Medicine
Fact-checked

At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Effective Is Letrozole for Infertility?

Letrozole, originally developed for breast cancer treatment, has shown promise in treating infertility, particularly in women with PCOS. It works by stimulating ovulation, often with fewer side effects than traditional drugs. Studies suggest improved ovulation rates, but individual responses vary. Curious about how Letrozole could be your pathway to parenthood? Dive deeper into its success rates and patient experiences with us.
Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen

Letrozole is a medication used to inhibit the production of estrogen in women; this, in turn, may inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer tumors. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved letrozole for infertility treatment, some doctors still use it for that purpose because it is effective in stimulating ovulation in some women. Due to the limited amount of research on the drug for use in infertility, doctors may opt to use it as a last resort rather than a first line of treatment.

The main use of letrozole is in treating women with breast cancer. Certain types of tumors rely on estrogen to grow, and inhibiting the production of the hormone can halt tumors’ progress. Too much estrogen can also interfere with ovulation, and in cases such as those, doctors may prescribe letrozole for infertility if other medications are not more feasible. Preliminary research indicates that it may be particularly useful for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by a hormone imbalance that results in ovarian cysts, who have difficulty getting pregnant.

OB/GYNs sometimes prescribe letrozole to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can result in infertility.
OB/GYNs sometimes prescribe letrozole to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can result in infertility.

Some doctors are reluctant to use letrozole for infertility because there is not enough evidence regarding the medication’s effects on children conceived while their mothers were using the medication. A 2006 study determined that letrozole does not increase the risk of birth defects, as was previously suspected based on a much smaller study, as long as patients were not already pregnant at the time of treatment. However, the FDA still classifies is as a “category D” medication, meaning it can cause harm to a developing fetus, so more research is needed before making a final decision regarding its safety.

Most of the research regarding common and serious side effects was done on patients taking the medication for breast cancer treatment. Due to their age, general health, and compromised immune systems, these patients may experience more severe or different side effects than those taking letrozole for infertility. Common side effects include hot flashes, nausea, headaches, difficulty sleeping, depression, and changes in weight. Serious side effects include stroke, chest pain, and hair loss.

Estrogen plays a role in helping women maintain healthy bones, and significantly inhibiting estrogen production can increase the risk of osteoporosis. This condition causes bone to lose its density, which weakens the bone and increases the risk of breaks or fractures. Since the course of treatment when using letrozole for infertility is typically much shorter than when using it for cancer treatment, it is not as likely to cause osteoporosis when used for that purpose.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • OB/GYNs sometimes prescribe letrozole to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can result in infertility.
      By: ryanking999
      OB/GYNs sometimes prescribe letrozole to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can result in infertility.