What is leuprolide?
Leuprolide is an artificially created protein that mimics the action of a natural hormone in the body. Its role is to reduce testosterone in men and estrogen in women. It is prescribed for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer in men and for treating conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or other hormone-related problems in women. (1)
As part of the ovarian stimulation process in IVF, your doctor might include an injection of leuprolide (Lupron). Leuprolide is an agonist of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which helps reduce the hormone that triggers ovulation. This is done to regulate your ovulatory cycle and prevent early ovulation, allowing your doctor to have reliable access to your eggs for use in IVF. (2)
How is leuprolide taken?
You will learn how to self-administer leuprolide injections at home. Usually, the injection is given daily for two weeks by injecting it under the skin. The drug may be continued to prevent early secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH). Additionally, you may receive other medications, such as oral contraceptives, while taking leuprolide.
It is important to note that the IVF protocol chosen by your doctor may not involve leuprolide, and the specifics of your protocol will be provided by your doctor. While the use of leuprolide in IVF protocols is not officially approved by the FDA, it is widely accepted and commonly used by doctors.
What happens if I overdose?
If you miss a dose of your medication, it’s important to contact your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible. Depending on the type of medication you are taking, missing a dose may have different consequences, and your doctor can advise you on what to do next.
In the case of depot injections, which are given at longer intervals, it is crucial to keep track of when your next injection is due and to not miss it. The frequency of the injections will depend on the specific product you have been prescribed, which is based on factors such as your gender and medical condition.
It’s important to understand the dosing instructions for your specific product to ensure that you are receiving the correct amount of medication at the right time. If you have any questions or concerns about your medication, be sure to speak with your doctor or pharmacist. (4)
What side effects may I notice when I take this medicine?
If you experience any of the following side effects, it is important to contact your doctor or healthcare professional immediately: allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, chest pain, pain at the injection or implantation site, seizures, severe headaches, symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst, hunger, urination, fatigue, or blurry vision, swelling in the feet and legs, or vomiting.
While breast swelling or tenderness, decreased sex drive or performance, diarrhea, hot flashes, loss of appetite, muscle, joint or bone pains, nausea, redness or irritation at the injection or implantation site, or skin problems or acne are side effects that may not require medical attention, it is still important to report them to your doctor or healthcare professional if they continue or become bothersome. (5)
Tsai, H. D., Chen, C. M., Lo, H. Y., & Chang, C. C. (1995). Subcutaneous low dose leuprolide acetate depot versus leuprolide acetate for women undergoing ovarian stimulation for in-vitro fertilization. Human Reproduction, 10(11), 2909-2912.