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Ibuprofen Use Linked to Male Infertility, New Study Suggests

10 January 2018

Researchers looked at 31 male participants and found that taking ibuprofen reduced production of testosterone by almost a quarter in the space of around six weeks. No direct effect on fertility was shown, but the results of this initial study suggest that it warrants further investigation.

"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.

Ibuprofen has always been a drug of choice for chronic pain and arthritis.

While this effect wasn't permanent, the researchers warned that prolonged use of ibuprofen by men could lead to low testosterone production - which might end up harming their fertility.

Within just two weeks, it seems that the testosterone-producing hormones in the subjects became linked to the amount of ibuprofen in their blood.

While the study sample was a relatively small one, the researchers noted that its findings have been independently confirmed from isolated cells, and earlier studies had suggested potential issues with men's sexual health and the drug.

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The decreased ratio of testosterone to LH created a hormonal imbalance called "compensated hypogonadism" in the endocrine system, which regulates and controls hormones.

The disorder normally occurs when the testes do not produce enough testosterone, so the body boosts production levels of the hormone. "It is also associated with depression and increased risk for cardiovascular events, including heart failure and stroke". Sold under the brand names Advil or Motrin, ibuprofen is a member of the class of drugs known as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Previous research by the team, which focused on pregnant women, had found that the use of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen during pregnancy affected the testicles of male babies.

Fortunately, the condition went away in the volunteers when they stopped taking the medication.

According to a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), men who take ibuprofen for months at a time could also be putting their fertility at risk. In both cases, ibuprofen had a direct effect on the testicles.

The team of investigators from Denmark, France and China found that within two week these men had an elevated risk of compensated hypogonadism, "a condition prevalent among elderly men and associated with reproductive and physical disorders", researchers note.

Ibuprofen Use Linked to Male Infertility, New Study Suggests