Kourtney Kardashian Says IVF Meds Caused Menopause But Can They?

Hulu’s series The Kardashians follows Kim, Khloé, Kendall, Kylie, and Kourtney as they navigate their fame, their careers, and their families. The new episodes also give fans a peek into the sisters’ relationships — like Kim’s connection with Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson and Kourtney’s romance with musician Travis Barker.

Kourtney and Travis’ journey to start a family together is one of many major plot lines this season. The show will follow the pair as they begin in vitro fertilization, or IVF. “Travis is fully supporting her every step of the way,” a source previously told Us Weekly. “The journey just affirmed their bond and love for each other.”

“It was important for her to also share her pregnancy journey,” the source added. “They’re very committed to each other and raising their kids as a blended family but are hoping to have a child together.”

The series’ second episode revealed clips of Kourtney, 42, starting the IVF process with Travis, 46, by her side. And it wasn’t easy: “Travis and I want to have a baby and so my doctor took us down this road of doing IVF and it hasn’t been the most amazing experience.” Kourtney said, according to People.

In another scene, Kourtney told her mom Chris Jenner that she’s “gained so much weight” as a result of the medication she had been taking for IVF. “The medication that they’ve been giving me, they put me into menopause,” she said. “Literally into menopause.”

“Based off of what? A drug? ” Kris asked. “Yes,” Kourtney replied, “the medication basically put me into depression.”

But can IVF medications really trigger early menopause and depression? Here’s everything you need to know, according to an expert:

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No, IVF medications can’t cause early menopause.

“IVF does not cause or trigger early menopause,” confirms Jenna Turocy, MD, an assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

During your menstrual cycle, your body prepares a group of eggs for ovulation, but only one or two eggs actually mature and are released. The rest die off. Turocy says IVF medications are designed to save the rest of those eggs, so they can be collected by a doctor.

Over time, the total number of eggs in your ovaries drops. You are born with around 1 million, and by puberty, only 300,000 are left, according to the Cleveland Clinic. As the number of eggs gets even smaller, that’s when menopause begins, Turocy explains. After that, your periods will become irregular and eventually stop, signaling full menopause.

Most women begin menopause at age 51, according to Turocy. “But about 10% of the population will go through menopause earlier,” meaning it’s not uncommon to experience it in your early 40s.

“IVF medication themselves, they don’t actually affect your future eggs,” she says. The meds can’t make you infertile or cause menopause since they don’t impact the eggs you have left.

However, IVF medications may cause side effects that can overlap with menopause symptoms.

“Both in menopause and through IVF, you have a fluctuation of your hormones,” says Turocy. In both cases, the amount of estrogen that’s in your body drops significantly.

One type of IVF medication, Lupron, tells your body to stop making estrogen. This helps prevent OHSS, aka ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a condition where the ovaries swell and become painful, according to the Mayo Clinic. During menopause, your body is also in a lower estrogen state. As a result, many of the symptoms can seem similar, including weight gain and vaginal dryness, according to Turocy.

FWIW, Kourtney doesn’t specifically mention which IVF meds she took.

“It’s important to remember that Lupron is only temporary, so once it’s out of your system, your body’s going to go back to its normal hormonal balance,” Turocy adds — this is true for other IVF meds, too. “Unlike menopause, which is not temporary.” Usually, it takes about two weeks for the meds to work their way out of your system.

Turocy says these side effects are totally normal to experience during the IVF process, and that they’ll go away once you stop taking fertility meds. But let your doctor know if you’re in serious pain or discomfort, or you notice that you’re gaining more than one pound per day.

Fertility drugs can affect your mental health, too.

On the show, Kourtney also confided in Kris that she felt “off.” “The medication basically put me into depression,” she explained.

“I feel like I’ve never seen you happier so the depression thing surprises me,” Kris said. Kourtney replied, “And I have everything in the world to be happy about. I just feel a little bit off. I’m super moody and hormonal. Like, I’m a lunatic half the time.”

According to Turocy, fluctuating hormone levels from IVF medications can also cause irritability and unpredictable mood swings. Infertility (no matter what the cause is) can contribute, too. It’s more common than you might think: One in five women between the ages of 15 and 49 who haven’t had children before find it difficult to get pregnant, the CDC reports.

“Feelings of anxiety, sadness, irritability, and loneliness are normal reactions to such a challenging experience,” Turocy added in an email. And, she notes that women who have difficulty conceiving are more likely to have anxiety and depression, which a 2021 study in Fertility Research and Practice confirmed.

Going through perimenopause can also contribute to symptoms.

You may also experience an overlap of symptoms if you’re in perimenopause, the transition phase your body goes through before menopause, per the Mayo Clinic. Some women experience perimenopause as early as in their mid-30s, but it’s more common to notice changes beginning in your 40s.

Symptoms may include the same mood swings and vaginal dryness. You may have irregular periods, hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and bladder issues, too.

It’s not that IVF meds will put you into menopause if you’re already in perimenopause — it’s just that you may be experiencing symptoms from both factors at the same time, Turocy says.

If you’ve previously frozen your eggs, your symptoms might not be as intense.

“The worst symptoms are usually during the actual egg retrieval process,” Turocy notes. “That’s where your hormones can be the highest.”

Your doctor will likely give you a variety of medications during this process: Hormones stimulate the development of more than one egg at a time in your ovaries, while meds like human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) help your eggs mature faster, per the Mayo Clinic. You may also take progesterone, which prepares the lining of your uterus to accept an egg.

Later on, if you’re using IVF to implant embryos made with eggs that you have previously frozen, your doctor will probably give you a lower dose of IVF meds. This means that your symptoms will likely be less severe.

Kourtney is one of many women who have gotten honest about their fertility journeys.

Other celebs like Selling SunsetHeather Rae Young and Amy Schumer have also been outspoken about undergoing fertility treatments.

“I started my egg freezing journey two years ago but this year it’s really different and my mindset has shifted along the way,” Heather shared in a recent Instagram post. “Sharing my journey was something I struggled with because every women’s experience is so different,” she continued. “This is something I think can be really empowering.”

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Amy has also documented her IVF journey on IG.

“I have so appreciated everyone sharing their Ivf stories with me. They made me feel empowered and supported,” the comedian and actress wrote. “I just wanted to share and send love and strength to all of the warrior women who go through this process.”

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