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The following information is for educational purposes only. Due to new FDA Compounding Guidelines and Telehealth Certifications,
Nu Image Medical no longer offers the HCG Weight Loss Program. GOOD NEWS! We have developed something better and easier: WAYT-less!

HCG Diet Effects on Fertility

HCG Diet Effects on Fertility
Because of the fact that the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin is used as a fertility treatment, dieters are sometimes concerned that there may be a positive or negative effect on their fertility when they try the HCG diet. Although the concern is understandable, the reality is that there are no HCG diet effects on fertility  for either men or women who try the diet, even if the diet is repeated several times. The hormone has several effects on the body in higher doses, the be dose used for the HCG diet is so low that there are no known fertility effects outside of the potential for a small improvement in fertility because it can improve libido slightly for both men and women and it may possibly increase sperm production or ovulation slightly. In order to understand the potential effects of HCG on fertility, it is helpful to discuss a bit about the background of the hormone and how it has been used for fertility treatments.

HCG has a similar effect as luteinizing hormone

The reason why HCG is used as a fertility treatment is because it has a similar effect as luteinizing hormone or LH. LH triggers ovulation in women, and women who have had problems ovulating are sometimes prescribed gonadotropin injections in order to stimulate ovulation. In males, LH stimulates the Leydig cell production of testosterone, which in turn increases sperm production. As a result, males are also sometimes prescribed HCG in lower doses as a fertility treatment if they have low sperm counts. However, the injections are given at a very high dosage compared to the injections given on the diet. There are a wide range of different syndromes that can result in low LH production levels including eating disorders, hypogonadism, female athlete triad, Kallman syndrome and many others, and HCG can play an important role in improving fertility for these patients.

Human chorionic gonadotropin is prescribed at high doses for fertility treatments

The hormone HCG is actually used for fertility treatments, however it is used at a much higher dosage than what is given on the HCG diet. Typically for a fertility treatment, the hormone will be prescribed at a much higher dosage than what is given on the diet, anywhere from between 5,000 to 10,000 IUs or more per injection. The high dose of HCG is necessary for it to have an effect on fertility, and at the higher doses there can be other non-dangerous short term side effects for both men and women. One potential complication is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, but OHSS does not occur with the HCG diet because the dosage for the hormone is too low, and women who take HCG on the diet do not usually experience any fertility effects.

HCG can be used to stimulate ovulation

Another reason why HCG is used is to stimulate ovulation in the case where eggs are being harvested for in vitro fertilization, and at the high doses that HCG is given for fertility there is the potential for OHSS as previously mentioned. OHSS will go away after two to four weeks but there can be some uncomfortable side effects, and medical monitoring may be necessary. The treatment is always administered with medical supervision and continual monitoring of egg follicle development is necessary as a part of the treatment. It is important to note that injections of HCG for fertility is a completely different treatment from the diet, and that the diet does not have any effect or a minimal effect at best on fertility with the very small doses that are used for it.

There is no negative effect on fertility from using small doses of HCG

For both males and females, there is no evidence at all to suggest that there are any negative fertility effect that results from using the small doses of HCG that are prescribed for the diet. The maximum dose that is used is about 200 IU per day, and most patients taken anywhere from 125 IU to 200 IU daily, which is a much smaller amount than what is prescribed for fertility as mentioned above. There is absolutely no evidence that this small amount of the hormone causes any short or long term negative fertility effects; if anything it would only improve fertility by increasing ovulation or spermatogenesis, but the small dosage of the hormone is as likely to do this. The point of giving a small dose of the hormone with the diet is to improve fat metabolism, and any other positive health or fertility benefits that come from the treatment are secondary.

The side effects of the HCG diet are minimal in general

In general, you should not expect very many side effects or fertility effects from the HCG diet. The vast majority of patients will experience no fertility effects at all, and most patients many have minimal side effects such as nausea, dizziness, bloating, rash at the injection site, sore throat, headache and other minor effects. Sometimes patients have no side effects at all from the treatment, while other patients experience more side effects. The side effects will usually go away after the first week of the diet, and both males and females will usually not experience any fertility effects. Most patients get through the entire diet without experiencing any negative side effects outside of the hunger or cravings for food that are expected when attempting a low calorie diet.

Women who have used HCG for fertility should talk to a medical professional before starting the diet

Women who have tried using HCG in the past as a fertility treatment should talk to a medical provider before trying the diet, but there should be no issues at all. HCG can interact with some medications including some of the medications that may be prescribed for fertility, and no hormone diet should be attempted without some form of medical supervision. Women who have used HCG in the past can normally try the diet without any problems at all, unless they had complications with their fertility treatment which is rare. In general, the use of the hormone for the diet is perfectly safe, but a patient's medical history will always need to be reviewed in order to have 100% certainty that the diet is safe.

Don't expect the diet to improve fertility

If you are interested in trying the HCG diet and expect it to improve fertility you are likely to be disappointed, as there is no real or proven effect on improving fertility. The diet has only been proven to result in rapid and safe weight loss, but the other possible health benefits of the hormone are not guaranteed. The only way to get these benefits is to talk to a licensed fertility doctor and find out about the different options that you may have available to you. Your doctor may end up prescribing your HCG, LH or a similar hormone for fertility, but the treatment plan and the dosage will be very different from what you would see on the diet, and you will likely use a commercial brand of the hormone for the treatment such as Pregnyl or Choragon. You may also need to be prescribed other hormones as a part of the treatment such as follicle stimulating hormone which is prescribed under Puregon and Menotrophin, or a combination of LH and FSH which is available as Merional or Menopur. If you have any specific questions about the diet and its potential effects, talk to a medical provider at Nu Image Medical today.


About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

5 min read