Is it safe to use antihistamines while you're trying to conceive?
We've seen lots of questions asking which hayfever remedies are OK to take while trying for a baby. The answer's still not really clear - but here's what we DO know
In a nutshell
The honest answer is: nobody's really sure. However, we reckon they're unlikely to cause harm, and there's no evidence to suggest they would, so far.
That said, it's recommended you follow the current advice given to pregnant women, if you prefer to err on the side of caution.
You should also have a little chat with your GP before buying hayfever medicines over the counter.
Why would antihistamines affect fertility?
The main concern among TTC women is that antihistamines are thought to 'dry up' cervical mucus, also known as CM.
CM is produced by glands in the cervix. Its job is to 'filter' and 'prepare' sperm at the entrance of the womb, as it travels through the uterus, and heads towards the fallopian tubes for fertilisation to take place.
Whether or not these medicines do actually dry up the mucus is a hot topic on forums across the web - including MadeForMums' very own.
But the NHS website states pretty clearly that there's no evidence to suggest that 2 of the most common antihistamines, cetirizine and loratadine (Clarityn) affect fertility at all.
That said, there aren't really any studies specifically looking at whether or not antihistamines are OK to use while you're trying for a baby.
What else do the experts say?
Dr Philippa Kaye told us that, generally speaking, women trying to conceive are often advised to follow the guidance set out for expectant women.
"When it comes to discussing trying to conceive, one has to remember that there is a period of time after conception before you know you are pregnant - i.e. before the positive pregnancy test," she says.
"So we advise women trying to conceive to follow the guidance as if they are pregnant. For example, with regards to alcohol.
"Currently, manufacturers of antihistamines such as cetirizine will advise avoiding use in pregnancy but there is no evidence of them causing harm in pregnancy.
GP Philippa previously told us that, during pregnancy, the first treatment for hayfever is with a steroid nasal spray as opposed to an oral antihistamine.
Your doc may recommend:
- corticosteroid nasal spray – such as Flixonase, Beconase or Nasonex
- antihistamine nasal spray – also known as Rhinolast
- antihistamine eye drops – such as Otrivine or Optilast.
What kind of treatment you get for hayfever symptoms will really depend on your GP, though, so make sure to tell 'em everything when you go in to discuss your symptoms.
If you're really suffering with all the classic, irritating hayfever symptoms, there are some natural remedies you can try, including:
- showering before bed to remove any pollen
- using nose barrier balm or Vaseline under the nose (to stop pollen getting in)
- avoiding grassy areas or places with lots of trees
- investing in some wraparound sunglasses.
Finally, there's no suggestion as yet that taking antihistamines will affect fertility treatments, such as IVF.
"There are no clear studies available showing the effects of both histamine and antihistamines in fertility treatment either, however from what is known it is unlikely to cause harm," Dr Kaye explains.
Have your say
Have you been concerned about taking hayfever medicine while trying to conceive - or undergoing fertility treatments?
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