What Are Gonadotropins?

What are gonadotropins and how can they help me get pregnant?
profile picture of Natalie Burger, MD, fertility specialist at Texas Fertility Center
ByNatalie Burger, MD, fertility specialist at Texas Fertility Center
Fertility Specialist
Updated
Jan 2017
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Gonadotropins are fertility medications that contain follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), or both. These hormones are normally present in the brain in both men and women. Gonadotropins can stimulate the ovaries to mature multiple eggs at one time.

Gonadotropins were originally developed by extracting hormones from the urine of postmenopausal women. Brand names for these preparations include Bravelle and Menopur. Newer, recombinant DNA gonadotropins, such as Follistim and Gonal-F, are actually completely developed in the laboratory and are not derived from urine. Both urinary and recombinant gonadotropins are considered to have about the same effectiveness.

Gonadotropins are typically used in conjunction with artificial insemination (aka intrauterine insemination or IUI) or with in vitro fertilization (IVF). They’re generally used for one to two weeks and require frequent ultrasound and blood-work monitoring to be sure that stimulation is happening as planned.

Side effects could include: injection site irritation, bloating, mood changes,  overstimulation and  multiple pregnancy (i.e., twins, triplets or more).

Gonadotropins are typically used subcutaneously — meaning that a very thin needle is inserted just underneath the skin to administer the medication. They’re typically given on a daily basis for fertility treatment.

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