Media reports that pregnant women who take painkillers could harm the fertility of their babies

We take a look behind the headlines about paracetamol and ibuprofen use in pregnancy.

Pregnancy and painkillers

Pregnancy blog by Tommy's midwife Sophie, 16/04/2018

“Pregnant women who take painkillers may be harming the fertility of their unborn sons as well as daughters, researchers have warned,” reports the Mail Online.

Medical research is being updated all of the time, and with new pregnancy studies in the news every week it can be hard to know which sources to trust. Not to mention all of the dos and don’ts.

Today, we’re going behind the headline of the Mail Online’s article about the use of painkillers in pregnancy that links the potential risks of paracetamol and ibuprofen use with reduced fertility for the unborn baby later in life.

We recognise that many women need to take paracetamol during pregnancy to relieve a wide range of symptoms and understand that the types of medication deemed safe to take during pregnancy is quite limited.

We would always recommend taking advice from your obstetric doctor, midwife or medical professional when deciding what medication to take during pregnancy. If their advice is to take certain medication, the risk of not taking it could be greater.

For example, taking paracetamol for a fever is vitally important, as fever itself has far more ill-effects to both mother and baby than taking paracetamol for a short period of time.

We know that research is changing the medical world all the time, but we only publish the latest studies from reputable sources such as NHS England, RCOG, the RCM, and Tommy's research centres. This way, you can be sure that you are reading trusted research that is based on real statistics.

So, don’t deny yourself pain relief if you have been advised to take it by your healthcare team, and listen to advice that is based on your individual circumstances.

Pregnancy advice you can trust

Always ask your midwife or GP to get their advice on medication first, or anything else you're worried about. Together you can make an informed decision about what is right for you based on your medical history and pregnancy notes.

For the latest pregnancy research and information you can trust, visit Tommy's safer pregnancy information, NHS Choices, the Royal College of Gynaecology (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

Find out how we produce our information.

More on drugs and medicines in pregnancy

More pregnancy news and blogs

  • Baby


    What is a tongue-tie?

    Samantha Tanak, midwife and tongue-tie division practitioner talks to us about baby tongue-tie. Samantha is passionate about supporting women in the postnatal period, which is often neglected and less planned for than the other stages of having a baby.

  • Nseko and her twins


    My tandem feeding story

    Although my twins haven’t always been exclusively breastfed, I have loved our breastfeeding journey. In all honestly, it's been more fun than I thought it would be and an amazing experience in terms of bonding with my babies.

  • Image of woman's feet walking through a park, pushing a pram


    Survey results show mums are struggling to connect

    86% of pregnant women and new mums have been feeling a lack of social interaction during COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Pregnant woman smoking


    NHS statistics show slight decrease in smoking during pregnancy

    Recent NHS Digital statistics show that 10.4% of women in England smoke at the time of delivering their baby, which is slightly less than last year.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No


    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

    Your comment

    Add new comment