List Of Drugs That Cause Infertility In Females?

About 10% of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infertility is a disease in which the ability to get pregnant and give birth to a child is impaired or limited in some way. For heterosexual couples (man and woman), this is usually diagnosed after one year of trying to get pregnant (but maybe diagnosed sooner depending on other factors). For heterosexual couples, one-third of the causes of infertility are due to a male problem, one-third are due to female problems, and one-third are due to combination or unknown reasons. When the cause of the infertility is found to come from the female partner, it’s considered female infertility or “female factor” infertility.

List of drugs that cause infertility in females

Several conditions can cause female infertility. Female infertility can result from age, physical problems, hormone problems, and lifestyle or environmental factors.

Most cases of infertility in women result from problems with producing eggs. In primary ovarian insufficiency, the ovaries stop functioning before natural menopause. In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the ovaries may not release an egg regularly or they may not release a healthy egg.

In this article, we will focus on the drugs that can make a woman become infertile. The following drugs can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant:

NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Studies have shown that NSAIDs like Motrin or Advil can inhibit ovulation and reduce progesterone levels in young women, which could seriously undermine fertility.

Antidepressants: Psychiatric medications such as anti-depressants and some anti-psychotics can interfere with the hormonal regulation of ovulation and may also elevate associated hormone levels such as prolactin. A recent study showed that women who were taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) took significantly longer to conceive. SSRI use because of depressive symptoms has been reported in up to 11% of subfertile women undergoing fertility treatment. SSRIs approved to treat depression include;

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

Steroids: Steroids are a man-made version of chemicals, known as hormones, that are made naturally in the human body. Steroids are designed to act like these hormones to reduce inflammation. In a woman of reproductive age, steroids may prevent the release of hormones needed for ovulation and menstruation.

Antiepileptic drugs: These are a diverse group of pharmacological agents used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. (phenytoin, carbamazepine, and valproate) medications may impact fertility. A recent study indicates that women taking multiple anti-epilepsy drugs may be particularly at risk. Of women on just one medication, 32 percent failed to conceive during the study period. That figure was 41 percent among women on two epilepsy drugs, and 60 percent among those on three or more drugs.

Antipsychotics: Antipsychotic medications, sometimes referred to as neuroleptics or major tranquilizers, are prescribed to treat schizophrenia and reduce the symptoms. Antipsychotics affect fertility through changes in prolactin level as the typical antipsychotics are regarded as the most common medications related to hyperprolactinaemia. They lead to an acute and persistent increase of prolactin levels and thus affecting hormonal balance.  Medications such as risperidone may increase levels of the hormone prolactin and lead to a lack of ovulation.

Thyroid medications: Medications taken to regulate thyroid function can also affect female fertility especially when the dose is not well-regulated (too high or too low), prolactin levels may be affected.

Cosmetic products: Haircare and skin products, marketed to women of color, sometimes include placental extracts, which are likely to contain natural progesterone and estrogens. Estrogen may be added to some anti-aging creams for their effectiveness in raising collagen count and increasing skin hydration which inadvertently disrupts hormone balance and negatively affect fertility.

There is also growing evidence that pesticides, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and other chemicals act as endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with the body’s carefully regulated hormonal system and they artificially increase the levels of hormones in the body or impede their proper and essential breakdown, disruption in estrogen or progesterone levels may alter ovulation.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body. Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body. However, chemotherapy can stop your ovaries from working. This causes infertility, which can be temporary or permanent. It can also bring on menopause.

Supplements or herbal remedies: Many herbal remedies including breast enlargement products used by women of reproductive age contain phytoestrogens which act like hormones the estrogens. Studies have shown that a decrease in fertility for women using such products is related to the local—direct effect of phytoestrogens on the reproductive tract. Phytoestrogens can inhibit endogenous estrogen production in the ovary leading to disturbances in immune system regulation as well as in follicle development and lack of estrogen.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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