Last updated January 16, 2018 at 8:55 am
Men might want to rethink how often they reach for ibuprofen, with the latest research showing that it can negatively affect their reproductive health.
A small study of 31 otherwise healthy men between the ages of 18 and 35 showed that taking the equivalent of three tablets of Nurofen every day for six weeks is enough to cause a problem.
By administering certain doses of ibuprofen and then blood testing for levels of the drug and of the relevant hormones, they found that it creates a condition called compensated hypogonadism. Basically the ratio between testosterone and a testosterone stimulant called luteinizing hormone becomes disrupted, with too much of the latter and not enough of the former.
According to gynaecologist and Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Flinders University, Kelton Tremellen, this is in turn likely to affect sperm production.
“Sperm quality was not assessed in the study, but as testosterone and Sertoli cell function play a key role in sperm production there is some theoretical concern that long term use of this drug could potentially negatively impact on male fertility potential.”
But Tremellen doesn’t see a need for panic over ibuprofen use for the occasional headache.
“It is presently uncertain if taking a couple of ibuprofen tablets with a headache would cause any significant impairment of testicular function. I believe it is highly unlikely to be the case.”
But he says, “men should be cautious and not take anti-inflammatory medication for long periods of time without consulting their doctor, especially if they were experiencing symptoms of low testosterone (fatigue, poor libido and mood) or infertility.”
This research was published in PNAS.
Expert comment gathered by the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC).