Young men who regularly take Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter painkiller drug, at high doses stand a high risk of infertility, a new research study has revealed.
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States found that regular ibuprofen use may lead to compensated hypogonadism, a condition that can lead to infertility, erectile dysfunction, depression and loss of bone and muscle mass, among other symptoms.
The condition is most commonly seen in smokers and the elderly, but the new research suggests it can affect young men, too.
The lowered fertility was noticed among some 31 men aged under 35 who take the maximum daily dose of Ibuprofen—1200mg or six tablets of 200mg each—for six weeks.
Within two weeks, the men developed hypogonadism, a sexual hormone dysfunction that meant their bodies produced less testosterone (the male sex hormone).
The level of the trouble hormone was dependent on the level of ibuprofen in their blood.
And these hormones are key to fertility, suggesting prolonged use of the drug could lead to a diminished sex drive.
The level of another hormone, which stimulates testosterone production, increased as the men took the drug, but overall production of testosterone did not increase.
Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Other members of this class include aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen) and several others.
These drugs are used for the management of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation.
Ibuprofen is a common over-the-counter painkiller drug. Men who work in high-energy jobs pop Ibuprofen as a routine.
Researchers don’t believe any side effects are in store for men who take the drug for occasional headaches.
The problem is in men who use it for long-term pain management. Full blown hypogonadism impairs a man’s ability to produce sperm.
One in every four couples of reproductive age in developing countries experience childlessness despite five years of attempting pregnancy, according to the World Health Organisation.
In 2010, 45 million couples were infertile, according to one study. A separate study suggest men are solely responsible for up to 30 per cent of all cases of childlessness. Overall, they contribute to half of all cases.
Other analyses in the journal, Human Reproduction Update, found sperm counts of men in developed world are plummeting. For forty years until 2011, sperm concentration has declined 52 per cent and sperm count has dropped 59 per cent.