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A quick Google search might give you the impression that Clomid (clomiphene) is a wonder drug—after all, it’s effective for a wide range of conditions in both men and women. While it’s only FDA-approved for increasing ovulation in women trying to get pregnant, it’s also used off-label to treat infertility and low testosterone in men.
While it’s easy to get your hands on this medication through your healthcare provider if it’s an appropriate treatment for you, you might wonder: Can you get Clomid over the counter? The answer is a definitive no, but keep reading to learn more about Clomid and some OTC supplements that might be worth trying.
What is Clomid?
Clomid is a popular brand name and nickname for generic clomiphene citrate, approved in 1967 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a fertility medication. This fertility treatment belongs to a class of medications known as ovulatory stimulants.
In women, Clomid works by prompting the body to release hormones that increase the chances of the ovaries releasing a mature and ready-to-be-fertilized egg. In women who already ovulate, Clomid can cause the menstrual cycle to lengthen.
Clomid is also used for infertility in men. While the FDA has only approved the treatment for female infertility, Clomid can be used in some “off-label” cases to treat male infertility as well. If you have low testosterone levels and low sperm count, clomiphene can help increase sperm concentration and correct hormone imbalances (Delu, 2020).
Can you get over-the-counter Clomid?
At this point, Clomid can’t be bought over the counter. While some online pharmacies may claim to offer clomiphene without a prescription, you should be wary of these and only take prescription drugs under the care of a healthcare provider.
If you decide to purchase Clomid without a prescription, you may not know that you’ve purchased counterfeit medication. Because the drug you’re purchasing hasn’t been regulated, it could not only be fake but could also be contaminated, ineffective, unsafe, and potentially harmful. Since 2010, the FDA has received over 1,400 complaints of adverse effects from drugs purchased from disreputable online sources (Eaton, 2016).
You also might not know if the drug you’ve purchased is expired or has been stored incorrectly. Drugs are regularly stolen and resold to consumers without attention paid to their expiration dates and proper storage. Clomid, for example, has a shelf life of three years and needs to be stored between 59–86 degrees Fahrenheit (FDA, 2017). If not stored at these particular temperatures, the drug can decrease in usefulness over time.
Lastly, taking Clomid while not under the supervision of a doctor can be dangerous to your health—you could develop side effects while taking the drug that, if unmonitored, can end up compromising both your health and fertility.
Clomiphene side effects and warnings
There are a number of side effects associated with taking Clomid. In women, the following side effects may occur (FDA, 2017):
- Flushing (feeling of warmth)
- Breast discomfort
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Men taking Clomid may experience one or more of the following (Huijben, 2017):
- Mood changes
- Blurred vision
- Breast/nipple tenderness
- Weight gain
The potential to have an adverse reaction while taking Clomid makes it essential to take this prescription drug under the supervision of a medical professional. Your healthcare provider will know to monitor you for side effects and make sure you’re taking the medication correctly to ensure your health and fertility.
Supplements for fertility
For those interested in non-invasive ways to help with their fertility, supplements can be an option to consider. Fertility supplements are dietary nutritional supplements designed to boost the body’s ability to conceive. It’s important to know that, while some data indicates that taking fertility supplements may offer some benefits, other research suggests they have little to no effect. Below, we’ll walk you through some fertility supplement options with more scientific backing than others.
Acetyl L-carnitine and L-carnitine
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) is a form of the amino acid L-carnitine (LC). ALC has antioxidant activity and LC helps cells get more energy. Both compounds may help with sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move efficiently) and quality (Agarwal, 2018; Aliabadi, 2012).
Coenzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, is an antioxidant your body produces naturally. The body’s cells use CoQ10 for growth and maintenance. As you age, levels of CoQ10 decrease (Barcelos, 2019). In men, taking a CoQ10 supplement may improve sperm count, motility, and concentration (Alahmar, 2019). In women, it may improve egg quality, fertilization rates, pregnancy rates, live birth rates, and overall female fertility (Ben-Meir, 2015).
Vitamin D is a prohormone—meaning it’s a precursor to other hormones. Although the body can synthesize vitamin D on its own, the body often doesn’t get enough of this vitamin through sun exposure and food alone. In fact, about 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D (Forrest, 2011).
If you’re trying to conceive, getting enough vitamin D may be important because vitamin D receptors are found in both male and female reproductive tissues. Vitamin D may help with both male and female infertility, but more research is needed (Bosdou, 2019).
OTC testosterone boosters
For those looking to boost their testosterone, there are OTC supplements and vitamins you can take without a prescription. Let’s take a look at some of the various supplements that may help boost testosterone.
Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub whose roots and fruits have medicinal properties. Studies suggest that taking this supplement may raise testosterone levels over time (Lopresti, 2019).
Fenugreek supplements are often used by those looking to boost their testosterone levels in a natural way. Fenugreek contains compounds called furostanolic saponins, which are believed to increase testosterone production. A number of studies suggest that taking fenugreek supplements may improve testosterone levels (Mansoori, 2020).
Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a hormone your body naturally produces in the adrenal gland. DHEA helps the body produce testosterone, and some research suggests that taking DHEA in supplement form may help boost testosterone levels (Liu, 2013).
Whether you’re struggling to conceive or are looking for a way to treat low testosterone levels, it’s important to only take prescription medications under the supervision of a medical professional. By monitoring you for side effects and other adverse reactions, your healthcare provider will be able to ensure you’re taking the medication correctly, and—most importantly—staying safe and healthy.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.