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Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility while taking or using ibuprofen

Ibuprofen and pregnancy

Ibuprofen is not usually recommended in pregnancy, unless it's prescribed by a doctor, especially if you're more than 30 weeks pregnant. This is because ibuprofen can affect your baby's circulation and kidneys. There may also be a link between taking ibuprofen in early pregnancy and miscarriage.

Always talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking ibuprofen if you're pregnant. Your doctor can advise you about the benefits and possible harms of taking it.

A short course of ibuprofen may be OK, but it will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are and the reason you need to take the medicine. There may be other treatments that are more suitable for you.

Paracetamol is the best painkiller to take during pregnancy.

Ibuprofen and breastfeeding

You can take ibuprofen or use it on your skin while breastfeeding. It is one of the painkillers that's usually recommended if you're breastfeeding.

Only tiny amounts get into breast milk and it's unlikely to cause side effects in your baby. Many people have used it while breastfeeding without any problems.

If you notice that your baby is not feeding as well as usual, or if you have any other concerns about your baby, talk to your midwife, health visitor, pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible.

Ibuprofen and fertility

Taking ibuprofen occasionally for pain relief, for example when you have a headache, is unlikely to affect your fertility. However, it's best not to take ibuprofen tablets, capsules, granules or liquid for a long time (more than a week) if you're trying to get pregnant. In this case paracetamol is a better option.

This is because taking ibuprofen (tablets, capsules, granules or liquid) in large doses, or for a long time, can affect ovulation. This can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant, but you will usually start ovulating normally again when you stop taking ibuprofen.

There's no clear evidence to suggest that taking ibuprofen will reduce fertility in men.

Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:

  • trying to get pregnant
  • pregnant
  • breastfeeding

For more information about how ibuprofen can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, visit the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.

Page last reviewed: 18 November 2021
Next review due: 18 November 2024