(Date: January 2023. Version: 4)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

Quick read

Antispasmodics are occasionally used in pregnancy if they are needed to control diverticular disease or IBS.

What are they?

Antispasmodics (mebeverine hydrochloride [Colofac®, Colofac IBS®, Aurobeverine®], alverine citrate [Audmonal®, Spasmonal®], and peppermint oil [Colpermin®, Colomint®, Buscomint®, Mintec®, PepperMinn®) are used to treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Alverine citrate is also used in the treatment of another bowel problem called diverticular disease, and for period pain cramps.

What are the benefits of using an antispasmodic in pregnancy?

Antispasmodics can reduce the symptoms of IBS and diverticular disease, and therefore improve overall health and quality of life. It is important that long-term diarrhoea in pregnancy is well-managed as it can affect the level of some important vitamins and minerals.

What are the risks of using an antispasmodic in pregnancy?

There is very little information on women taking antispasmodics in pregnancy so it unclear if they are safe for the baby.

Are there any alternatives to using an antispasmodic in pregnancy?

Possibly. Lifestyle changes and other medicines can help with IBS but are not suitable for everyone. It is important that diverticular disease and severe IBS are well-controlled, so staying on an antispasmodic may be recommended for some women.

Women who are taking an antispasmodic and planning a pregnancy should speak to their doctor or specialist to make sure that it is ok to continue. No changes to medication should be made unless recommended by a doctor.

What if I prefer not to take medicines during pregnancy?

It is important for the woman’s health and wellbeing that IBS or diverticular disease remain as well-controlled as possible. A doctor will only prescribe medicines when necessary and will be happy to discuss any concerns.

Will I or my baby need extra monitoring?

As part of routine antenatal care, most women will be offered a very detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to check the baby’s development. No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following use of an antispasmodic.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken an antispasmodic ?

There is no evidence that an antispasmodic used by the father can harm the baby through effects on the sperm.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from 

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system allows women with a current or previous pregnancy to create a digitally secure ‘my bumps record’. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, and your pregnancy outcome. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit to register.

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General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

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