A new study suggests that Ibuprofen can negatively affect the reproductive systems of younger men, and can even cause a condition that has been linked to infertility. The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was detailed in a CNN report by Susan Scutti. Advil and Motrin are both brand names for Ibuprofen, which is an over the counter NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. They are produced by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Ibuprofen is widely used to treat minor pain, inflammation, and fever.
The study found that when taken in routine doses common for young male athletes, some of the men developed a hormonal condition in middle age.
The study was led by a French team including co-author Bernard Jégou, director of the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health in France. His team, which included Danish and French scientists, began investigating the effects of ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) on pregnant women. These experiments showed that all of these mild painkillers had an effect on the reproductive systems of the women’s male offspring.
They also raised the risk of male babies born with congenital malformations, according to David M. Kristensen, another of the study’s coauthors from the Copenhagen University Hospital’s neurology department. He noted that all three drugs are “anti-androgenic,” which means they are disruptive of male hormones such as testosterone.
The researchers then set out to investigate the drug’s effects on adult males, choosing to focus on ibuprofen, which has the most disruptive effects of the all three painkillers. Also, many athletes regularly take ibuprofen to reduce pain during sports.
The research included 31 men between 18 and 35 years of age. Fourteen received two daily doses of ibuprofen totaling 1200 milligrams a day, while another 17 received a placebo. In two weeks, luteinizing hormones, which aid in testosterone production, had coordinated with levels of ibuprofen in their system, while the ratio of these hormones to testosterone declined.
Ultimately, this imbalance led to compensated hypogonadism, which itself can lead to fertility problems, depression, and even elevated risk of cardiovascular issues.
While the condition is reversible for the men in the study, who took their doses of ibuprofen for a short time, Jégou said it was unclear whether such effects are reversible in relation to longer-term ibuprofen use.
The study comes as other researchers have discovered declining sperm counts among men in North America, Europe, and Australia, and as scientists have noted declining fertility among couples worldwide.
Experts noted that few drugs are tested for their impact on fertility before they reach the market, and called for larger clinical trials to investigate such effects.