Study suggests link between ibuprofen, male infertility

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Taking the common painkiller ibuprofen has been linked in a small study with a condition affecting male fertility problems.

The researchers recruited 31 healthy men between the ages of 18 and 35. The volunteers were interviewed, completed a questionnaire assessing their physical activity, and gave a blood sample.

Ibuprofen is one the most well-known pain medications in the West, taken by millions of people every day.

Half the group took 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day - the maximum recommended dose in the U.S.is 800mg up to four times a day - for 2 weeks.

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Male fertility is dropping around the world and the researchers wanted to see if ibuprofen might be contributing to this.

Within 14 days, the men taking the ibuprofen developed the hormonal condition linked with lower fertility.

The authors speculate that this could have health implications for such men, given the known links between the disruption of such hormones and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and infertility. That number rose to a 23 percent decrease after 44 days.

William Colledge, professor of reproductive physiology at the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the research, said: "It's a fascinating study that suggests that men should be cautious about using high doses of ibuprofen for extended periods".

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While "it is sure" that the hormonal effects in the study participants who used ibuprofen for only a short time are reversible, it's unknown whether this is true after long-term ibuprofen use, study co-author Bernard Jegou, director of the Institute of Research in Environmental and Occupational Health in France, told CNN.

But given how athletes routinely use the medication to help with recurring sports injuries, experts say this is something we definitely need to stay aware of - because despite how some might abuse it, ibuprofen isn't something that was ever meant to be taken casually. "The risk is greater than the benefit". "These compounds are good painkillers, but a certain amount of people in society use them without thinking of them as proper medicines".

"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, and depressed mood and fatigue".

The study of 31 male participants found the administration of ibuprofen reduced production of testosterone by almost a quarter in about six weeks - resulting in compensated hypogonadism.

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