seasonal allergies and fertility

Q&A: “Do Seasonal Allergy Pills Like Claritin Affect Egg Quality?”

Should I stop taking allergy meds when TTC or doing fertility treatments?

The Quick Take

There isn't a lot of good data out there about the impacts of over-the-counter allergy medications on egg quality, yield, or IVF outcomes. But since these medications are deemed safe during pregnancy, they are likely safe for fertility.

But remember, the best practice in assessing whether you should start or stop taking any medication is to always ask your doctor! 

The Long Take

We get allergies when our body has an inflammatory response to some agent (i.e. an allergen). This is an interesting question because "inflammation" is a hugely hot topic in the world of fertility. Inflammation is how our immune system talks to the body — it's not necessarily a bad thing in all cases. However, when does "normal" inflammation turn harmful? How does inflammation affect our fertility?

There have been years of debate about the role of antihistamines in fertility treatment. Standard practice around fresh embryo transfer used to involve steroid and/or antihistamine treatment, which even expanded into frozen embryo transfer clinical practice within the last decade. Recent literature is changing protocols as more studies are finding that steroid treatment does not improve outcomes like embryo implantation or live birth rates. Accordingly, many IVF centers are abandoning the use of medicines like Benadryl or prednisone as part of treatment (1, 2).

Given this movement away from anti-inflammatory medications during IVF itself, how do over-the-counter antihistamines (typically used for allergy treatment), fit into this clinical picture? IVF centers differ in what over-the-counter medicines they deem "safe" during treatment; for example, some clinics allow the use of Sudafed but others strongly recommend avoiding it during IVF stimulation.

The truth is that there isn't a lot of good data out there about these medications on egg quality, yield, or IVF outcomes. For the most part, medications that are "OK" during stimulation are also deemed safe during pregnancy, and there has been more research into the effect of these medications on pregnancy outcomes. The general consensus is antihistamine medications do not increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, miscarriage, or birth defects in pregnancy, and thus are considered safe to use (1, 2, 3).

But again, it's important to talk to your doctor on this one!

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