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Fertility & Medications

After years of trying to conceive, one of my fertility patients has just discovered that her husband’s medication is known to reduce male fertility. He had been taking Salazopyrin, a commonly used medication for inflammatory bowel disease, which has been shown to reduce male infertility as well as an increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects if the drug is taken in the three months before conception. The good news is that the effect on male fertility is usually reversed within 2-3 months of stopping the medication but still very frustrating for this couple who were unaware of the effects of this drug on his fertility.

This story really highlights the need to check the side effects of all medications if you are trying to conceive.

There are several prescription medications that can affect both male and female fertility, most of them temporarily but sometimes permanently. Arthritis medication, anti-depressants, high blood pressure medication, antibiotics and cancer medications can cause fertility problems. The reflux medication Tagamet is known to cause abnormal sperm production. Antihistamines can dry up fertile mucus and have a damaging effect on sperm while pain relief medications such as ibuprofen and asprin can affect the ability of the embryo to implant into the uterine lining.

It is important to consult your doctor before stopping or changing any of your medications. In many cases, homeopathic treatment can be effective with no side effects.

More information about the side effects of medications can be found by telephoning the Medicines Line in Australia on 1300 888 763.

Fever- friend or foe?

I am often contacted by parents with young children who are anxious about their child’s fever. We’ve all heard the horror stories of fevers causing convulsions and this often creates fear when our children develop a fever. Most parents will try to reduce the fever with a dose of panadol or nurofen. However, a fever is the body’s way of fighting infection and using medication routinely to reduce it can make it harder for the body to do its job. In fact, studies have shown that suppressing a fever through regular use of panadol/nurofen can prolong some viral illnesses. This makes sense because the fever is needed to fight the virus or bacteria.

I recently attended the emergency department at the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and the walls were covered in posters reassuring parents that fevers are not dangerous. One such poster states:

Fevers are not dangerous

A fever is simply the body’s way of fighting infection – whether it is caused by a virus or bacteria. They do not harm the body or brain in any way. The body has a temperature control centre which prevents the temperature from reaching a dangerous level. If your child seems happy and comfortable enough there is no need to treat the fever – in fact, studies have shown that suppressing a fever through regular use of panadol/nurofen can prolong some viral illnesses.

Poster @ Mater Children’s Hospital Emergency Department Oct 2009


This information is not intended to substitute advice or instructions from your doctor or health care professional. It is based on the clinical guideline Feverish illness in children which is available at www.nice.org.uk