Breast Cancer Home > Femara for Infertility

Women with infertility issues may try the drug Femara if Clomid has not worked. Studies have shown that Femara (a drug licensed to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women) is at least as effective as Clomid when used to induce ovulation. Healthcare providers may also use Femara as a means of avoiding the problems with cervical mucus and uterine lining that can occur with Clomid.

An Overview of Infertility and Femara

Femara® (letrozole) is a prescription medication licensed to treat breast cancer in postmenopausal women. It is part of a group of medications called aromatase inhibitors. Femara may also be recommended in an "off-label" fashion to treat infertility.
Early studies have shown that it may be at least as effective as Clomid® (clomiphene citrate) in treating infertility. These studies have also shown that Femara may be effective in women who did not become pregnant while taking Clomid. (Clomid is a prescription medication often used as a standard infertility treatment.)

How Femara Works for Infertility

Femara is part of a group of medications called aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is an enzyme found in various places in the body. These enzymes help produce estrogens (particularly, a certain estrogen called estradiol). As the name implies, aromatase inhibitors block these enzymes. By doing this, Femara helps to decrease the amount of estrogen in the body.
When a woman uses Femara for infertility, the medicine is taken for a few days near the beginning of the menstrual cycle. Temporarily decreasing the amount of estrogen in the body sends a message to the brain to increase the production of substances that stimulate the ovaries. This often causes ovulation in women who do not normally ovulate or who do not ovulate regularly.
In many ways, Femara works similarly to Clomid. However, Femara may be less likely to cause certain problems with cervical mucus. Clomid often causes cervical mucus problems, leading to vaginal dryness or cervical mucus changes that interfere with the motility of sperm.
Femara is also less likely to cause the lining of the uterus to thin, as Clomid sometimes does. A thin uterine lining can make pregnancy less likely.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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