Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is one of the most common causes of infertility in women. About 7% of women will develop cysts on their ovaries and often have irregular cycles which can make it difficult to conceive. Doctors often prescribe clomiphene in an effort to help PCOS suffers conceive, but this treatment has a very low success rate even after multiple treatment cycles.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests a new drug that dramatically improves the pregnancy success rate for PCOS patients while maintaining a similar rate of side effects. Letrozole, a breast cancer treatment drug, showed a 9% increase in the live birth success rate as compared to clomiphene. Patients who experienced side effects using both drugs reported feeling fatigued, suffering from dizziness and developing hot flashes at rates between 8% and 33%.
The authors expect that doctors will likely begin PCOS patients on letrozole and then switch to clomiphene if necessary. Both drugs are substantially less expensive and less invasive than other fertility treatments. These drugs with the necessary blood tests and ultrasounds cost about $300 a month as opposed to other fertility treatments like IVF which can cost upwards of $15,000 per attempt.