Could My Medication Affect My Fertility?

What medications can affect my fertility?
profile picture of Laurence A. Jacobs, MD, reproductive endocrinologist, Fertility Centers of Illinois
ByLaurence A. Jacobs, MD, reproductive endocrinologist, Fertility Centers of Illinois
Fertility Specialist
Mar 2017
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Any time you visit your doctor — especially if you’re seeing your gynecologist, OB or a fertility expert — you can expect to be asked what type of medications, if any, you’re currently taking. That’s because virtually every type of prescription medication is classified according to its potential pregnancy and fertility risks. Category B drugs (things like acetaminophen) are generally thought to be safe in pregnancy. Category C meds carry a higher risk (“risk cannot be ruled out”), meaning there aren’t a lot of good studies on pregnant women with this medication, but usually the potential benefits may outweigh the potential risks. Category D drugs mean studies in humans or investigational data have demonstrated a risk to the fetus. And Category X drugs are just plain no-gos, with studies showing they can specifically cause harm.

Although these classifications relate specifically to pregnancy, certain medications can also have a direct effect on your ability to get pregnant. For example, some antianxiety or antidepression medications can impact the same brain chemicals that control ovulation. If your partner is taking antihypertensive medications to control high blood pressure, he may have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection, which would obviously make it challenging for you to get pregnant. And if he’s taking steroids or other androgen products (with or without your knowledge), his testosterone levels can ironically plummet, wiping out sperm production. Other steroids, like cortisone and prednisone (used to treat conditions like asthma or lupus), can also cause your ovaries to stop ovulating. You owe it to yourself to make sure you tell your doctor everything about what medications you are taking, even a vitamin or supplement.


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