Side Effects of Gonal-f in Women and Men

By (embryologist) and (invitra staff).
Last Update: 05/28/2020

Gonal-f is a drug used in artificial insemination, conventional IVF, and ICSI during the phase of controlled ovarian stimulation.

Its active principle is the alpha-folitropin, corresponding to the FSH gonadotropin obtained in a recombinant way in the laboratory (FSHr).

Due to its hormone content, Gonal-f may have some adverse effects on both men and women.

Side effects in women

The adverse effects of the drug Gonal-f may vary depending on the patient. While some claim to have multiple negative symptoms, others claim to feel nothing with this hormonal medication.

Below, we will comment on some side effects according to their incidence:

Very common disorders
affect more than 10% of women. These are headache, local reactions at the injection site (pain, redness, bruising, swelling and/or irritation) and the appearance of ovarian cysts.
Common disorders
affect between 1% and 10% of women. These are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.
Very rare disorders
only affect less than 0.01% of women. Mild systemic allergic reactions (erythema, skin rash, facial swelling, hives, oedema and breathing difficulty). Worsening of asthma is also possible.

It should be noted that the allergic reactions described could also occur in more severe forms, although this is a very rare adverse effect.

Serious adverse effects

Most of the serious effects that Gonal-f causes in women are those related to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

This disorder is an excessive response of the ovaries to hormonal medication. Multiple ovarian follicles develop which, after ovulation, will turn into large ovarian cysts.

The symptoms experienced by women suffering from hyperstimulation, from lesser to greater severity, are as follows:

  • Pelvic pain, accompanied by nausea or vomiting
  • Weight gain and shortness of breath
  • Possible accumulation of fluid in the abdomen or chest
  • Ovarian torsion
  • Blood clotting with possible thromboembolic episodes

Not all of these adverse effects occur in all women suffering from OHSS. Generally, this pathology disappears with the drop in menstruation without any complications beyond pelvic pain.

If you want to learn more about ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, we recommend reading the following article: What Is the Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)?

In any case, the most severe symptoms of OHS occur in only 1 in 10,000 or fewer patients.

Side effects in men

Men who take Gonal-f to treat male infertility may also experience some adverse effects.

Next, we are going to comment them in order from more to less frequent:

  • Reactions at the injection site: pain, redness, bruising, swelling and/or irritation
  • Varicocele: Swelling of the veins in the testicle
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Gynecomastia: breast development
  • Allergic reactions: skin rash, skin redness, blistering, and swelling of the face with difficulty breathing
  • Asthma can get worse

It is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any symptoms or adverse effects other than those described here.

FAQs from users

Does Gonal-f make you tired or exhausted?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Some women claim to have side effects of hormone medication not described in the Gonal-f package insert. Some of these symptoms are sleep, lack of appetite, increased libido, etc.

Does Gonal-f cause weight gain?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No. What happens is that the hormones contained in Gonal-f can cause fluid retention and abdominal distension, which makes a woman feel more bloated and with abdominal discomfort.

Suggested for you

There are several formats of drug Gonal-f. If you want to know each one of them, we recommend you to continue reading the following post: Gonal-f Injection for IVF - Uses, Dosage, Price & Side Effects.

In addition to Gonal-f, there are other medications used for ovarian stimulation and assisted reproduction treatments. You can learn more about them in the following article: What Medications Are Used for Ovarian Stimulation?

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European Medicines Agency. GONAL-f: EPAR - Product Information. Last update: 10/08/2018 (Link)

European Medicines Agency. GONAL-f: EPAR - Summary for the public. Last update: 28/09/2010 (Link)

FAQs from users: 'Does Gonal-f make you tired or exhausted?' and 'Does Gonal-f cause weight gain?'.


 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
inviTRA Staff
Editor and translator for the English and German edition of inviTRA. More information about Romina Packan

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