LHRH Agonists

August 31, 2015
Reviewed By: 

The luteinizing hormoneinfo-icon-releasing hormone agonists, or LHRH agonists, are a type of ovarian suppressioninfo-icon offered to pre- and perimenopausalinfo-icon women with breast cancer. These medicines are believed to protect fertilityinfo-icon during chemotherapyinfo-icon by preserving the ovaries, but the full benefit is still unknown. 

Ask your doctors to be specific about what kind of ovarian suppression they recommend. Some doctors may use “ovarian suppression” and “ovarian ablationinfo-icon” to mean the same thing. But ovarian ablation can also mean surgery  to permanently remove your ovaries.

Medicines in this class are:

  • Goserelininfo-icon (Zoladex)
  • Leuprolide (Lupron)
  • Triptorelin (Trelstar)


How LHRH Agonists Work

LHRH agonists reduce the amount of estrogeninfo-icon your body by temporarily shutting down the ovaries, the organs that make estrogen. When the ovaries stop making as much estrogen, breast cancer cells that are hormone receptorinfo-icon-positive can’t continue to grow.

Who Gets LHRH Agonists

Women with hormone receptorinfo-icon-positive breast cancer who are pre- or perimenopausalinfo-icon may be given leuprolide or goserelininfo-icon (Zoladex) along with tamoxifeninfo-icon. Your doctor may also recommend triptorelin along with tamoxifen, though triptorelin is used less often. Once your ovaries are fully suppressed, your doctor might switch you from tamoxifen to an aromatase inhibitorinfo-icon.

How LHRH Agonists Are Given

  • Goserelininfo-icon is given by injectioninfo-icon once a month or once every 3 months
  • Leuprolide is given by injection once a month or once every 3 months
  • Triptorelin is given by injection once a month

Side Effects and Things to Remember

The LHRH agonists may cause a variety of side effects. Remember to talk to your healthcare team about any side effects you may experience, including:

After you finish taking an LHRH agonist, your ovaries should start working again, but it may take some time.

Your doctor, pharmacistinfo-icon or nurseinfo-icon can help you manage your side effects. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.

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