Use anti-inflammatory medicine? New research finds ibuprofen could impact fertility in men

Kinderling News & Features

If you know any men relying on anti-inflammatory pain killers regularly, it might be time to reconsider. A new study has found that men taking high doses of ibuprofen for extended periods of time might develop fertility issues. Muscle wastage, fatigue and erectile dysfunction are other health concerns the study uncovered.

The study

new Copenhagen study has taken place where a group of 31 healthy 18 to 35-year-old males took 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day (that’s a total of six regular tablets daily) for up to six weeks.

Within two weeks the men developed a condition called ‘compensated hypogonadism’ which occurs when the body is forced to create more testosterone to compensate for a reduction in normal production. Essentially the excessive use of the common painkiller was disrupting the production of male sex hormones and putting additional pressure on the brain’s pituitary gland (which is responsible for driving more hormones to create more testosterone). Over time it could affect fertility and other issues and a disorder normally only seen in smokers and older men.

The concerns

Luckily for the volunteers taking part in the study, this condition was only mild and temporary. However, as reported by The Guardianthe doctors leading the research are worried that it could become permanent and more serious in those taking ibuprofen on a long-term basis, something which would result in ongoing low levels of testosterone due to the body’s inability to keep boosting them up.

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“Our immediate concern is for the fertility of men who use these drugs for a long time,” said David Møbjerg Kristensen at the University of Copenhagen. “These compounds are good painkillers, but a certain amount of people in society use them without thinking of them as proper medicines.”

The other issues

Male infertility isn’t the only health risk associated with taking ibuprofen, recent studies have also found the use of the pain killer can increase the risk of heart attack in both men and women. It can also increase the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women and has also been proven to cause kidney problems and gut issues in infants if taken in high doses. 

The advice

While further studies are required, the doctors who conducted the research and other health professionals have advised men and women to only take ibuprofen when required for minor issues on a short-term basis only. People should also stick to the maximum daily dosage (1200mg or six regular tablets for adults) for a period of no longer than three days unless otherwise advised by a doctor (as recommended on the packet).

The final word

According to the The GuardianBernard Jégou, a senior author on the study at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, says he sees no problem with people taking ibuprofen to help relieve minor pain for short periods of time – but warns against taking the pain killer for months on end if it isn’t essential.

“We normally see this condition in elderly men, so it raises an alarm,” Bernard says. “We are concerned about it, particularly for healthy people who don’t need to take these drugs. The risk is greater than the benefit.”

If a man in your life relies heavily on anti-inflammatory pills, then perhaps it’s time to seek some medical advice, especially if you’re trying to conceive.

This article was originally published on Babyology.