symptoms, all my "had to be" moments, were simply the side effects from the Clomid. As an added bonus, I had also developed an ovarian cyst that required I sit out a month before trying again.

Fertility and My Emotional Journey

Every day for two years, I was emotionally and mentally gaslit by Clomid and all of the other fertility drugs that followed. These medications, with their side effects that are just pregnancy impersonations, made me believe something about myself and made me doubt something about myself simultaneously. I couldn't trust my own emotions or my own body during a time when I needed just one thing I could believe in.

During this period, nothing in my life felt stable, safe, or reliable, even if I did feel pregnant.

I would continue the Clomid route at different doses for two more cycles before graduating to injectable medications with my inseminations. Those didn't take either.

For me, for whatever reason, inseminations would never take. Neither would the first two rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF). But that third round of IVF took, and it took good.

My son Wyatt was born in April of 2019.

As I look back on it now, my son wasn't my Clomid baby, or my Follistim baby, or my high dose stim baby. He was the baby that came through lots of trial and error, and going back to the drawing board, and trying again. He was the baby who came because I tried, and tried, and tried some more.

I hated Clomid, but I love that hating Clomid led me to hating the next medication, which led me to my next procedure, that thankfully led me to my Wyatt.

The pills of infertility are super hard to swallow, but for me they were 100% worth it. Even Clomid.

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