Fertility Basics: GnRH Antagonists for In Vitro Fertilization

Dr. Mousa Shamonki
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Fertility treatment can be confusing— and expensive, whether you have insurance or not. You may be prescribed several different types of drugs, and they can vary based on the type of treatment you’re receiving.

Gondadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists (GnRH antagonists) are one type of medication used in fertility treatments—examples include Ganirelix (ganirelix acetate) or Cetrotide (cetrorelix). Specifically, they’re used as part of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle.

What do GnRH antagonists do?

GnRH antagonists are used in an IVF cycle to prevent ovulation. This allows your fertility doctor to control egg development and retrieve the eggs at the best time to ensure that your treatment is most likely to work.

When would I take a GnRH antagonist?

During an IVF cycle, you’ll start taking a GnRH antagonist after 4 to 5 days of gonadotropin injections. You’ll generally use the GnRH antagonist like Ganirelix or Cetrotide for another 3 to 5 days, until you receive a trigger shot that will prepare your eggs for retrieval.

What are the side effects?

GnRH antagonist injections commonly cause bruising or redness at the injection site. Very rarely, they can cause an allergic reaction. Don’t worry too much though—the vast majority of allergic reactions are mild, with itching, local injection-site swelling, and hives as the most common symptoms.

How can I save on my prescription?

Like most fertility drugs, GnRH antagonists are likely not covered through your insurance—or you may have a very high co-pay or coinsurance. Fortunately, there still are a few things you can do to bring down your costs.

GoodRx offers discounts at your regular pharmacy, as well as prices from MDR Pharmaceutical Care, a popular online fertility pharmacy. You can save hundreds over the course of your treatment by shopping around.

Cetrotide also has a manufacturer offer that will let you save $250 if you’re insured, or up to 75% off your out-of-pocket cost if you’re paying cash.

There are no manufacturer discounts available for Ganirelix—but it’s still worth taking a look on GoodRx or asking your doctor how to find a lower price. If your insurance doesn’t cover this prescription, you could pay as much as $200 per syringe, or as low as $130.

This part of a series of guest posts from fertility doctor Dr. Mousa Shamonki. Have any questions or requests for more information? Let us know.

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