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Bromocriptine or Cabergoline for Infertility

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
bromocriptineParlodel
cabergoline 

How It Works

Bromocriptine and cabergoline reduce the body's amount of prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Excess prolactin makes a woman stop ovulating. In a man, it reduces sperm production, impairs sex drive, and causes impotence (erectile dysfunction).

Why It Is Used

Bromocriptine or cabergoline may be used when a woman is not ovulating because she has high levels of prolactin in her blood.

Bromocriptine may be used to treat a man whose reproductive functions are impaired because he has abnormally high levels of prolactin.

High prolactin is commonly produced by a pituitary tumor. If you have elevated prolactin levels, you will need further testing to find whether a tumor is present. Bromocriptine is used to treat male infertility only if it is associated with a prolactin-producing pituitary tumor; the medicine helps to normalize interactions between the pituitary gland and the testicles.

How Well It Works

Among women who have ovulation problems due to excess prolactin, 70 to 90 out of 100 will begin having menstrual periods on a regular cycle and 50 to 75 out of 100 will begin ovulating normally while taking these medicines.1

Note:

Ovulation rates do not reflect the fact that well-timed intercourse is necessary to conceive, and some pregnancies miscarry. In any group of women, ovulation rates are higher than pregnancy rates, which are higher than live birth rates.

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.

Bromocriptine

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Blurred vision.
  • A sudden headache.
  • Very bad nausea and vomiting.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Nausea.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dry mouth.

Cabergoline

Call your doctor if you have:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Constipation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Weakness.

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

What To Think About

While you are taking bromocriptine, avoid alcohol, and use extra care when driving or operating machinery.

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.

Checkups

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.

References

Citations

  1. Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Induction of ovulation. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1293–1330. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised May 14, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.

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