I’m not pregnant yet but was told by a Pharmacist that Mebendazole takes around 3 months to leave the body. Is this true?

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I’m an expat in Thailand who had previously worked on the border of Burma. I had been having bad stomach aches and sickness and was prescribed Mebendazole (anti-parasitic drug common in Thailand). I took 500mg around 6 weeks ago and then another 500mg tablet 2 weeks ago. I read that taking this tablet during the first trimester is very dangerous. I’m not pregnant yet but was told by a Pharmacist that the drug is strong and takes around 3 months to leave the body. Considering I have taken in twice in the last 6 weeks – should I wait to start trying to conceive? If so how long should I wait?

Many thanks!

There should be no problem taking Mebendazole before trying to conceive. Refer to your condition, you are not pregnant yet plan to. We recommend that you follow some guidelines which include lifestyle, health, and immunization as well as medicine in order to prepare your health for conceiving.

For Lifestyle and health, you can change according to guidelines below.

If you have an immunization record, please make sure that you have all listed immunizations. Otherwise you need to have a blood test in order to check your immunizations. Your doctor will recommend which vaccine is required for pregnancy preparation.

Here is the check-list to run through for healthy preparation. This can be achieved for both partners. (husband and wife)

Pre-existing medical problems (hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid disorder, cardiac problems and drug history)

  • Stabilize medical conditions and ensure that medical control is optimal
  • Check that drugs needed are safe for use in pregnancy and do not affect sperm function
  • Where appropriate, refer woman to an obstetric physician for advice on implications of an existing condition on pregnancy

Weight

  • Check BMI
  • Modify diet and do more exercise to lose weight. Women should aim for BMI < 30. Women with BMI < 20 should be advised to gain weight and reduce exercise if they are exercising excessively. Being considerably underweight is associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and intrauterine growth retardation. Proper diet and exercise are important for optimal reproductive function.

Smoking & caffeine intake

  • Advise both partners to stop smoking
  • Caffeine intake less than 2 cups of coffee daily

Recreational drugs

  • Advise both partners to stop using recreational drugs

Check-up the immune system of both partners

  • For the safety of the child: some diseases may be genetically transmitted to the child including anemia, thalassemia, and hemophilia. In some families, these diseases have been transmitted through several generations. A health check-up before pregnancy will help to identify the potential risks that may affect your unborn child. It will also help in planning your pregnancy and to ensure that your pregnancy is safe. Blood test will be done for ABO Group for Hematology, Rh Group, Complete blood count, Hemoglobin Typing, VDRL, Anti-HIV, HBs Ag, Anti-HBs, Rubella Igs (women only), etc. Please read details here.
  • If you don’t have particular antibodies in your system such as for Hepatitis B or Rubella, then you need a vaccine to boost your immune system at least 3 months before pregnancy.

Sometimes if you are on medication for some disease, you need to discuss with your doctor since some may affect your baby. However this information can be found on any website. For instance, Pregnancy category X is the medicine group that you have to stop for a month before trying to conceive. Please review the table below.

FDA Pharmaceutical Pregnancy Categories

Pregnancy Category: A

Definition: In human studies, pregnant women used the medicine and their babies did not have any problems related to using the medicine. In human studies, pregnant women used the medicine and their babies did not have any problems related to using the medicine.

Examples of drugs:

  • Folic acid
  • Levothyroximone medicine (thyroid hormone)

Pregnancy Category: B

Definition: In humans, there are no good studies. But in animal studies, pregnant animals received the medicine, and the babies did not show any problems related to the medicine.
Or
In animal studies, pregnant animals received the medicine, and some babies had problems. But in human studies, pregnant women used the medicine and their babies did not have any problems related to using the medicine.

Examples of drugs:

  • Some antibiotics like Amoxicillin.
  • Zofran (Ondansetron) for nausea
  • Glucophage (Metformin) for diabetes
  • Some Insulins used to treat diabetes such as regular and NPH insulin

Pregnancy Category: C

Definition: In humans, there are no good studies. In animals, pregnant animals treated with the medicine had some babies with problems. However, sometimes the medicine may still help the human mothers and babies more than it might harm.
Or
No animal studies have been done, and there are no good studies in pregnant women.

Examples of drugs:

  • Diflucan (Fluconazole) for yeast infections
  • Ventolin (Albuterol) for asthma
  • Zoloft (Sertraline) and Prozac
  • (Fluoxetine) for depression

Pregnancy Category: D

Definition: Studies in humans and other reports show that when pregnant women use the medicine, some babies are born with problems related to the medicine. However, in some serious situations, the medicine may still help the mother and the baby more than it might harm.

Examples of drugs:

  • Paxil (Paroxetine) for depression
  • Lithium for bipolar disorder
  • Dilantin (Phenytoin) for epileptic seizures
  • Some cancer chemotherapy

Pregnancy Category: X

Definition: Studies or reports in humans or animals show that mothers using the medicine during pregnancy may have babies with problems related to the medicine. There are no situations where the medicine can help the mother or baby enough to make the risk of problems worth it. These medicines should never be used by pregnant women.

Examples of drugs:

  • Accutane (Isotretinoin) for cystic acne
  • Thalomid (Thalidomide) for a type of skin disease

Ref: http://www.womenshealth.gov

Yaowaluk Rapeepattana, M.D.
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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