Oxymetazoline Nasal Spray and Pregnancy
Because oxymetazoline nasal spray is considered a pregnancy Category C medicine, it may not be safe to use during pregnancy. Oxymetazoline nasal spray may cause constriction of the blood vessels in the uterus, possibly reducing the flow of oxygen to the fetus. If you are having any pregnancy problems (especially placental problems), it is probably best to avoid this drug.
Oxymetazoline nasal spray (Afrin®, Nostrilla®, Sudafed OM™, and many others) is a non-prescription decongestant nasal spray. It is not entirely clear if oxymetazoline nasal spray is safe for use during pregnancy, although it is probably safer than oral decongestants.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans but that do appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Also, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
Oxymetazoline nasal spray has not been adequately studied in pregnant animals or humans. A small study suggests that a single dose of the nasal spray is unlikely to cause problems for healthy pregnant women. However, it has also been reported that overuse can lead to stress in the fetus, such as low oxygen and a slow heart rate.
Women who are having any problems with their pregnancy, especially placental problems, should probably avoid oxymetazoline nasal spray. The medication could possibly constrict the uterine blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the fetus.
It makes sense that it would be safer to use a nasal spray decongestant rather than one that is taken by mouth, as less of the medication reaches the bloodstream when used as a nasal spray. However, more research is necessary to confirm this assumption.