Research suggests that asthma affects fertility in many ways, making it more difficult to conceive, but there is still hope for women with asthma.
Asthma is an incredibly common health condition that affects roughly one in eight women in the United States. Those who have asthma may find it difficult to breathe properly, and they often have to take a variety of medications to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. Thanks to modern medication, asthma is not typically life threatening anymore, but it can still have many unpleasant effects on the body. Researchers are beginning to find that having asthma and undergoing asthma treatments can negatively affect a woman’s chances to conceive and make her pregnancy more dangerous.
New Research Suggests Asthma Impairs Fertility
Over the years, there has been a growing interest in the ways asthma impairs a woman’s ability to conceive, so there are multiple studies on the topic. A 2018 study from the University of Adelaide looked at over 5,600 women and found that women with asthma took significantly longer to get pregnant once they started trying to conceive. When compared to healthy individuals without asthma, women with asthma struggled to conceive and had more problems during pregnancy.
Another study, which was published in the European Respiratory Journal in 2013, looked at 15,250 twins. Like the University of Adelaide study, this one found that a twin with asthma struggled to conceive as quickly. Though this was true at all ages, the study discovered that women over the age of 30 who had asthma had even lower rates of fertility compared to their non-asthmatic counterparts. It also showed that asthmatics who did not get treatment at all had a much harder time conceiving than asthmatics who were treated.
Certain Asthma Treatments May Cause More Problems with Conception
The research shows that a woman who is undergoing treatment for asthma is more likely to conceive than a woman who is not getting treatment, but this does not mean that asthma drugs are entirely harmless. The University of Adelaide study found that certain drugs tended to cause more problems than others. Short-acting asthma relievers, like beta agonists, were associated with a 20 percent longer time trying to conceive. Women who took long acting corticosteroid medications had conception rates more similar to women without asthma.
The researchers theorize that they are seeing this result because long-acting asthma medications reduce the chance of any asthma attack, and they also lower inflammation in the body. This seems to create a more potentially fertile environment than short acting medications which just stop an asthma attack after it starts. The most effective way of treating asthma while improving conception risks seems to be inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting bronchodilators on a regular basis.
What You Can Do If You Have Asthma and Want to Conceive
If you have asthma and plan to conceive, it is important to talk to your doctor and weigh your options thoroughly. Though studies seem to debate a little about the best possible drug for a woman with asthma, they do all agree that getting no treatment for asthma has the biggest and most harmful effect on a woman’s chance to conceive. Therefore, it is important to get some sort of treatment for asthma.
Long acting asthma medications seem to have the least chance of harming a woman’s chance to conceive. However, they may cause some side effects that could keep them from being an option for certain women. For women who end up needing to take the medications that cause some problems with fertileness, it is especially important to avoid asthma triggers. In general, women with asthma will have better chances of conceiving if they can control their asthma and prevent attacks.