Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is Aspirin Helpful when Trying To Conceive?

Newswise — Although it is inexpensive, easy to obtain and poses little health risk, women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) cannot rely upon aspirin to help them become pregnant, according to a systematic review of nine studies.

Over-the-counter aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is typically used as a pain reliever. When taken daily, aspirin might lower the risk of heart attack, clot-related strokes, and other blood flow problems. Although it has its benefits, aspirin might also cause serious side effects, such as kidney failure, bleeding problems and some kinds of strokes.

But how could it help couples conceive?

“It is thought by some that taking low-dose aspirin may improve blood flow to the uterus and therefore improve ovarian response to IVF treatment, so it may be of benefit to women who have previously responded poorly to IVF treatment,” said the review’s lead author Vanessa Poustie, Ph.D., at the Institute for Child Health at the University of Liverpool in England.

Previous research on the use of aspirin with assisted conception techniques such as IVF has been inconsistent. Some studies have shown that aspirin therapy improves pregnancy rates; others have indicated that it increases the risk of miscarriage.

In the current review, Poustie and colleagues examined data from 1,449 women undergoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to treat infertility.

The studies compared the pregnancy and birth rates of women taking low-dose aspirin (150 milligrams or less taken once per day) to women taking a placebo or no treatment. Two of the studies took place in the United States; other studies were conducted in Hong Kong, Iran and Finland.

The review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

According to the review results, women taking aspirin while undergoing IVF or ICSI were not significantly more likely to become pregnant than women taking a placebo or no treatment.

In addition, no significant difference in live birth rates existed between the treatment and control groups, according to the two studies that examined this outcome.

“Despite a number of high-profile studies, there still remains insufficient evidence to be able to say whether low-dose aspirin can increase the chance of women undergoing IVF having a successful pregnancy,” Poustie said.

Poustie VJ, Dodd S, Drakeley AJ. Low-dose aspirin for in vitro fertilisation. (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4.

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit, independent organization that produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health care interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions. Visit for more information

Stacey's comment:

I have some questions with the use of aspirin and IVF especially when there is no evidence of clotting issues with the patients. The problems that can occur with long term aspirin use (and long term is realistic with how long some women go through IVF treatments) is it can lead to deadly gastrointestinal bleeding. Also one study where women took aspirin for 5 years or more were associated with a greater risk of breast cancer.

There are many natural supplements that can be used to assist with what aspirin is trying to do that are not assoicated with the possibly fatal side effects that aspirin can have.

In addition, the "success rate" in IVF does not appear to be improved at all with aspirin use. And when I say "success rate" (a phrase I think is detrimental to patients emotional well being, because if they are not "successful, then they think they are a "failure") I am referring to live birth rates. Pregnancy rates are often looked at with little mention of live birth rates. So if the very end result is not a healthy baby, should you take the chance of creating the potentially harmful side effects?