Ibuprofen is part of a class of medical drugs known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Commonly sold as Motrin or Advil, it is used to treat minor aches and pains, as well as reduce fevers. In some cases, it can be prescribed in stronger doses.
People who regularly take NSAIDs may be subjected to a higher heart attack or stroke risk than those who do not, according to the National Institutes of Health. The medication also has a risk of causing ulcers for some people. These risks are higher if a person takes NSAIDs for a longer period of time, are older or in poor health, and have three or more alcoholic drinks per day.
A study published on Monday has revealed a new risk presented by the use of ibuprofen, which may cause some men to steer clear of the drug.
A study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that Ibuprofen has a negative impact on the testicles of young men. When taking ibuprofen in doses commonly used by athletes, a sample of young men developed a hormonal condition that is linked to reduced fertility.
When CNN asked Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, two dominant makers of major ibuprofen brands, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association gave a statement. Mike Tringale, a spokesman for the group, stated that the association “supports and encourages continued research and promotes ongoing consumer education to help ensure safe use of OTC medicines,” adding that “the safety and efficacy of active ingredients in these products has been well documented and supported by decades of scientific study and real-world use.”
The testicles produce sperm and play a role in regulating testosterone levels. Ibuprofen is then an “anti-androgenic,” meaning it can disrupt male hormones, explained David M. Kristensen, a study co-author and senior scientist in the Department of Neurology at Copenhagen University Hospital.
The drug also increased the likelihood that male babies would be born with congenital malformations.
During the study, men taking ibuprofen had a lower ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormones (which is secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulates the testicles to produce more testosterone if necessary), a sign of dysfunctional testicles.
The hormonal imbalance caused compensated hypogonadism, a condition that is commonly associated with impaired fertility. While the short-term effects are reversible, it is unknown if health effects from long-term ibuprofen use are reversible.
Though the new research seems to indicate that ibuprofen effectively disrupts the reproductive hormones in young men, there is a possibility that the drug might have a greater effect in men with already low fertility.
Now that this has come to public attention, larger clinical trials are warranted.