Ibuprofen, a common medication, has been linked to male infertility by a research group from France and Denmark. Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) sold over the counter under the brand names of Motrin and Advil and commonly used to treat pain, strains, headaches and menstrual cramps. NSAIDs, work by inhibit enzymes responsible for making prostaglandins. Hormone-like substances involved in inflammation and pain.
Male infertility has been estimated to be the sole cause of infertility in 30% of cases. This is usually reported as an abnormal sperm analysis. It is well known that in addition to aging, environmental factors such hot tubs and sauna, tobacco and excess alcohol can impair sperm quality. In addition, medications such as testosterone and anabolic steroids carry a significant risk. These medications inhibit hormones produced from the pituitary, FSH and LH, involved in sperm and testosterone production.
Since the early 2000, chronic administration of NSAIDs were reported to decrease sperm count and fertilization ability in mice and cattle. However there have been an equal number of studies that report no impact.
But does this apply to men? A study conducted at Walter Reed in 2005 assessed over 1,080 men studied the effects of ibuprofen on semen parameters and clinical pregnancy rates in IVF patients. 6.3 % of men had taken ibuprofen regularly in the three months prior to the semen analysis. There was no difference in the volume of the ejaculate, motility, progression or size and shape of the sperm. IVF pregnancy rates were identical in regular users versus nonusers.
This most recent study published Monday in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science recruited 31 men, between the ages of 18 and 35. Fourteen were given a common dose of ibuprofen, 600 mg twice a day and the other 17 men were given a placebo. After 14 days, levels of LH hormone, which stimulates testosterone production was decreased in the ibuprofen group. Concern is over time, lower LH secretion will have a detrimental effect on testicular function and sperm quality. THE LIMITATION: LH has a VERY short half-life, about 2-3 hours, and fluctuates dramatically within a day. A small study like this, looking at a very unstable upstream marker should not stop people with pain from taking an effective medication for fear of infertility.
The good news is that many environmental factors affecting fertility are reversible. Just like limiting alcohol, men might consider limiting ibuprofen intake and rarely do people take high doses of ibuprofen for more than 21-30 days. Regardless of cause, Spring Fertility is always here to help!