Is Magnesium Citrate Safe During Pregnancy?

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Constipation is a common problem in pregnancy, and so many women want to know about the safety of magnesium citrate during pregnancy. Magnesium citrate is a laxative that helps you relieve constipation. It loosens the stool by drawing water from the intestines through osmosis. However, it is a pregnancy category C drug, so there are no evidence-based human studies. You may treat constipation in pregnancy by lifestyle modifications such as indulging in physical activity, drinking enough water, and adding more fibers to the diet. However, if these measures are not relieving the issue, seek a doctor’s help for pregnancy-safe laxatives or stool softeners. Read on to know more about the uses and risks of magnesium citrate in pregnancy.

What Is Magnesium Citrate?

Magnesium citrate is the salt of magnesium. It is a saline laxative, which increases water content in the small intestine to produce a bowel movement. It is also called an osmotic laxative as it retains water in the stools for easy bowel movements. Magnesium citrate also increases stool’s bulk with the increased water content.

Upon intake, magnesium citrate can either be effective within 30 minutes or may take up to three to six hours to show results. Magnesium citrate is also administered to patients before colonoscopy or other surgeries. It is available as Citrate of Magnesia and Citroma.

Is Magnesium Citrate Safe During Pregnancy?

There are no known risks to pregnant mothers and fetal health due to the use of magnesium citrate. But if you are pregnant, consult your doctor before you use magnesium citrate as its use can produce certain side effects. If your doctor approves its use, you may take magnesium citrate as recommended.

Magnesium citrate is FDA-approved. But it falls under category C, which means there are no sufficient human studies available on it yet. Category C also means that in animal studies, magnesium citrate produced adverse effects on fetal health. However, its use may be beneficial during pregnancy and cause minimal or no risks.

Side Effects Of Magnesium Citrate During Pregnancy

The use of magnesium citrate while pregnant can produce certain side effects.

  • Nausea
  • Mild abdominal cramps
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Serious side effects from magnesium citrate use are unlikely but possible. At times, high doses or long-term use of the drug can also cause severe side effects.

Severe Side Effects:

You may also experience dehydration due to severe diarrhea. Dehydration may cause dizziness, dry mouth, decreased urination and weakness. Dehydration can pose health risks to the fetus. Therefore, even though magnesium citrate is considered safe to use during pregnancy, it may produce side effects that can harm fetal health and cause pregnancy complications.

Also, use magnesium citrate with caution if your doctor has put you on a diet with low sodium content (1)

Magnesium Citrate And Drug Interactions During Pregnancy

Magnesium citrate may interact with some drugs. Therefore, its use must always be under caution. As magnesium citrate is an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, everyone may not be aware of its interactions with drugs. If you are pregnant, refrain from using it without knowing all precautions recommended with its use.

Magnesium citrate may interact with the following drugs:

  • Digoxin (used for heart conditions)
  • Eltrombopag (used for increasing platelet counts)
  • Sodium polystyrene sulfonate (used to lower excess potassium content in the body)
  • Antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, tetracycline, minocycline and levofloxacin.
  • Other drug interactions are also possible.

Saline Laxatives During Pregnancy

  • If you are pregnant, use saline laxatives only if your doctor recommends its use as a last resort for your constipation treatment. In any case, use it only once or twice. Saline laxatives like magnesium citrate and others are available as OTC drugs, and there are no known side effects with its use during pregnancy. Therefore, you may assume its use would be all right to use without asking your doctor. But such a thing is not advisable for pregnant and lactating women. If you suffer from kidney problems or bowel disease, saline laxatives may do you more harm than good.
  • If you are pregnant and suffer from kidney problems, it is best for you to avoid all kinds of saline laxatives including magnesium citrate.
  • During pregnancy, use saline laxatives only after you know the full range of the drug’s benefits and side effects as per your health condition.

Constipation And Pregnancy

Constipation is a major problem during pregnancy. Most women experience constipation at some point during their pregnancy. The reasons are increased hormonal changes, and the increased pressure of your growing uterus on your intestines, changes in diet, certain medicines like iron supplements, etc.

Using Laxatives During Pregnancy

It is tempting to use laxatives to get some relief from persistent constipation problem during pregnancy. But know that some OTC laxatives are better to use during pregnancy than others. For instance, stimulant laxatives like cod liver oil or castor oil are not considered safe to use during pregnancy. Also, laxatives may always not be effective and may produce side effects.

Before you use laxatives during pregnancy, try to use natural ways to find relief from constipation. If you suffer from constipation and planning your pregnancy, you can ask your doctor about solutions beforehand. This way you can be better prepared to tackle constipation during pregnancy.

Some helpful measures

  • Include more fiber in your diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Keep your water and fluid intake optimum. Lack of water often causes constipation.
  • Continue some physical activity during pregnancy after a consultation with your doctor. Physical movement is beneficial for bowel health. Even moderate walking may be beneficial for your bowel health during pregnancy.
  • Discontinue or reduce the dose of your iron supplements and use food sources for your body’s iron needs.
  • If you suffer from persistent constipation, ask your doctor for laxative recommendations that you can use during pregnancy for long-term. Certain bulk-forming laxatives are considered safe to use.

Constipation is common during pregnancy and may cause discomfort. However, you should be cautious with the use of laxatives during this time as they may have adverse effects. Magnesium citrate in pregnancy is usually considered safe, but it is better to consult a doctor to know the accurate dose. Excess consumption may cause side effects such as nausea, bloating, and stomach pain. It may also have drug interactions with medications that you may be taking. Try relieving constipation through lifestyle modifications and avoid self-medication when pregnant.


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Dr. Karla S. Sanchez-Banos

Dr. Karla S. Sanchez-Banos is a board-licensed Ob/Gyn in Mexico, specializing in Adolescent Gynecology. She is also trained in Gynecological Endocrinology, granted by AMEGIN (Gynecological Endocrinology Mexican Association). Her decade-old experience includes scientific research in teen pregnancy and the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive methods in the adolescent age group.  Dr. Karla currently works in two private medical centers in... more

Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.