Causes & Treatment

Can IVF Medication Bring on Menopause? A Fertility Specialist Explains

Eloise Edington  |   28 Apr 2022

In a recent episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kourtney Kardashian (43) has claimed that IVF medication sent her into menopause and caused her to feel depressed.

At Fertility Help Hub, we know there are plenty of fertility myths and misconceptions, which is why we regularly speak with fertility experts across the globe to separate fertility facts from fertility fiction.

We checked Kourtney Kardashian’s claims that IVF meds brought on her menopause with Rebecca Rich, a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner from Laurel Fertility Care (a boutique fertility clinic based in San Francisco).

To our fertility community: Don’t panic, IVF medication doesn’t cause menopause.

Written by Holly Pigache. Featured image credit: Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram (@kourtneykardash)

Kourtney and Travis (“Kravis”)

Kourtney Kardashian has been with her husband (former Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker) publically since February 2021. This month, Kourtney and Travis tied the knot and aired their intentions of trying for a baby together.

Wishing to grow their blended family (Travis has three children from his previous marriage while Kourtney has three children with her ex-partner), the couple has undergone fertility treatment in an effort to get pregnant.

In the episode, Kourtney speaks with her mum about their struggles, explaining they’ve tried IVF. “Travis and I want to have a baby, and so my doctor took us down this road of doing IVF,” says Kourtney, adding that “it hasn’t been the most amazing experience.”

Can IVF Medication Bring on Menopause?

Anyone who’s had fertility treatment knows it’s not always an easy ride. Fertility-friendly eating can feel like a bore and IVF medications (particularly hormone injections) can lead to unwanted side effects.

Like many, Kourtney says fertility treatment has left her feeling “awful” and “a little bit off, not like myself; super moody and hormonal. I’m a lunatic half the time.”

A side-effect of medication for fertility treatment that is commonly talked about is a shift in mood. Yet Rebecca reminds us that “most people on IVF medication do not feel mood changes or irritability” and any changes “would be temporary and will stop once the medications have been stopped.”

In fact, “the most common side effects [of IVF medication] are bloating, fatigue and headaches,” Rebecca states. “Outside of the medications, patients often feel anxious or depressed while experiencing infertility or going through fertility treatment because of the emotional toll it can take on the individual and family.”

In the fertility community, it’s understood that IVF medication can bring on feelings of brain fog (read our article here) but can IVF lead to menopause?

In a confessional to her mum, Kourtney says “The medication [fertility specialists] have been giving me put me into early menopause.”

Credit: Kourtney Kardashian’s Instagram (@kourtneykardash)

Fertility expert, Rebecca says “IVF medication cannot cause someone to go into menopause. Menopause is due to the decline of estrogen that happens with age in people with a uterus and ovaries. In an IVF cycle, we retrieve as many mature eggs as we can get, however, this is the number of eggs you would have recruited and that would have died with that cycle anyway.”

Rebecca continues, “When we do IVF, we do not deplete your ovaries; we are simply retrieving the eggs that your body would have naturally recruited and disposed of after ovulation.”

Kourtney also claims that, because she’s “so clean and careful” with what she puts in her body, the IVF medication is “working as a contraceptive instead of helping”. Is it possible for fertility medication to stop you from getting pregnant, especially if you follow a fertility-friendly diet?

“IVF meds work differently than contraceptives,” Rebecca begins. “Contraceptives contain estrogen and progesterone, or just progesterone – these hormones in birth control prevent you from ovulating and growing an endometrial lining, and create changes to your cervical mucus. All these things hinder your body’s ability to get pregnant.

IVF meds work by stimulating your ovaries to recruit and grow many follicles/eggs to collect. Other IVF meds are added to prevent premature ovulation of the eggs you have grown and then additional medication makes you ovulate at the right time. IVF medication and contraceptives contain different hormones that work differently on your body because their goals are different.”

Whilst women’s experiences of fertility treatment like IVF can vary, there are common side effects from IVF meds.

What Common Side Effects Can You Expect During IVF?

Rebecca reminds us: “Some of the side effects of the IVF medications are similar to the side effects someone going through menopause experiences. For example, some side effects of IVF meds are:

Some common side effects you may experience when administering IVF injections include:

  • Mood changes, e.g. a low mood, not feeling like yourself, feeling irritable
  • Headaches
  • Foggy brain
  • Restlessness
  • Bloating
  • Bruising/swelling at the injection site
  • Hot flushes/flashes
  • Nausea
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Irregular bleeding

Once the medications are stopped after the egg retrieval, the side effects will go away and you will no longer feel these symptoms.”

Many of these symptoms are similar to ones experienced in menopause which may account for Kourtney Kardashian feeling like she began menopause when having IVF medication.

There’s no need to worry that IVF medication will bring about menopause. However, if you’re concerned about any side effects of fertility treatment or worrying about whether a symptom is “normal”, speak with your fertility specialist.

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