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Ibuprofen May Affect Men's Sexual Health, Study Finds

10 January 2018

No direct effect on fertility was shown, but the results of this initial study suggest that it warrants further investigation.

While it is important to note that this was a small study and more research is clearly called for, the fact that ibuprofen is so widely and casually used by so many men makes it a point of concern, particularly for those who intend to start a family.

Young men taking ibuprofen saw a coordination between luteinizing hormones (LH) - those that produce testosterone - and the level of ibuprofen in their bloodstream. Some of the subjects in the study took two doses of over-the-counter ibuprofen every day, while the others were given placebos. Epidemiological studies have shown that NSAID exposure was associated with reduced testosterone and congenital malformations; another study showed a drop in a testosterone metabolite among men who were taking ibuprofen regularly.

In March this year Jiři Dvořák, Fifa's former chief medical officer, warned of an "alarming trend" among elite football players to "abuse" legal painkillers such as ibuprofen.

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In addition to producing sperm, testicles secrete testosterone, the primary male hormone. And, while testosterone levels are normal during compensated hypogonadism, it's not a good condition to have.

Though the exact reasons for the decline are not yet known; in a recent study, researchers have linked male infertility to Ibuprofen - a common painkiller.

Erma Z. Drobnis, an associate professional practice professor of reproductive medicine and fertility at the University of Missouri, said the effects that drugs have on male fertility are rarely evaluated before marketing. But the authors have done a thorough job of following up on their results. They looked at the impact of ibuprofen on their health over six weeks, by performing tests on cells and tissue samples. Gene expression associated with turning cholesterol into steroidal hormones was also impaired, they found. (Longer term, lower testosterone would affect this, too.) A few other groups of genes involved in different testicular processes were also unaffected. So not only is the shrinking of your balls concerning on a personal level, it could also suggest you're going to die earlier. And the problem is not likely to be ibuprofen-specific, as most NSAIDs work through similar mechanisms.

Ibuprofen May Affect Men's Sexual Health, Study Finds