Can I take laxatives if I'm trying to conceive?Pregnancy TCM Gastroenterology Women's Health
I'm 27 years old now and I have constipation since my teenage years. As such, I occasionally take laxatives in the form of tea that contains Senna. I hope it will not harm my fertility or cause any problem to the fetus if I do get pregnant.
Pregnancy is a risk factor for constipation. Many of our patients with constipation complain that it worsens with pregnancy. In these cases, they may have to take laxatives to help with the constipation symptoms.
Usually, we choose simple and safe laxatives that stay only in the gut and do not enter the body per se. for example, a stool softener like lactulose. Simple lifestyle measures are crucial, including adequate water and fibre intake, and regular exercise.
Senna and other laxatives do not affect fertility. Senna appears to be safe and does not appear to harm the fetus in animal studies. However, there are no human studies to verify its safety. Hence, it is not our preferred laxative in pregnancy.
You may want to consider a formal consultation with a gastroenterologist regarding constipation. It may be useful to understand the type of constipation you have so that the lifestyle measures can be more precise.
Laxatives are frequently used during pregnancy, especially when constipation is an extremely common problem.
Senna helps relieve constipation by mainly stimulating the movement of the intestines. There is currently no medical evidence that has shown that Senna will affect a woman's fertility, given that the effect of this medication is mainly on the gastrointestinal system.
There has also been no clear medical evidence done on human studies that has shown Senna to cause any severe birth defects. The risks vs benefits of taking the medication have to be weighed.
However, if you are trying to conceive or pregnant, then it would be advisable to see a doctor for any problems rather than self medicate with over the counter medications.
With that being said, the most important supplement you should be taking while trying to conceive is folic acid, which will help with the development of a healthy fetus.
Hope this helps!
Dr Michelle Chia