Millions of women reach for Aspirin, Advil or Anaprox when they have aches and pains, including menstrual pain. However, taking these pills on a regular basis may disturb the work of important chemicals responsible for reproduction.
“Do not expect to become pregnant while taking these,” says Dr. Michel A. Fortier, a professor in the faculty of medicine at Laval University in Quebec City.
He has found from many years of research in his lab that a family of chemicals called prostaglandins are crucial for conception. Prostaglandins are hormones of fine tuning in various parts of the body that promote inflammation, pain and fever, support blood clotting and protect the lining of the stomach from acid damage.
They also help control vascular pressure, uterine tone, and bone absorption. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are designed to block the prostaglandins that promote inflammation, fever and pain, but they also block the good prostaglandins women need to conceive, says Dr. Fortier.
This scientific knowledge is so new that even most doctors won’t think of it when a woman suffers from infertility.
“If your pain is not a threat, reduce your use of NSAIDs for sure if you want to be pregnant,” he says.
Taking painkillers for one or two days to control menstrual pain is not likely to affect fertility, but taking them frequently over long periods of time may cause women to ovulate late, too late for her eggs to be fertilized.
Stopping the drugs should reverse the problem, he adds.