Remember Ibuprofen? That cheap, popular over-the-counter painkiller widely used for aches and pains is in the news again but for the wrong reason.
It may not be wise to take the drug for the long term since it has recently been linked to male infertility.
In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, led by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, scientists studied the pain reliever’s effects on testicular cells of 31 healthy men aged 18 to 35, of which 14 subjects were administered 600mg of ibuprofen – or three tablets – twice a day for six weeks which is significantly longer than is recommended for over-the-counter medicines intended for short-term use.
Within two weeks of being put on the high dose regimen, the participants developed a sexual hormone dysfunction condition called hypogonadism which affects the sex hormones that regulate the production of testosterone.
The drop in the hormones produced by the testicles then causes them to shrivel up causing fertility problems.
Dr David Kristensen, of Copenhagen University, said: “Through a clinical trial with young men exposed to ibuprofen, we show that the analgesic resulted in the clinical condition named ‘compensated hypogonadism’ – a condition prevalent among elderly men and associated with reproductive and physical disorders.”
Compensated hypogonadism is a disorder associated with adverse reproductive and physical health disorders.
It occurs when men have normal levels of testosterone but higher levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) – a chemical that stimulates the production of testosterone. It occurs before any obvious symptoms develop.
Dr Kristensen said: “In the men, luteinizing hormone (LH) and ibuprofen plasma levels were positively correlated, and the testosterone/LH ratio decreased”.
“Further characterisations of the state of compensated hypogonadism induced by ibuprofen – which was already established after 14 days of ibuprofen administration – are therefore important in determining the potential effects on healthy young men.”
He added: “Moreover, ibuprofen appears to be the preferred pharmaceutical analgesic for long-term chronic pain and arthritis.”
“Therefore it is also of concern that men with compensated hypogonadism may eventually progress to overt primary hypogonadism, which is characterised by low circulating testosterone and prevalent symptoms including reduced libido, reduced muscle mass and strength, depressed mood and fatigue.”