Could Ibuprofen Negatively Affect Male Fertility?
March 18, 2018 | Pharmaceutical Litigation
Ibuprofen is a type of drug classified as an NSAID – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Sold by the brand names Motrin and Advil, NSAIDs are a class of drugs that most Americans are very familiar with, in fact, some may even take Ibuprofen on a daily basis to help with pain management, and most don’t think twice about taking it when pregnant, handing it out to a friend or loved one with a headache, or even giving it to a child.
But while NSAIDs have garnished a reputation as a type of drug that Americans trust most, they may not be as safe as believed. New studies, as reported by CNN, have linked Ibuprofen to a range of uncomfortable and dangerous health conditions, including things like bleeding and holes in the stomach, ulcers, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. And now, new research has added another concern to the list: NSAIDs like Ibuprofen may negatively affect male fertility, hindering the testicles’ ability to produce both sperm and testosterone.
The New Study: Ibuprofen and Decreased Fertility
The latest study, which was published in January of 2018 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, looked at the effects of Ibuprofen on a small group of young men, who were taking doses of Ibuprofen “commonly used by athletes.” The results of the study were shocking: after taking Ibuprofen, some of the young men involved in study developed a condition that often does not affect men until an older age, and one that is closely linked to reduced fertility. The study concluded that “Ibuprofen alters human testicular physiology to produce a state of compensated hypogonadism” (which means a lack of hormone secretion). Hypogonadism is also linked to an increased risk of depression and cardiovascular events.
Not the First of Its Kind
The study may be one of the first do use adult male volunteers to determine the effects of Ibuprofen, but it is not the first study to suggest that taking NSAIDs could have an impaired effect on male fertility. In fact, a study that was recently conducted involving women pregnant with male babies concluded the same. The study observed the health effects of mothers taking three common over-the-counter drugs: ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin. All three drugs were shown to affect the testicles of the male babies, disrupting male hormones and affecting both sperm and testosterone production. As a note, the drugs also increased the risk that the babies would be born with congenital defects.
Rates of Infertility Increase Around the Globe
Infertility is becoming a common problem around the globe, and it’s not just drugs like Ibuprofen that may be playing a role. In 2017, The New York Times published an article that warned that “a male infertility crisis is coming,” citing data such as the fact that males’ sperm counts in Europe, North America, New Zealand, and Australia declined by 50-60 percent over a recent 38-year period. Another article, this time coming out of CNN, confirmed that sperm counts are plummeting, and provided a list of potential reasons for the decline, including things like climate change, obesity, and exposure to phthalates.
Should You Stop Using Ibuprofen?
The Consumer Health Products Association, an organization that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter drugs like Ibuprofen, says that while it supports more research, Ibuprofen has a well-documented history of being safe. While this may be true, new research strongly suggests that taking Ibuprofen could have dangerous consequences for men, and perhaps for society as a whole.
Before you take any drug, over-the-counter or otherwise, you should always consult your doctor first. This is true for Ibuprofen. Further, conducting independent research about drugs and potential side effects and risk factors is always a smart idea; the more you know, the more informed decision you can make.
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