Warning for men taking ibuprofen: New study finds it could impact fertility

Father holding baby

It might be wise for your partner to take it easy with pain killers, as new research has revealed that men who have high doses of ibuprofen over a long period of time may be more at risk of fertility issues and other health concerns such as erectile dysfunction, muscle wastage and fatigue.

Ibuprofen investigation

A 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 Guardian, the 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.

“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.”

Ibuprofen packet


Other issues with ibuprofen

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


So is it all bad?

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 Guardian, Bernard Jégou, a senior author on the study at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said he saw no problem with people taking ibuprofen to help relieve minor pain for short periods of time – but warned against taking the pain killer for months on end if it wasn’t essential.

“We normally see this condition in elderly men, so it raises an alarm,” Jégou said. “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 your partner relies heavily on anti-inflammatory pills, then perhaps it’s time to seek some medical advice, especially if you’re trying to conceive.

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