Gonal-F is a medication commonly used to treat infertility. Gonal-F is primarily given to women, although there are some benefits for male patients as well. Gonal-F is part of the gonadotropins grouping of infertility medication. Because it is created in a laboratory, it is classified as a recombinant gonadotropin. Gonal-F is often compared to a similar infertility medication, Follistim, due to sharing some ingredients, but the two medications are used for different types of treatments.
How does Gonal-F treat infertility?
Gonal-F contains follitropin alfa, which is a synthetic hormone designed to mimic follicle stimulation hormone (FSH). Follitropin alfa causes eggs to initially develop and safely mature. Many women are infertile due to their bodies being unable to produce enough follitropin alfa on their own, leading to eggs either failing to develop, or being too weak to lead to pregnancy.
Both doctors and patients typically favor Gonal-F compared to other infertility treatment options. This is becausetreatments with Gonal-F are not as complicated as other infertility options. For doctors, Gonal-F is easier to plan around because the injection comes in multiple doses, allowing for even more customization. This is important because infertility medication often interacts with each other, so doctors normally end up prescribing multiple medications to counterbalance each other. Having multiple doses gives doctors more options and makes it easier to regulate hormone levels. Gonal-F is available in 300, 450 and 900 IU.
How do you take Gonal-F?
Another reason Gonal-F is popular with infertility treatments is how easy it is to administer. Gonal-F is a lyophilized powder, which is administered through an injection. Patients may administer the injection on their own, but if they are uncomfortable with the idea, they can instead have a medical professional deliver the injection. However, most patients opt to do the injection themselves. This is because infertility plans often involve multiple injections over a short period of time, so it is inconvenient for most patients to frequently visit a medical professional for their Gonal-F treatments.
What is the success rate of Gonal-F?
Measuring the success rate of any infertility medication is, unfortunately, difficult. Infertility treatment commonly involves multiple medications, making it hard to determine which medicine is truly the most effective. The success of treatments is also largely dependent on medical history. As of writing, there are also limited studies comparing the effectiveness of infertility medication. Many of the medications currently being used are relatively new, which further limits the available data.
However, the current studies for Gonal-F treatments is relatively positive. One of the earlier studies conducted in 2011 by the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine looked at 1,400 treatment cycles using a gonadotropin medication. For each cycle, the pregnancy rate was 12%. An additional study published in BioMed Research International in 2017 had slightly better results, with the pregnancy rate increasing to 13%. In addition, Gonal-F specifically was found to do better than the majority of other gonadotropin medication, outperforming Fostimon and Menopur.
Other studies have shown success rates as high as 15% per cycle. In addition to positive success rates, studies also show gonadotropin medication is not as risky as other infertility medication. There are some medications which technically have higher success rates, but also introduce more complications, such as multiple pregnancies or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Not only can these complications ruin the current infertility treatment cycle, but it may impact future cycles as well.
Are there any medications you must avoid while taking Gonal-F?
With infertility medication, is important to look for any medical interactions, since patients are commonly prescribed multiple medication to take in a short period of time. The only medication Gonal-F negatively interacts with is Ganirelix. Using the two medications at the same time does not outright ruin a cycle, but it decreases the overall potency of the follitropin alfa hormone. It is possible to mitigate the potency loss from Ganirelix by adjusting doses or adding another infertility medication to the treatment, but this is not common. Doctors also test patients beforehand to see if the two medications can be used simultaneously.
While Gonal-F is compatible with almost every other medication, there are some medical conditions where taking Gonal-F will cause serious side effects. Female patients who are infertile because of ovarian failure must not take Gonal-F. Male patients who are infertile due to testicular failure must also avoid taking any Gonal-F medications.
What are the differences between Gonal-F and Follistim?
Follistim and Gonal-F are often compared to one another because they are similar infertility medications. Both are gonadotropin medications, and both share FSH as a key ingredient. The main difference is Gonal-F only contains follitropin alfa, while Follistim contains follitropin alfa and beta.
This may look like a minor distinction, but it leads to vastly different treatments. Gonal-F focuses on infertility caused by functional issues. This is why patients with ovarian failure are unable to benefit from Gonal-F treatments. Follistim is primarily used for women who are not able to ovulate. Follistim can also help male patients with a low sperm count. Additionally, Follistim requires additional medication to work. It is most commonly paired with human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Normally, Follistim requires more tests and observations to ensure the medication is properly working.
A minor difference between the medications is how they are taken. Both are injections, but Follistim is a liquid, while Gonal-F is a powder. This technically means it is quicker to administer a Follistim injection. However, this small convenience is one of the reasons Follistim is more expensive than Gonal-F. Abdominal pain is more common as a side effect with Follistim, though it can technically occur for both medications.
Potential Gonal-F Side Effects
There are several common side effects with Gonal-F. This includes headache, bloating, mild stomach, abdominal or pelvic pain. This can also lead to vomiting or nausea. Patients sometimes feel numb or experience a slight tingling sensation after taking Gonal-F. Other patients have reported developing rashes or acne after an injection. Some patients also experienced cold symptoms, such as a sore throat or a runny nose. Patients who experience any unusual bleeding, pain or swelling in their calf muscles, or serious swelling in their ankles, hands or feet must contact their doctors as soon as possible.
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