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Most individuals can’t really afford to let a cold, the flu, illness, or infection sideline them for any length of time. It’s commonplace, therefore, to pop a decongestant or cough suppressant, pain-reliever or whatever over-the-counter medication you need and keep going. But all of that changes when you’re trying to conceive. Especially if you’re undergoing fertility treatment.

When you’re going through IVF treatment for infertility, scrutinizing every action you take becomes the norm. Should you have that cheeseburger and fries for lunch or would a fresh veggie salad be the better option? Meet your friends for a drink after work? Maybe not. And on it goes but you’re only too happy to oblige and take the healthier approach if it means you’ll soon be cradling your baby in your arms.

With cold and flu season already upon us you may question whether or not taking OTC medication is a good idea. Should you suffer through cold symptoms, fever, headache and nausea or run to your nearest pharmacy for relief? Just like when you’re pregnant, it’s prudent to avoid some medications when you’re in the midst of IVF. However, that’s not to say you should simply suffer it out. Here we break down what you can take and what OTC medications you should avoid during IVF.


Avoid These Medications

Some medications are safe to take before and even during pregnancy but some OTC medications interfere with conception and lower your odds of getting pregnant. Certain meds lower with the receptivity of your uterus and others may hinder ovulation. Here are some of the popular OTC medications you should avoid while going through IVF.


Pain Medicine

Avoid taking any NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as full strength aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium containing medication such as Motrin, Advil and Aleve, or their generic counterparts.

It’s also important to note that NSAIDs in high doses may interfere with male fertility as well. While the occasional use of NSAID medicine to relieve pain is probably fine, don’t take any NSAIDs regularly while trying to conceive.



Unless you have severe symptoms and your doctor approves, avoid taking any medication containing antihistamines, decongestants or allergy meds such as Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec.


Heartburn, Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea is one of the side effects of fertility medication and an unpleasant one at that! If you experience nausea, heartburn or vomiting try eating small, more frequent meals and sipping ginger ale. Also foods like saltine crackers, ginger snaps and hard candies like peppermint, lemon drops and ginger candies help. Calcium carbonate OTC heartburn medications (Tums)  are fine but avoid any other OTC antacids unless approved by your doctor. While researchers found no known issues related to OTC proton pump inhibitor, or PPI (like Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec) seek your doctor’s approval before taking them.


Constipation and Diarrhea

If you experience constipation while trying to conceive via IVF try centering your diet on healthy and fiber-full foods such as apples, carrots, broccoli, kale and other greens and whole grains like oatmeal. And drink more water. You may take non-chemical stool softeners such as Solace or Metamucil for relief as well.

For diarrhea its best to keep up your hydration and adhere to the B.R.A.T. diet which consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. If you still find no relief, you may take Kaopectate or Imodium but remember to speak with your doctor first!


These OTC Medications Are Fine with Doctor’s Approval

In addition to the above information, there are many safe OTC medications for you to take while undergoing IVF treatment. And as long as your doctor approves the medication you’re safe to do so. Just take as directed.

  • Pain Relievers: Acetaminophen is fine so you may take medications like Tylenol, regular and extra strength, if needed.
  • Decongestants: While it’s best to avoid certain decongestants during your IVF cycle, you may feel safe using Afrin nasal spray or a saline nasal spray, Sudafed, Benadryl and their generic counterparts (Just compare the ingredients to ensure they’re the same.) and Tylenol Cold.
  • Cough Suppressants: Robitussin DM and Vicks Formula 44 are safe options for cough relief.
  • Hemorrhoids: Tucks, Anusol HC and good old witch hazel provide temporary relief from hemorrhoid flare-ups.
  • Yeast Infection: Monistat and Gynelotrimin OTC provide relief from the discomfort of yeast infections.

What About Supplements?

The FDA doesn’t regulate a lot of herbal supplements and most vitamins. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to take these while trying to conceive. It’s particularly dangerous to regularly take herbal supplements that trigger a hormonal response at this time. Examples of those herbal supplements you should avoid:

  • Black Cohosh
  • Feverfew
  • Goldenseal
  • John’s Wort
  • Garlic (In supplement form. It’s OK in food!)

Taking too many, or taking the wrong supplements is never a good idea. If you’re concerned about vitamins and minerals we recommend supplements expressly formulated for those couples undergoing fertility treatment.


A Big Caution

It goes without saying, avoid any and all illicit drugs, especially marijuana, while going through IVF. If you regularly smoke or ingest marijuana please let your physician know. A 2014 study in England confirmed marijuana usage leads to changes in sperm shape and size.

Women who regularly enjoy marijuana experience interruptions in ovulation and egg maturity, according to a study published by the NIH in 2019.


We’re Here to Help

Thinking about IVF? Find out the safest and most successful way to overcome your infertility. Contact LA IVF today and together we’ll help you realize your dream of growing your family.

TEL: 310-286-2800 | FAX: 310-691-1116