Your fertility may drop if you’re taking certain medicines, so there are facts about medications that you need to know when you’re trying to conceive
Your menstrual cycle is tightly controlled by the interaction between the brain, ovaries, and uterus. Any health problem or medication that disrupts this communication could adversely affect ovulation and make it challenging to achieve a pregnancy.
Ironically, some medications are necessary to treat infertility and certain other conditions, leaving you to grapple with both the possible inability to conceive and the difficulty that can accompany it. Women with infertility issues have equivalent levels of anxiety and depression to those with cancer, HIV, or a heart disease. But less familiar is the fact that certain over-the-counter and prescription medications may also affect fertility.
Therefore, close consultation with your doctor is paramount when it comes to the medications you take and your fertility. In some cases, there may be alternatives that are just as effective as prescriptions and OTC medications.
There are three main ways medication can interfere with fertility, and two of them pertain directly to women. Medicines can alter ovulation and endometrial or uterine receptivity to a pregnancy. Medicines can also cause changes in sperm production for men.
A medication may affect your ability to ovulate or affect your man’s sperm count by affecting the production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinising hormone (LH) by the pituitary gland.
Once a medication is stopped, it takes some time for the body to recover, though the exact span varies from drug to drug. Most medications are out of the system within days, but some can interfere with normal egg production for months. It may also take your body a month or two to get back to its optimal fertility after stopping some forms of birth control.
Clear answers regarding fertility and medicines aren’t always apparent. Most over-the-counter remedies don’t interfere with fertility, but it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first.
Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines can affect fertility, depending on what you’re taking. If you need to take prescription drugs regularly for one reason or another, you should seek expert advice when you want to try for a baby.
This is crucial because it might be necessary to adjust your dose of the medications or switch you to different drugs altogether. Actually, it’s a good idea to double-check with your doctor before using any over-the-counter or off-the-shelf drugs, or any herbal remedies when you’re trying to get pregnant.
However, even if you suspect that your medication could be affecting your fertility, don’t suddenly stop taking it. Talk to your doctor first. It may be that the benefits of taking your medicine outweigh any possible fertility problems.
This advice is necessary because some medicines can cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them suddenly, so it’s always best to check with your physician first. Even if you do discover that you’re pregnant, don’t stop taking any prescribed medicine until you’ve spoken to the doctor.
If you’re on antidepressants, for instance, you may discover that they make you less interested in sex, which isn’t at all helpful when you’re trying for a baby. If you suspect this is happening, talk to your doctor who may be able to offer a suitable alternative medicine.
Essentially, when you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to avoid skin creams and gels that contain oestrogen or progesterone and other hormonal constituents, even though it’s not likely that you’d absorb enough of them through the skin to affect ovulation, but it’s best to play it safe.
There are so many medications that affect fertility in women. One of the most common is any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent (NSAID). If you’re using prescription anti-inflammatory drugs for conditions such as arthritis or rheumatism, they may temporarily interfere with your ovulation. NSAIDs can interfere with ovulation, particularly the ability of the egg to be released by the ovary.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are much less powerful, but if you’ve been taking them regularly for a long time, or having high doses, they could also affect your fertility.
You should also be wary of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). If you’re taking any AEDs, that contain valproate (valproic acid), they can affect your ovulation. The same argument goes for antipsychotics (neuroleptic medicines) some of which can affect your pituitary gland and stop or disrupt your periods.
Don’t stop using them suddenly but talk to your doctor about lowering your dose or switching to an alternative. Your doctor will work with you to get the balance of this medication right, as too much or too little can reduce your chances of conceiving.
There are some diuretic drugs used to treat swelling (oedema) that can adversely affect your fertility. Chances are high that your fertility should return to normal about two to three months after you stop taking them.
Natural remedies are particularly tricky. There hasn’t been much research into alternative therapies and fertility, but certain herbs could potentially affect your ability to get pregnant. If you’re using any natural remedies, talk to a qualified practitioner or your doctor for more information.
Some medications may not affect your fertility, but can be dangerous for your developing baby if you do conceive. If you’re taking any kind of medication at all – prescription or over-the-counter drugs– discuss with your doctor before trying for a baby.
The bottom line is that if you are currently taking any prescription medications, discuss their impact as it relates to your desire to become pregnant with your health care provider.
Most physicians would prefer that you be on as few medications as possible when trying to conceive or while pregnant. It’s a good idea to sit down with your doctor before you get pregnant to discuss the safety of each one, and to attempt to either switch to safer ones or try non-pharmaceutical approaches.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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