Does Extensive Ibuprofen Use Increase Fertility Issue Risk in Men?

Men who take high doses of ibuprofen for several months at a time should pay attention to a recent study which says this could put them at higher risk for fertility issues. The study also warns that long term ibuprofen use might also be linked to other health problems including: muscle wastage, fatigue, and even erectile dysfunction.

The research shows that healthy young men who took the common over-the-counter painkiller (and anti-inflammatory) for up to six months had disruptions in male sex hormone production, a condition typically only seen in older men and in long-time smokers.  According to the study, those 18 to 35-year-olds who took part in the study exhibited a disorder known as “compensated hypogonadism” within just two weeks of taking 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day.  This condition develops as the result of the body boosting levels of testosterone because normal production in the testes has dipped.

The Copenhagen doctors who led the study also ensure that the disorder is mild and, fortunately, temporary. Still, they fear the symptoms could become permanent in long-term ibuprofen users.  This, alas, continues to lead to lower levels of testosterone to compensate.

That in mind, David Møbjerg Kristensen of the University of Copenhagen comments, “Our immediate concern is for the fertility of men who use these drugs for a long timed. These compounds are good painkillers, but a certain amount of people in society use them without thinking of them as proper medicines.”

It should also be noted that, in March, Fifa former chief medical officer, Jiři Dvořák, warned of an “alarming trend” among elite football (soccer) players to “abuse” OTC (legal) painkillers, ibuprofen included.  Before stepping down from his position, in November 2016, he interviewed players about their use of OTC painkillers and found that roughly half of all those who played in the past three World Cups had taken anti-inflammatory drugs every day.

At the same time, senior study author Bernard Jégou, of French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, comments that he saw no problem in people taking ibuprofen for pain relief, but only in the short term—like a headache or a tooth ache—but continued to warn about taking the drug for longer periods, especially if there is no real concern.

He adds, “We normally see this condition in elderly men, so it raises an alarm. We are concerned about it, particularly for healthy people who don’t need to take these drugs. The risk is greater than the benefit.”

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