Q. Is it dangerous to take over-the-counter drugs, such as allergy or cold medications, when you’re trying to conceive?
A. The answer is no, they’re fine. There’s just one exception, and that would be anything containing ibuprofen (brand names include Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) or other meds similar to ibuprofen, which are part of the NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) family. These include naproxen (brand names include Aleve, Naprosyn) and COX-2 inhibitors (brand names include Bextra, Celebrex). If a woman consistently takes ibuprofen around the time of ovulation (an occasional dose probably wouldn’t be a problem), the drug has a negative effect on prostaglandins, which are necessary for ovulation. In my practice we actually discovered this many years ago when we were working with a young egg donor. She developed 30 follicles, but we weren’t able to recover a single egg. When we inquired, we found out that she’d been taking two Advil tablets every four to six hours. Soon afterwards there were published reports advising physicians to tell women who were taking ovulation stimulation medication not to take ibuprofen at all, and women trying to get pregnant naturally to avoid ibuprofen around the time of ovulation. Just to be safe, I’d probably advise against taking the other NSAIDs and aspirin, too, for the same reason. But otherwise most over-the-counter drugs are safe to take while you’re trying to get pregnant. Once you are pregnant, ask your obstetrician what’s safe.