Women and Medicines
Women respond differently to medications than men and should be proactive about their medication use
Women take more medications than men. They also respond differently to medications and are more likely than men to suffer medication-related injuries (adverse drug events). However, women have been underrepresented in clinical drug studies, and much still needs to be learned about the optimal, safe, and effective use of medications by women. Thus, women should be proactive about their medication use, according to Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., Senior Advisor for Women's Health at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She recommends that women take responsibility for their own health and ask clinicians questions about diagnosis, treatment, and medication use.
Women should make sure they understand the need for each medication they are taking and take them at the right dosage and time. They should ask their doctor or pharmacist about side effects, as well as potential interactions with other prescription medications, dietary supplements, herbal products, foods, and beverages. Women who are scheduled to undergo surgery should ask about the need to stop taking medications before their surgery, since some drugs (including herbal products) can interfere with anesthesia or blood clotting.
Women should inform doctors and pharmacists about all medications being taken, any allergies to medications, and if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future. Finally, women should learn how to do their own research on medications and always read the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug package inserts for prescription and nonprescription medicines.
From the Food and Drug Administration Office of Women's Health www.fda.gov/womens/getthefacts/pregnancy.html on
Taking Medicines, Vitamins, and Dietary Supplements During Pregnancy
You still can use many medicines when you are pregnant or nursing. Use this guide and talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about keeping you and your baby safe.
Know the Facts
- If you're not pregnant yet, you can help your chances for having a healthy baby by planning ahead. You can make choices about which medicines to use before you get pregnant. Always talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist first! It's very important that you keep getting treatment for any health problems.
- Your heart and kidneys work harder when you are pregnant. This makes some medicines pass through your body faster than usual. Your doctor might need to give you a higher dose of your medicines or make you take them more often.
- Some drugs can harm your baby during different stages of your pregnancy. At these times, your doctor might tell you to stop taking your regular medicine until it is safe to go back on it. Your doctor may put you on a different medicine that is safer for your baby.
Read the Label and Ask Questions
- The law says that all drug labels must list the risks for women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
- Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can help you choose the medicines that are right for you.
- Don't take aspirin during the last 3 months of your pregnancy, unless your doctor tells you to. Aspirin can cause problems for your baby, or cause problems when you are in labor.
Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- Like aspirin, it may cause problems during the last 3 months of pregnancy and when you are in labor.
Products like herbs, minerals, amino acids
- No one is sure if these are safe for pregnant women, so it's best not to use them. Even some "natural" products may not be good for women who are pregnant or nursing.
- Women who are pregnant should not take regular vitamins. They can contain doses that are too high.
- Ask about special vitamins for pregnant women that can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Important information from FDA on the risk of taking codeine for nursing mothers:
Watch this short video announcement from FDA:
To Report a Problem
Contact the FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program: