Over-the-counter medications (OTC’s) are safe, right? Well, in our recent radio show with Dr. Kathleen Tucker, we learned that there are some OTC’s that negatively affect male fertility.

What are the common over-the-counter medicines men should know about regarding fertility impact?

We know that people are taking more medicines than ever before. People are waiting longer to begin building their families, and that often results in taking more medications to do so. Additionally, more people are experiencing chronic health issues at earlier ages. In fact, 80% of men aged 45 and older are taking some kind of medication. Of those men, 26% of them are becoming parents for the first time.

So, what is safe for a man when he’s trying to conceive with his partner? What OTC’s affect male fertility?

5 Common OTC’s That Affect Male Fertility

1.  Acetaminophen

Men who are trying to conceive naturally, participating with fertility treatment, or who have a diminished sperm count should be careful using acetaminophen. According to Dr. Tucker, acetaminophen can affect sperm formation, motility, and the length of time to achieve pregnancy.

If your man has a healthy sperm count, it’s not likely to be an issue. However, if male-factor infertility is at play here and your guy has a headache, hand him the ibuprofen.

The most common brand name for acetaminophen is, of course, Tylenol®. However, it is crucial to know that acetaminophen often appears in remedies that are intended to treat several symptoms with one medication (cough and cold medicines, sinus medications). Read the labels carefully when seeking relief from multi-symptom ailments.

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2.  Aspirin

Dr. Tucker cited one study that indicated a slight reduction in testosterone production for men who use aspirin regularly. If your partner is facing male-factor infertility issues, it’s wise to look for a substitute for his aspirin, or as Dr. Tucker said, “have a headache.”

If you are taking daily low-dose aspirin for heart health and you are concerned that it might affect your testosterone levels while you are going through infertility treatment, talk with your reproductive endocrinologist or with the physician who recommended the daily dose.

3.  Tagamet®

There’s been evidence over the years that Tagamet® contributes to erectile dysfunction. Obviously, that is problematic for a man who is trying to conceive a child. Additionally, Tagamet® has shown to have the following impact on a man’s fertility:

  • Decrease in sperm quantity
  • Decline in sperm quality
  • Lowered sperm viability
  • Decrease in testosterone production
  • Increase in DNA damage in sperm

If you (or your male partner) is taking Tagamet®, Dr. Tucker strongly recommends seeking another medication for the relief of acid or reflux. Speak with your doctor about suitable substitutions for your specific symptoms and care.

Man holding head in hand
…if male-factor infertility is at play here and your guy has a headache, hand him the ibuprofen.

4.  Benadryl®

Benadryl® is classified as a first-generation antihistamine, and its main side effect is drowsiness. Extreme drowsiness when trying to conceive can be problematic – from both partners’ perspectives! Additionally, studies of Benadryl® have revealed a slight impact on the viability of sperm. However, if you have no male-factor infertility issues and are otherwise healthy, occasional use for allergy symptoms should not be troublesome for your fertility.

5.  Zyrtec®

Of the second-generation (generally known as the non-drowsy) antihistamines, Zyrtec® is the most likely to harm male fertility. Dr. Tucker summarized a few studies that revealed Zyrtec® to have a possible unhealthy effect on the formation and nurture of sperm.

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Consult Your Doctors

When you and your male partner are embarking on your journey to build a family, be it through trying to conceive naturally or starting fertility treatments, you deserve the best shot at success.

These medications are generally considered safe enough to be over-the-counter, but if you suspect male-factor fertility issues or your guy has had prolonged use of any of these OTC’s, it’s wise to consult your primary physician or reproductive endocrinologist for a complete review of his health history and alternate treatment options.

Image Credit: .sanden.