Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter drug that helps with pain and inflammation.
However, for men, it could compromise their ability to procreate, a new study suggests.
According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, prolonged and heavy use of the drug “alters human testicular physiology to produce a state of compensated hypogonadism.” In common terms, the man’s testicles don’t secrete enough testosterone and the ability to produce sperm is impaired.
The study involved 31 men, ages 18 to 35. Some took 1,200 milligrams of ibuprofen – commonly known as Advil or Motrin, among others – every day in two 600 mg doses over a six-week period, while others received a placebo.
“The study shows that ibuprofen use results in selective transcriptional repression of endocrine cells in the human testis,” the significance on the PNAS site reads. “This repression results in the elevation of the stimulatory pituitary hormones, resulting in a state of compensated hypogonadism, a disorder associated with adverse reproductive and physical health disorders.”
Despite the results, a lecturer says casual use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) by men should be just fine.
“The effects were very mild even after six weeks of regular consumption of ibuprofen, which is longer than is usually recommended in practice, so this data should not concern men who occasionally take ibuprofen for pain relief,” Ali Abbara, Imperial College London’s senior clinical lecturer in endocrinology, told Forbes.
The study was first tested on women, according to CNN.
Erma Z. Drobnis, a University of Missouri, Columbia, professor who specializes in fertility, says this study is important, given how common ibuprofen is, even with such a small sample size.
“Larger clinical trials are warranted,” she told CNN. “This is timely work that should raise awareness of medication effects on men and potentially their offspring.”