Asthma and Infertility

I was buzzing through the latest headlines on asthma, one caught my eye: "Asthma Linked To Infertility In Women Who Only Take Short-Term Medication".1 To be clear: I, personally, am NOT trying to conceive a child. I might have kids someday. Today is not that day.

Does asthma make it difficult for women to have kids?

For me, an asthma treatment that impacts short-term fertility is not a deal breaker. However, I want to avoid any medication that would hurt my ability to start a family when I'm ready. My healthcare team and I are clear on this. We've talked about this and they are aware of my goals. Yes, this was a bit of an awkward discussion. I'm glad I bit the bullet and discussed it. I was assured that the medications I'm on are safe for my future fertility. The risk would also most likely outweighs the benefits were I to become pregnant.

Back to the research! Will asthma give me difficulties in starting a family? Well, according to a recently released study it depends. Researchers found that Women without asthma and women who control their asthma with daily steroid inhalers get pregnant in similar time frames.1 However, women who use a rescue inhaler only for their asthma typically take 20% longer on average to conceive.1 The study also found that these women are "30% more likely to have taken more than a year to conceive than women without asthma."1 Unfortunately, this study didn't specifically look at why these women take longer to become pregnant. It merely observed the correlation.

A study from 2013 also looked at women with asthma who were trying to conceive. Those women who received treatment more readily able to conceive children.2 The principal investigator of this study assumes "that the systemic inflammation characterized by asthma may account for the effect on delaying fertility".2 Sounds like women with asthma, who are trying to get pregnant, have another good reason to strive for good control.

Could inflammation caused by asthma play a role in this?

"Most health care professionals agree that inflammation caused by asthma can affect other areas of the body not related to the respiratory system."2 Say what?!?! It stands to reason, that inflammation doesn't just hang out in our lungs. I just don't recall coming across this consensus before. I'll add this to the growing list of reasons why I should be compliant with my treatment.

Large studies have shown "that it is safer to take the asthma medications than not taking any medication for the condition" while pregnant."1 Which makes sense to me, having a healthy mother can't hurt the fetus developing in her womb. I understand the desire to have the most "natural" pregnancy possible. However, science here seems to side with the benefits of long-term control medications for asthmatics who are pregnant. The 2013 study also importantly noted that asthma did not limit the number of births."2 Asthma, maybe a small roadblock to conceiving children. Like most challenges, it is not an insurmountable hurdle with appropriate help from your healthcare team. Have you discussed conceiving children with your healthcare team? Does a future addition to your family into your asthma treatment plan?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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