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Is It Safe to Use Clotrimazole in Pregnancy?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Studies on the use of clotrimazole in pregnancy indicate that it is generally safe, with no increased risk of miscarriage or birth defects. To err on the side of safety, medical professionals may only recommend that a patient take clotrimazole in pregnancy if it is absolutely necessary. People who get pregnant while taking necessary medications should discuss their recent medical history with a doctor to determine if there are any causes for concern. If an expecting mother took a teratogenic drug, or one that is known to cause birth defects, some special evaluation might be needed during the pregnancy to check for complications.

This drug is an antifungal, effective against a range of organisms. One common reason to prescribe it is for the management of vaginal yeast infections, where it is applied as a topical medication. Pregnant women are more at risk of yeast infections, and clotrimazole appears to be a safe, effective medication to treat them. One reason for the safety of clotrimazole in pregnancy is the low absorption rate of topical forms of the drug, which means that very little of the medication reaches the fetus. It attacks the yeast, but doesn’t filter into the mother’s bloodstream.

Patients who develop what appear to be signs of a yeast infection in pregnancy should contact their obstetricians or primary care providers, even if they have past experience with yeast infections. It’s possible the symptoms like itching, burning, and irritation might be a sign of another type of infection or problem. A medical evaluation can determine the cause of the problem so the patient gets the right treatment. It may be possible to buy a medication over the counter that would be appropriate for handling the yeast infection, or a medical professional might prefer to prescribe a specific formulation of clotrimazole known to be safe in pregnancy.

Side effects can occur when a patient takes clotrimazole in pregnancy. These can include rashes and skin irritation. If they develop, the patient can stop taking the medication and consult a care provider to determine how to proceed. The reaction to clotrimazole in pregnancy might be the result of an allergy, or increased skin sensitivity associated with the pregnancy. An alternate medication could be safer.

Studies on clotrimazole in breastfeeding women are more limited, but the medication also appears to be safe in this setting. Patients should wash their hands after applying topical clotrimazole to avoid transferring it to other areas of the body, which will limit the chance an infant has direct contact with the medication. Hygiene measures can also reduce the risk of spreading a yeast infection to another location, like the mouth.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon925951 — On Jan 15, 2014

I'm 8 months pregnant with a vaginal yeast infection. I will try the clotrimazole cream. I hope it works and doesn't affect my baby.

By ysmina — On Dec 05, 2013

@donamrs-- I completely agree with you. I had to use clotrimazole vaginal suppositories several times during my pregnancy. I was reluctant to use it at first but my gynecologist assured me that it's fine.

Unfortunately, pregnancy weakens the immune system and yeast infections are very common. I never had a yeast infection before my pregnancy, and it seemed to be the worst timing ever. But I'm glad that there are treatments like clotrimazole that are effective and safe to use.

By donasmrs — On Dec 05, 2013

@SarahGen-- I'm not sure why you're so worried. Clotrimazole is absolutely fine during pregnancy. I had to use it during both of my pregnancies for yeast infections. I couldn't bear the itching anymore and the clotrimazole treated my symptoms within days. I did not experience any negative side effects and my babies were absolutely fine.

If you get the topical cream to apply externally, you don't have to worry about that at all. But if you get the other kind that has to be inserted into the vagina, make sure that you use your hands instead of the applicator. The applicator can irritate the cervix. The medication will kill the yeast but it will not reach the baby like the article said.

By SarahGen — On Dec 05, 2013

I'm in my second trimester and dealing with a terrible yeast infection. My doctor told me to use clotrimazole cream but I've been avoiding it. I'm scared that it will harm my baby and I'm hoping that the infection will go away on its own.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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