Is it safe to take medication while trying to conceive?

Woman taking medication
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If you're trying to conceive, it may be safer to continue taking your medications than to stop. The most important thing to remember is that you need to talk with your doctor before changing anything about your prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements, that you take.

The goal when you're trying to become pregnant is to stop taking unnecessary medications and avoid certain medicines that can increase the risk for birth defects, pregnancy loss, prematurity, infant death, or developmental disabilities. However, that does not mean stopping all medication. Many medical conditions require continued treatment during pregnancy, and you can work with your doctor to find safe and effective medications while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

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Learn if you'll have to avoid any medication specifically, and whether you'll need to replace anything you're currently taking. 

Medications to avoid while TTC

When you're trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about any medications that you should avoid. There are a few medications you should definitely avoid because they can interfere with normal fetal development, cause birth defects, or increase miscarriage risk: 

  • Isotretinoin, better known as Accutane, used to treat acne 
  • Methotrexate, used as chemotherapy and for some types of arthritis
  • Tetracycline, used for acne or infections
  • Valproic acid to treat epilepsy
  • ACE inhibitors, typically used to treat hypertension

Make sure you talk with your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.

Many over-the-counter medications, such as certain allergy medicines and Tylenol (acetaminophen), are safe while trying to conceive (and if you become pregnant). However, always read the labels and talk to your doctor before taking any medications. Some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Motrin, Aleve, or any drug containing ibuprofen, aren't recommended during pregnancy. 

Will I have to replace my medication with a pregnancy-safe option while trying to conceive?

It all depends on your individual situation. The best advice is to check with your obstetrician and prescribing physician, if different, before stopping or changing any medication.

Many medications have safer alternatives for pregnant women. For example, if you need an anticoagulant for a deep vein thrombosis, heparin is safe – and Coumadin (warfarin) is dangerous because it crosses the placenta. However, there are some high-risk conditions for which Coumadin is still recommended. Or if you need an anticonvulsant for epilepsy, Keppra and dilantin are believed to be safer than valproic acid.

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If you get pregnant unexpectedly, call your doctor as quickly as possible to discuss what you're taking and if any changes are recommended. Don't stop any prescription medication without consulting your provider.

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BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies.

CDC. 2020. Pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. a new window [Accessed July 18, 2022]

CDC. 2021. Planning for pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. a new window [Accessed July 18, 2022]

Cleveland Clinic. 2018. Medicine guidelines during pregnancy. a new window [Accessed July 18, 2022]

Kohl SchwArtz AS et al. 2020. Short-term application of ibuprofen before ovulation. Facts Views and Vision in ObGyn. a new window [Accessed July 18, 2022]

Leverrier-Penna S et al. 2018. Ibuprofen is deleterious for the development of first trimester human fetal ovary ex vivo. Human Reproduction. a new window [Accessed July 18, 2022]

Elizabeth Dougherty

Elizabeth Dougherty is a veteran parenting writer and editor who's been contributing to BabyCenter since 2015. She's an intrepid traveler, devoted yogi, and longtime resident of Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and son.