Can my medication affect my ability to conceive?

Some medications can impact your ability to conceive – but don’t panic. Simply speak to your doc if you're trying to get pregnant and are on medication that could affect your fertility...

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Yep, it’s true that some medications can affect your ability to conceive. However, it’s not something you should worry yourself about.

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If you’re trying to conceive and you’re on medication, it’s a good idea to have a chat with your GP. Honestly, it’s a good idea to meet with your doc when you’re trying to conceive anyway, to make sure you’re in the best nick possible.

Whatever you do, don’t stop taking your medication or revise your medication without having a thorough chat with your GP first.

Don’t stop medication WITHOUT your doc’s approval

MFM’s resident GP Dr Philippa Kaye really wants us to drive this home.

“The first and most important thing is not to stop taking any medication without talking to your doctor,” she says. “Medication is prescribed for a reason and stopping it suddenly can be dangerous.”

Which medicines can affect your ability to conceive?

You may find that a number of drugs affect being able to conceive, or are not recommended to take as they’re not considered safe during pregnancy. (There will likely be a time when you are pregnant but have not yet found out, so this is a precaution.)

Here are some medications that may be affected – and are worth chatting to your GP about ASAP:

Anti-epileptic medication

Some anti-epileptic medication can affect your ovulation, but as Dr Philippa explains, some are also not recommended in pregnancy, either.

“In an ideal situation, you would discuss with your specialist that you are trying to conceive and they would switch you onto a safer anti-epileptic medication while still trying to keep you seizure-free,” she says.

“Please do not stop the meds – due to the risk of you having a seizure. Instead, see your neurologist who will help you decide the best course of action.”

Anti-depressants

“Another common concern for women is antidepressants,” says Dr Philippa. “However, most antidepressants are safe during pregnancy.

“Fluoxetine is safe in pregnancy and sertraline is safe in both pregnancy and breastfeeding. As such your doctor may try to change your medication to one of these options if it is safe to do so.”

Anti-depressants can also affect your sex drive, which is obviously rather useful when you’re trying for a baby. If you’re experiencing that side effect, speak to your GP first and foremost.

Some antibiotics

“Particular antibiotics are not safe in pregnancy, particularly tetracyclines which are used in the treatment of acne, and your doctor is likely to advise you stop these.

“Hopefully, when you do get pregnant, the pregnancy hormones will also help your skin!”

Thyroid medication

“Other medication may need to increase or change dose in pregnancy, for example if you have hypothryoidism and take thyroxine (thryoid replacement hormone) your thryoxine requirements will increase in pregnancy and you will be prescribed more,” says Dr Philippa.

Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)

And Dr Philippa also says you should re-think reaching for anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen when you’re trying to conceive.

The NHS recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant do not take ibuprofen.

“Some over-the-counter treatments are not recommended in pregnancy,” says Dr Philippa. “For example, ibuprofen is not used in pregnancy but paracetamol is safe.”

If you’re buying anti-inflammatories over the counter, please tell your pharmacist you’re TTC or possibly pregnant, so they can advise you what to take.

Steroids

Any medication that messes with your period may affect your chances of conceiving.

Steroids in large doses, prescribed for a number of reasons, can affect your periods. Again, don’t stop taking them. Just speak to your doctor.

Chemotherapy

If you are having chemotherapy treatment, this may well affect your period, too. Speak to your specialist about your own personal circumstances. 

Contraceptive drugs

Obviously, taking any type of contraceptive like the Pill – or having recently stopped taking it – affects your period and your ability to get pregnant.

We’ve got a full guide to contraceptives, which are least and most effective – though we should add that it will vary from woman to woman how long it takes before periods return following the use of a contraceptive.

Of course, every woman is different, and you may return to having periods/get pregnant immediately after using one type of contraceptive, or it may take a bit longer.

Images: Getty Images

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