Antihistamines and Your Fertility

Do Antihistamines Affect Fertility Treatment and Your Ability to Become Pregnant?

Allergy season will quickly be upon us, and those with severe reactions often rely on the use of antihistamines for much-needed relief. Understandably, those undergoing fertility treatment or trying to conceive naturally need to know how these medications will affect their ability to achieve a healthy pregnancy. Furthermore, seasonal allergies are one of the most common ailments in couples undergoing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

However, many women are unclear regarding whether or not they can use antihistamines during fertility treatment or when trying to conceive through natural means. Many medications come with well-known side effects, but some are harder to find accurate information for. With the widespread use of antihistamines throughout the United States and the critical importance of undergoing IVF or other forms of fertility treatment, couples need answers.

To further complicate matters, many experts disagree when it comes to the question of antihistamine use during IVF or when trying to conceive. This is a hotly-debated issue, especially in the age of the internet. Some fertility forums discuss the individual use of antihistamines to improve pregnancy rates during IVF when patients have a history of recurrent pregnancy loss. Other digital sources strictly warn against using anti-histamines when trying to become pregnant. These often quote a potential risk of vasoconstriction or reducing blood flow to the ovaries and uterus, just as it acts in the nasal passages. With so much conflicting information out there, what’s a woman to do when trying to plan a family?

Clinical Studies of Antihistamine Effects on Fertility

Perhaps the biggest reason for the absence of concrete information and conflicting reports spread across the internet is the lack of confirmed data on the subject. At present, there are no well-designed clinical studies that have evaluated the effect of antihistamine use on fertility. However, research has shown that there are histamine receptors in the uterus and that human embryos secrete histamine. Interestingly enough, the interaction of histamine from the embryo helps the embryo implant into the endometrium of the uterus. However, there is one notable study showing that antihistamines decrease blood flow to the uterus. So while the majority of research suggests that antihistamines may interfere with reproduction, we don’t have a clear answer.

How should we approach Antihistamine Use when undergoing IVF Treatment?

As previously mentioned, there are currently no well-designed clinical studies that reveal the effects of antihistamine use on female fertility. Furthermore, there is no hard evidence that antihistamines affect the effectiveness of In Vitro Fertilization treatment. While we hope for further insight into this issue in the future, we can only do the best with what we know now.

We do know that histamine is a naturally occurring molecule that may aid in implantation during IVF treatment. Moreover, we know that we may not want to hinder histamine production in the body when attempting to achieve pregnancy. Therefore, while limiting use of antihistamines when possible is reasonable, there is no evidence that this make a difference on your fertility or IVF outcomes. While allergy season rapidly approaches, make your best judgement regarding antihistamine use. If you can limit the use of medication in response to your seasonal allergies, this may be preferable to using antihistamines as your default response to this common ailment.

Do you need advice regarding the use medication when trying to conceive? If you would like a fertility consultation, please contact the expert staff at Lane Fertility Institute today.

References:

  1. Histamine enhances cytotrophoblast invasion by inducing intracellular calcium transients through the histamine type-1 receptor, Liu et al, Mol Reprod Dev 2004 Jul;68(3)345-53.
  2. Identification of a histamine-releasing factor secreted by human pre-implantation embryos grown in vitro. Cocchiara et al, Journal of Reprod Immunology 1988 Jun;13(1):41-52
  3. Effect of mepyramine, a histamineH1 and burimamide, a histamine H2 receptor antagonist, on ovum implantation in the rat. Brandon et al, J. Reprod. Fertil. 1977 July;50(2)251-4.
  4. Implantation and deciduation process after the action of the antihistamine preparation diaprizin in early rat embryogenesis. Ontogenez 1981; 12(6) 596-604.

This is an updated article based on “Antihistamines - are these a Bad Cocktail?” by Jennifer Agard, M.D. in the Spring 2015 edition of Lane Fertility Magazine.

Author
Dr. Danielle Lane Danielle E Lane, MD, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist

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