Aspirin has been used for more than a century to treat minor aches and pains. Now, recent studies have suggested that aspirin may also help you conceive. But how effective – and safe – is taking aspirin for fertility?
Aspirin is made from the chemical acetylsalicylic acid, which reduces pain and swelling by inhibiting the action of Cox-2 enzymes in your body, which produce prostaglandins, the hormones that cause muscular constriction, fever, and inflammation.
Scientists believe that aspirin may help women who experience recurrent spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) conceive and carry a baby to term. Some of these women have very high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies, which cause blood platelets to stick together and the blood to thicken. This can increase the risk of developing dangerous blood clots which, if they develop around the placenta, can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a miscarriage. These antibodies may also interfere with the embryo’s ability to attach to the uterine wall.
When low-dose aspirin, also called baby aspirin, is given to these women, their platelets become less sticky, their blood circulates more smoothly, and precious oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the placenta. It may also help the embryo attach and grow on the uterine wall.
A recent study conducted in Argentina and published in Fertility and Sterility demonstrated the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin with women who had experienced multiple miscarriages and who were undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). The study compared two groups of 149 women. One group took a daily dose of aspirin along with their IVF medication to stimulate their ovaries, while the other group took just the IVF drugs. Forty-five percent of the women who took the aspirin became pregnant, but only 28 percent of the other group conceived. The researchers also found that the women taking aspirin produced more eggs than the other group and they were able to retrieve an average of 16.2 eggs from them, compared with just 8.6 eggs from the non-aspirin group.
However, the results of this and other studies have been questioned in the scientific community. According to Peter Wardle, honorary secretary of the British Fertility Society, “Opinion is fairly divided. Small studies suggest there is a difference while larger studies suggest there isn’t.”
In a study conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, researchers followed 316 women in consecutive IVF cycles over a period of six years. Seventy-two of the women were given aspirin and 244 were not. They found that the live birth rate in aspirin users was 29 percent, slightly lower than the 41 percent in the no-aspirin control group. In addition, the implantation rates were 21 percent with aspirin and 30 percent in the control population. The scientists concluded that low-dose aspirin was not beneficial to IVF patients, nor did the aspirin enhance endometrial thickness, augment the ovarian response, or improve pregnancy rates.
Aspirin therapy is only available when taken along with Heparin (a powerful anticoagulant medication), and only under the close supervision of a licensed health care provider. Neither drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use as anticoagulation therapy during IVF and long-term use of aspirin is not recommended. There is a risk of hemorrhage and prolonged use may actually interfere with fertility by preventing mature eggs from being released from their ovarian follicles. You should not undergo aspirin therapy if you are allergic to aspirin or you experience gastric bleeding or inflammation.
Previously, there was a study showing that 1,000 women who had a miscarriage were randomly divided into two groups to participate in the survey. One group took low-dose aspirin every day, and the other group took a placebo (a fake drug designed to make the patient feel they are taking medicine but have no effect on the physiology of the body).
Results showed that 78% of women who took aspirin became pregnant again, while the proportion in the placebo group was 66%. In the aspirin group, 62% of women gave birth successfully, compared to 53% in the placebo group.
The aspirin’s increased blood flow explains it to the uterus, which supports conception. Besides, aspirin also plays a role in pregnancy because of its effects on blood vessel walls. Aspirin reduces the risk of complications in women with gestational hypertension. Taking aspirin 100mg per day can reduce the frequency of eclampsia, hematoma after placenta, and stillbirth risk.
More research on the benefits, side effects, and risks of taking aspirin needs to be performed before it can be recommended to the general public. But if you would like to try aspirin therapy as part of your efforts to conceive, talk to your doctor or reproductive specialist.