Clomiphene citrate and hormonal cocktails: women as test-sites for fertility drugs

Clomiphene citrate has a chemical structure similar to DES


Clomiphene citrate is a drug that has been given to women for conventional fertility treatment for over 20 years. It is also now being administered—often in connection with other hormone-like drugs to an increasing number of women in IVF programmes (many of whom are fertile), in order to stimulate egg cell growth. Clomiphene citrate is handed out as if it were a “safe drug.”

This paper analyses some of the medical and scientific literature on the drug including its effect on the women themselves and the children born after such treatment. It also incorporates our research with women who have used the drug.

Women’s Studies International Forum, Feminism and science: In memory of Ruth Bleier, Volume 12, Issue 3, Pages 333-348, 1989.

Full PDF: School of Humanities, Deakin University, Geelong, 3217, Victoria, Australia,

Cocktails image via bustle.

What surfaces is a disturbing array of health hazards ranging from depression, nausea, and weight gain, to burst ovaries, adhesions, and the promotion of cancer leading to death in some women, worrying rates of birth anomalies in the children and severe chromosomal aberrations in egg cell development. Of great concern is the evidence that the drug may stay in a woman’s body for at least six weeks. Since clomiphene citrate has a chemical structure similar to DES there may be as yet unknown long-term adverse effects similar to those from DES. Given the fact that all these “side-effects” have stirred considerable debate in the medical and scientific literature, we are shocked to learn that

  • (a) the women taking the drug are not informed of its possible detrimental effects;
  • (b) and that researchers continue to state, contrary to scientific evidence, that the drug has no side effects.

We posit that the potential risks from the drug are too great to administer it to any women and demand the development of a different science that places values on women’s lives instead of using them as “living test-sites.”

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