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New Study Suggests Link Between Ibuprofen and Male Infertility

Washington, DC: New data from a study published early in January, 2018, show that regularly taking the common over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen, may contribute to male infertility. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (NAC), the researchers found that regular use of ibuprofen may lead to compensated hypogonadism, a condition that can cause infertility, erectile dysfunction, depression and loss of bone and muscle mass, among other medical conditions. Ibuprofen is the generic name for drugs including Advil and Motrin.

Male infertility is a problem that affects roughly 7 percent of American men. In the study by the NAC, the data suggest that the condition can affect young men, who made up the study population, as well as men who smoke and the elderly, in whom infertility is commonly seen.

Thirty one healthy men were enrolled in the study, between the ages of 18 and 35. Fourteen took two 600-milligram doses of ibuprofen a day for six weeks, an amount consistent with what many athletes take to manage aches and pains. The remaining 17 men took placebo pills.

All the participants had blood tests and hormonal analysis throughout the study. After 14 days of ibuprofen use, the researchers observed higher blood levels of luteinizing hormone, which regulates the production of testosterone and other hormones. After 44 days, the levels of luteinizing hormone were even higher. By contrast, testosterone production did not increase, resulting in a lower ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormone, which is a sign of hypogonadism, the researchers not in their paper.

The researchers also discovered other hormonal disruptions at 14 and 44 days of ibuprofen consumption, suggesting wide-ranging consequences of hypogonadism.

Tests were also done to assess the direct effect of ibuprofen on testicles, using samples from organ donors. The data revealed that the testicle samples produced less testosterone after just 24 hours of exposure to levels of ibuprofen similar to that which would be taken orally: the higher and longer the level of exposure, the more dramatic the impact. Further, gene expression associated with turning cholesterol into steroidal hormones was also impaired.

These findings build on earlier research by the study’s lead author who found that boys born to mothers who took ibuprofen during their first trimester of pregnancy may have impaired testicular development, suggesting that in some scenarios, the drug may have a negative effect on virility.

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Published on Jan-10-18


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