Taking Cholesterol medication while planning to conceive
Q : I was instructed by my health doctor to take 10mg Simvastatin daily to reduce my LDL cholesterol. However, i’m planning to conceive. Thus, is it advisable for me to start taking it? If yes, do i take it until I get pregnant or i should stop taking it completely for a few months before conceiving? How long does the drug stay in the body?
Your advice is greatly appreciated.
A : The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies statins as “Pregnancy Category X” drugs and are not recommended for pregnant women. This means that studies have shown they may cause birth defects and that the risks outweigh any benefit. There have been some reports where babies were found to have deformities at birth, though in the majority of cases there were no apparent abnormalities. Since you are not at immediate risk from high cholesterol levels and there are concerns on the potential teratogenic effects (affects development of foetus or cause birth defects) of this medication, it is advisable to stop statins while trying to conceive and while pregnant. Speak to your doctor about diet and lifestyle modifications, such as exercise, which can help to control cholesterol levels in the meantime.
Ideally, statins should be stopped for 3 months before getting pregnant to allow the medication to be washed out of the body. If a woman does get pregnant while on statins, she should stop the medication immediately and inform her obstetrician so as to closely monitor her baby. In most cases, there are no ill effects on the pregnancy or foetus. Statins can be restarted if needed after a woman has finished breastfeeding her baby, or after delivery if she does not intend to breastfeed.
About the Author
Dr Hong specialises in obstetric care and management of general gynaecological conditions, including management of endometriosis and advanced laparoscopic surgery. As a mother of one, Dr Hong is a strong advocate of natural birth and breastfeeding and believes in supporting women’s choices regarding their health.
Read more about her.
Dr. Hong Sze Ching
Consultant General Surgeon
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist