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Bromocriptine, sold under the brand name Paroldel, belongs to a class of drugs known as ergot alkaloids and is used to treat women suffering from infertility due to excessive production of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia) or pituitary tumors, and men with hypogonadism. It may also be combined with clomiphene (Clomid) to treat infertility in women who do not produce excessive prolactin, such as those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Bromocriptine mimics the neurotransmitters in the woman's body that inhibit prolactin secretion, thereby blocking its production by the pituitary gland. A small amount of prolactin is usually present in the blood of women who are not pregnant, while a large concentration is present during pregnancy and right after birth.

Excessive prolactin production, a condition called hyperprolactinemia, inhibits the production of FSH and LH hormones, thereby preventing ovulation and menstruation. You may be producing excessive amounts of prolactin due to a pituitary adenoma (a benign tumor on your pituitary gland) or if you are taking prescription medication such as antidepressants, opiate drugs or painkillers. Bromocriptine is also prescribed for men who have hypogonadism, when their bodies produce low levels of gonadotropins (FSH and LH), which inhibits the production of testosterone and thus, the proper production of sperm. In addition to low sperm count, a low testosterone level can also contribute to low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.

If your doctor prescribes Bromocriptine, you will take it orally every day until your basal body temperature or an LH kit indicates you are ovulating or you become pregnant. It usually takes between 6 and 8 weeks for it to begin working. Side effects can range from mild to moderate and may include dizziness, nausea, fatigue, diarrhea, and headaches. Rarely, women experience more severe symptoms. If you experience negative side effects your doctor may recommend you administer it vaginally at night before bed to limit such side effects. Your doctor can also limit the side effects by increasing the dosage gradually, beginning with a half dose.

You shouldn't take bromocriptine if you have (or have a history of) high blood pressure, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, liver disease, or mental problems. And because the drug is potentially harmful to young fetuses, you should use a barrier method of birth control until normal ovulation has been achieved and you cease taking the medication.

Approximately 90 percent of women with hyperprolactinemia achieve ovulation with bromocriptine, with 65 to 85 percent of those achieving pregnancy. Bromocriptine does not increase the likelihood of multiples.

One cycle of bromocriptine costs approximately $75 to $112, and your insurance company may not cover the treatment.



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