etting Pregnant and Improving Fertility: Heparin

Among several types of fertility drugs aimed at improving fertility for couples trying to get pregnant is Heparin, a medication that is often used to treat complications affecting the blood, and is sometimes used as part of an infertility treatment. But just what types of fertility problems can Heparin help to address? And what are some of the symptoms associated with this fertility drug?

What is Heparin?

Heparin is considered a blood thinner medication, also known as an anticoagulant. However, this fertility drug does not actually thin the blood, but instead helps prevent blood clotting or the growth of previously formed blood clots. As such, Heparin does not dissolve already existing blood clots, and is often given in small doses alongside low level-aspirin therapy as part of an overall fertility treatment.

Heparin works by inactivating the thrombin compound, which is found in blood and which is essential to the clotting process. Thrombin inactivation causes platelets in the blood to become less sticky, making them less likely to bind together and form blood clots.

Heparin and Fertility

For the most part, Heparin helps treat female fertility problems – particularly those that affect sustaining a full pregnancy as a result of multiple miscarriages or stillbirth. This is because Heparin helps prevent blood clotting, which can affect the placenta in pregnant women with high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies.

Blood clots in the placenta can interfere with the passage of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus, putting the baby at risk. In addition, blood clots can affect the makeup of the placenta, making it difficult for an egg to become implanted.

There are still some debates regarding the effectiveness of Heparin in terms of improving fertility; however, studies have shown that a combination of low dose aspirin with Heparin can increase the odds of carrying a pregnancy to term, resulting in a 60 to 75% chance of live birth.

Heparin is available in oral forms, but may also be administered by subcutaneous injections that typically begin with small doses and may be accompanied by low doses of other fertility drugs.

Heparin Side Effects and Risks

More studies need to be conducted in order to adequately address the potential risks of taking Heparin during pregnancy – particularly, during the third trimester. Nonetheless there are some known side effects and risks associated with this fertility treatment. Some of the common side effects of Heparin include:

  • back pain
  • stomach pain
  • skin rash

The following are some of the more serious side effects and risks associated with Heparin. If you experience any of the following while using this fertility drug, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible:

  • unusual or excessive bleeding including nosebleeds, eye bleeds, bleeding gums or unusual menstruation
  • bloody stool or urine
  • black or tarry stool
  • bone loss
  • hair loss
  • high potassium levels in the blood
  • chest pain or pain in the groin or legs
  • red spotting on skin
  • sudden headaches, dizziness or loss of coordination
  • sudden difficulty breathing, slurred speech or vision changes
  • unusual bruising
  • stomach/abdominal pain or swelling
  • back pain
  • constipation
  • coughing up blood
  • joint pain, swelling or stiffness
  • vomiting blood or dark substances
  • changes in skin color, hives, or itching

Some of the rare side effects associated with Heparin include the following:

  • rib pain
  • chills/fever
  • blood blister, ulcers, redness or other unusual changes around injection site
  • decreased height
  • frequent or prolonged erections
  • irritation on the bottom of the feet
  • numbness or tingling of limbs
  • cold sensation, numbness or pain in arms and legs
  • peeling skin
  • runny nose or teary eyes

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Heparin or after stopping Heparin intake, seek medical attention immediately. Speak to your doctor about the side effects, precautions, and risk factors associated with Heparin.

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