Worst Drugs to Take on Your Conception Journey

You are what you eat. That is, pretty much everything you put in your body will affect it, sometimes for the better while other times for the worst. When you're trying to conceive, you must take extra care to ensure everything that goes into your body doesn't affect your chances of getting pregnant.

This goes for food, and it most definitely goes for drugs as well. Drugs that affect your fertility can be pretty damaging, mostly because they're usually taken in concentrated doses. The thing is, this applies to illegal drugs as well as legal drugs and herbals. If you're taking any of the following when you're trying to conceive, you may be reducing your chances greatly.

Please note that we've also listed their possible effects to your baby. This is because you may not know that you're pregnant until you're a few weeks in. Exposure to any harmful substance during those two weeks may decrease your chances of carrying the pregnancy to term or lead to birth defects.

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15 Cocaine

A common party drug, cocaine may inhibit ovulation by disrupting the hormones that regulate menstruation. In men, it is also linked with a lower sperm count as well as difficulty ejaculating.

Even if you do manage to get pregnant while on cocaine, it still comes with increased risks of spontaneous abortion, premature birth, and birth defects.

14 Valproic Acid

Valproic acid is an anticonvulsant commonly prescribed to persons with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. It is more commonly known by the brand name Depakene. It has been shown to affect the menstrual cycle and increase the risk for polycystic ovary syndrome. In men, it may decrease sperm production and overall fertility.

However, the risks are greater when the child is conceived. Children born to mothers taking valproic acid have a 10% greater risk of congenital malformation, including neural tube defects.

If you are epileptic and are taking valproic acid, consult with your doctor. They may be able to prescribe a folic acid supplement and multivitamins that can increase your chances of fertility, as well as decrease the chances of birth defects in your child.

13 Wormwood

Wormwood is an herbal medication used orally to treat gastrointestinal problems and as a topical pain reliever. It has been found to decrease overall fertility in rats, although human trials are obviously not possible.

Even herbalists avoid prescribing it to pregnant women as it used to be an ingredient in traditional herbal birth control concoctions. If you've been taking wormwood for gastrointestinal problems, you may want to look for a safer alternative.

12 Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh is another herbal medicine traditionally used to treat muscle spasms, constipation, and colic. It has been used to relieve menstrual cramps and control period bleeding.

If you use this herb for any of the above, you may want to stop taking it if you're trying to conceive. The herb has been shown to stimulate uterine contractions. This may cut blood flow to your uterine lining, making it difficult for the fertilized egg to attach itself. In addition, taking blue cohosh during pregnancy has been shown to cause cardiovascular abnormalities.


Some Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Inhibitors or NSAIDs such as diclofenac or naproxen, which are commonly used as pain relievers, may reduce your chances of conceiving. These drugs have been found in one study to decrease ovulation. The good news is that after you stop taking it, ovulation rates pretty much go back to their normal levels.

If you need pain relief during pregnancy, paracetamol is probably your safest option. However, it must only be used as directed and when absolutely needed.

10 Opiates

Opiates span a wide range of drugs that include morphine, codeine, and the weaker tramadol. These drugs are used to treat severe pain, but can also be highly addictive. Whether you are taking them under the care of a physician or not, it is best to get off opiates when you are trying to become pregnant. If you are addicted, seek help through methadone treatment.

Opiate use may cause alterations in the function of your reproductive glands, causing hormonal imbalances that may reduce fertility. In particular, opiates have been found to reduce the quality of semen and overall sex drive in men.

9 Pennyroyal

Pennyroyal is another herbal plant that's a bit of a no-brainer here since it has historically been used to induce abortion. That's not to mention the fact that it is known to be toxic to the liver, kidneys and nerves.

It is sometimes used in tea preparations, usually to relieve abdominal cramps and flatulence. Whether you're trying to get pregnant or not, it's probably a really bad idea to take this herb.

8 Chemotherapy

If you have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy, it's probably best to wait until you've completed your treatment and have your cancer in remission before trying to have a baby. This is because chemotherapy actively targets rapidly dividing cells in your body. This includes cancer cells, of course, but it also hits healthy cells such as those in your hair follicles and mucosa causing the classic symptoms of hair loss and mouth sores.

It's not a huge leap to guess that it's going to target a group of cells that divide rapidly over the course of nine months.

7 Neem

Neem is a popular herb used for a variety of illnesses, including hyperacidity, ulcers, dental plaque and diabetes. It can even be found in some herbal tea preparations.

You might want to stop using it when you're trying to conceive, however, as it may decrease your chances of ovulation. This shouldn't come as a surprise, though. Although it's not widely advertised as such, neem is used in some cultures as a contraceptive.

6 ACE Inhibitors

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors or ACE Inhibitors are drugs commonly used to manage hypertension. You must remember, however, that if you're hypertensive, it's a great idea to keep your blood pressure in check as high blood pressure will increase risks for complication during pregnancy.

But you may want to discuss with your doctor your use of ACE Inhibitors and other antihypertensive drugs and go through some research to determine which treatment is best for you. You might want to try safer antihypertensive medications such as beta blockers.

5 Amphetamines

This includes methamphetamine, a common recreational drug. Research on its effects on female fertility is inconclusive, although it is associated with fetal abnormalities. However, it does have a drastic effect on male fertility, as it has been found to damage the cells that produce sperm in the testes.

4 Thalidomide

Thalidomide is an immunomodulatory drug used to treat certain cancers such as multiple myeloma as well as skin conditions including leprosy. There is plenty of documentation on the increased risk of birth defects in women who took thalidomide during their pregnancy.

However, studies show that it may also inhibit ovulation and cut off uterine blood supply. If you have to take thalidomide, it's probably best to wait until your therapy has finished its course before trying to get pregnant.

3 Steroids

There is a big group of compounds called steroids, which includes sex hormones, corticosteroids, and anabolic steroids. Some steroids are used to treat autoimmune conditions such as asthma, lupus, and arthritis. They're also pretty much known as substances that are abused by athletes to boost muscle buildup and performance.

Because some steroids mimic the functions of the sex hormones, they can negatively impact the menstrual cycle and ovulation. However, it's not a great idea to stop taking them abruptly, particularly if you're taking them for an autoimmune condition. It's likely that your symptoms will flare up drastically if you do. Instead, see your doctor and talk about your fertility concerns. Your doctor may then slowly titrate your dose of the steroid downward so you can get off it safely.

2 Alcohol

Here's the thing: alcohol isn’t totally bad for your fertility if it's consumed in small amounts. Having a drink or two every evening is probably too much. Every other day is probably fine. Studies have found that heavy consumption can decrease your fertility by as much as 60%.

If you do get pregnant, you'll want to cut it out altogether. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can increase your child's risk of getting birth defects and substantially increases the chance of miscarriage.

1 Tobacco

There's no way around it: smoking is terrible for your health, for your fertility, and for your future child's health. Tobacco is a notorious vasoconstrictor, which can affect the blood flow to your uterus. This means that the fertilized egg may have trouble implanting. It is also known to negatively impact ovulation, although the mechanisms are still unknown. If you don’t smoke cigarettes but are vaping nicotine, the effects are the same. It is the nicotine in cigarettes that acts as a vasoconstrictor.

It also damages the sperm, making them far less likely to fertilize the egg. So, whether you or your partner smoke, your journey to conception is probably a great time to stop.

Whether you are taking prescription medication or are using illegal drugs when you want to conceive, talk to your doctor about alternatives that will be more conducive to you becoming pregnant and having a healthy baby.

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