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Aspirin for Infertility

Aspirin has been used for more than a century to treat minor aches and pains. Now, recent studies have suggested that aspirin may also help you conceive. But how effective - and safe - is taking aspirin for fertility?

Aspirin is made from the chemical acetylsalicylic acid, which reduces pain and swelling by inhibiting the action of Cox-2 enzymes in your body, which produce prostaglandins, the hormones that cause muscular constriction, fever, and inflammation.

Scientists believe that aspirin may help women who experience recurrent spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) conceive and carry a baby to term. Some of these women have very high levels of antiphospholipid antibodies, which cause blood platelets to stick together and the blood to thicken. This can increase the risk of developing dangerous blood clots which, if they develop around the placenta, can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a miscarriage. These antibodies may also interfere with the embryo's ability to attach to the uterine wall.

When low-dose aspirin, also called baby aspirin, is given to these women, their platelets become less sticky, their blood circulates more smoothly, and precious oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the placenta. It may also help the embryo attach and grow on the uterine wall.

A recent study conducted in Argentina and published in Fertility and Sterility demonstrated the effectiveness of low-dose aspirin with women who had experienced multiple miscarriages and who were undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). The study compared two groups of 149 women. One group took a daily dose of aspirin along with their IVF medication to stimulate their ovaries, while the other group took just the IVF drugs. Forty-five percent of the women who took the aspirin became pregnant, but only 28 percent of the other group conceived. The researchers also found that the women taking aspirin produced more eggs than the other group and they were able to retrieve an average of 16.2 eggs from them, compared with just 8.6 eggs from the non-aspirin group.

However, the results of this and other studies have been questioned in the scientific community. According to Peter Wardle, honorary secretary of the British Fertility Society, "Opinion is fairly divided. Small studies suggest there is a difference while larger studies suggest there isn't."

In a study conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, researchers followed 316 women in consecutive IVF cycles over a period of six years. Seventy-two of the women were given aspirin and 244 were not. They found that the live birth rate in aspirin users was 29 percent, slightly lower than the 41 percent in the no-aspirin control group. In addition, the implantation rates were 21 percent with aspirin and 30 percent in the control population. The scientists concluded that low-dose aspirin was not beneficial to IVF patients, nor did the aspirin enhance endometrial thickness, augment the ovarian response, or improve pregnancy rates.

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