Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) for Infertility

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Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) for Infertility


Generic Name
gonadotropin-releasing hormone

How It Works

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is produced by the hypothalamus. It stimulates the pituitary gland to produce luteinizing hormone (LH) and, to a lesser extent, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Why It Is Used

GnRH treatment is commonly used:

  • When clomiphene (Clomid) treatment has not stimulated egg follicles to develop on the ovaries.

GnRH works most effectively when used to replace the natural GnRH in women and men whose bodies do not produce enough of it. GnRH may be given:

  • To a woman who is not ovulating because her hypothalamus is not stimulating hormones that trigger ovulation (hypothalamic amenorrhea).
  • To a man who is not producing sperm because his hypothalamus is not stimulating the hormones that trigger sperm production.

How Well It Works

GnRH use results in few multiple pregnancies (usually twins).

Some studies report that the pregnancy rate after a cycle of treatment with GnRH is about 20%.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.

Side effects of this medicine include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

GnRH poses less risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome than does human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG), another treatment for ovulation problems. The small pump used for GnRH may be bothersome to some people. But hMG treatment requires daily monitoring by a doctor.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

After you know you are pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Lobo RA (2007). Infertility: Etiology, diagnostic evaluation, management, prognosis. In VL Katz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 1001–1037. Philadelphia: Mosby.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedMay 14, 2012

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