A new study has found that ibuprofen, the popular pain-relieving drug, may be causing infertility in young men. For the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Danish researchers observed men between 18 and 35 who had no fertility problems before the study began. Researchers found that after just two weeks, the men who took 600mg of ibuprofen (about three pills) every day increased their chances of developing a hormonal condition called ‘compensated hypogonadism’ resulting in falling testosterone levels and limited sperm production.
The research comes as “Concern has been raised over declining male reproductive health in humans,” writes lead author David Kristensen of the University of Copenhagan in the PNAS study.
Researchers discovered that in the first two weeks of the study, men had already experienced a significant decrease in sex hormone levels, which included an 18 percent drop in free testosterone. As the study progressed, the sex hormone levels continued to drop at an alarming rate. The study only lasted 44 days but researchers warn that using ibuprofen long-term for chronic pain or arthritis puts men at risk of triggering ‘compensated hypogonadism.’ Along with low testosterone, ‘compensated hypogonadism’ can reduce libido and muscle mass while leaving users susceptible to depression and fatigue.
Dr. Richard Quinton, Senior Lecturer in Endocrinology at Newcastle University to UK newspaper The Telegraph “This is a landmark study that elegantly combines clinical and basic research, at both tissue and cellular levels, to show that ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter painkiller, can reversibly hinder testosterone production by testicular cells.
Some have expressed reservations about the larger conclusions being drawn from the study including Dr. Kevin McEleny, Chair of the British Fertility Society’s Education and Training Sub-committee, who said the study had not yet proven ibuprofen has any long-term effect on male fertility. Still, McEleny admitted that the results did warrant further investigation.