Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
When you're looking to get pregnant and are turning to fertility drugs to achieve your goal of starting or continuing your family, it is vital to have all the information available to you before you begin the process.
Fertility drugs increase the level of hormones in your body, and in some cases, the natural increase of pregnancy hormones can lead to mild liver problems.
With this in mind, some women worry that they are putting themselves at risk by taking fertility drugs.
While some women do have a higher risk than others due to their medical history, there is little evidence to suggest this is a common side effect that can occur.
Here are the key points that we shall cover:
- What Is Drug-Induced Liver Disease?
- The Primary Function Of The Liver
- Common Fertility Drug Side Effects
- Fertility Drugs And Liver Disease
- Symptoms Of Liver Disease
- How Do Drugs Cause Liver Disease?
- How Is Drug-Induced Liver Disease Diagnosed?
What Is Drug-Induced Liver Disease?
Drug-induced liver diseases are conditions of the liver that are caused as a direct result of medications or drugs.
These diseases can be caused by a range of substances such as prescription medications, over-the-counter treatments, hormones, illicit drugs, and even environmental toxins.
The Primary Functions Of The Liver
The liver is an organ located in the upper right-hand side of the abdomen and has many essential functions.
- Bile: The liver creates and releases into the intestine, where it assists with the digestion of fats.
- Blood Purifying: This organ helps to purify the blood by changing potentially harmful chemicals into harmless ones, including alcohol. Once the toxic chemicals have been neutralized, they are secreted with bile for elimination through the stool or back into the bloodstream. They are removed by the kidneys and eliminated via the urine.
- Proteins: The liver also produces many essential substances like albumin that are vital for our health.
Common Fertility Drug Side Effects
While many women use fertility drugs without any problems, there are some side effects that are known to your doctors that they will discuss with you prior to you taking medical fertility drugs.
Most of the common side effects are harmless, but if you do experience any, it is vital that you seek out a medical professional in order to be sure you have nothing the worry about.
The most common side effects are:
- Changes in mood including anxiety, depression, and mood swings
- Nausea, vomiting, cramps, headaches, and breast tenderness.
- Multiple births
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
- Pregnancy loss
Fertility Drugs And Liver Disease
Information surrounding the long-term effects of fertility drugs can be confusing and, in some cases, contradictory.
When a woman is pregnant, the increase in hormones poses a risk to developing Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy in the third trimester.
The normal flow of bile is affected by the increased amounts of pregnancy hormones. Cholestasis occurs in about 1% of pregnancies but is more common in certain ethnic groups such as Swedish, Chilean and South Asian.
Due to the increased risk, many women fear that fertility drugs can cause the risk to increase even further; however, there has been no evidence to suggest this is the case, except in very rare cases.
In these rare cases, the women were at high risk of OHSS and monitored closely by doctors to reduce the impact of the dangers on the mothers during pregnancy.
Symptoms Of Liver Disease
When someone is suffering from mild liver disease, they may have few or no symptoms, which can make it hard to detect normally, but for pregnant women, doctors monitor them closely in order to catch any problems early.
However, the condition is very rare only affecting around 1 in 20,000 pregnancies.
Those with severe liver disease can develop a range of symptoms and signs that may be nonspecific or specific.
Nonspecific signs include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, whereas those with specific symptoms can expect yellowing skin, itching, and easy bruising.
How Do Medications Lead To Liver Disease?
There are many ways that drugs can affect the liver and cause disease.
Some drugs can directly damage the liver, while the liver changes others into chemicals that can cause injury.
Dose-dependent toxicity: This is when a drug can cause liver disease in people if enough of the drug is taken, which is why it is crucial to always follow your physician's advice when taking any prescribed medicines.
Idiosyncratic toxicity: Idiosyncratic toxicity can only occur in people that have inherited specific genes that control the chemical transformation of that specific drug.
During the transformation process, the liver may be unable to break down the drug causing an accumulation in the body.
When it does break down the medication, it produces metabolites that are harmful to the liver.
Inherited idiosyncratic toxicities are rare and occur in less than 1 in 10 per 100,000 people.
Drug Allergy: Allergies to drugs can cause a patient to develop liver disease; however, this is uncommon.
When a drug allergy transpires, the liver is injured by the inflammation during the allergic reaction.
How Is Drug-Induced Liver Disease Diagnosed?
Diagnosing drug-induced liver diseases can often be challenging as many patients may not have symptoms, or they only suffer from mild nonspecific symptoms.
Some patients may also have other potential causes for their liver problems, such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and alcohol dependency.
The diagnosis of any liver problems is based on a patient's symptoms, physical findings, and abnormal laboratory tests, including blood levels of liver enzymes and blood clotting times.
Diagnosis relies on clincial judgement and knowledge about the agent that may have caused toxicity.
Once it has been determined that the patient is suffering from liver problems, it is the doctor's responsibility to find the cause, and there are a few ways they will do this.
- Medical history: The doctor will examine the patient's history both for any genetic conditions and to rule out alcoholic live disease
- Blood tests: Tests will be performed to exclude the possibility of viral hepatitis B and C, as well as to exclude and chronic liver problems like primary biliary cirrhosis and autoimmune hepatitis
- Physical examination: The examination will involve an ultrasound of the abdominal region or CT scan of the liver to eliminate tumors of the liver and gallbladder disease.
- Prescribed Medication: The doctor will also examine the patient's prescribed drugs history to see what has been recently administered or ingested. This is done to pinpoint any know drugs that can cause liver problems in high doses.
When it comes to fertility drugs and liver problems, you can trust that Fertiligy is safe and the perfect tool to help improve your fertility when looking to start a family.
It works by containing only natural nutrients that can fill any deficiencies while improving your anti-oxidant status.
If you have any concerns, consult a doctor for more advice on taking Fertiligy.