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

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. And hMG treatment requires daily monitoring by a doctor.

GnRH is used very rarely for women who have no menstrual cycle because of a hypothalamus problem (hypothalamic amenorrhea). Some reproductive endocrinologists might try human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) instead of GnRH.

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  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.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised April 27, 2010

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