Men who dream of starting a family may want to pass on the ibuprofen the next time they have a headache.
Participants were split into two groups, with 14 receiving 600mg of ibuprofen twice a day two weeks before and 30 days after an exercise session, and the other acting as a control.
Researchers looked at 31 male participants and found that taking ibuprofen reduced production of testosterone by almost a quarter in the space of around six weeks. Samples were taken before and after the trial for comparison.
The team of investigators from Denmark, France and China found that within two week these men had an elevated risk of compensated hypogonadism, "a condition prevalent among elderly men and associated with reproductive and physical disorders", researchers note. This is more common in older men than younger ones. The painkiller users could potentially face prolonged low testosterone levels after the body loses its ability to compensate, leading to a host of health conditions including muscle weakness and loss, low fertility, and other issues.
Several experts have reacted to the study findings. In the men receiving ibuprofen, levels of luteinizing hormone were up, and the ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormone dropped. "If you go on and stress the pituitary gland over the long term, this state could become permanent and you develop a more serious condition". "This study should give pause for thought to sportsmen using them routinely for exercise-induced aches and pains". Surprisingly, all three drugs affected the testicles of male babies. 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. This is the first in-depth study about the effect of pain relievers on the endocrine system, and researchers say while the effects are likely reversible in the test subjects, it will require more research to better understand the long-term effects in bigger populations. A growing number of studies shed light on concerning health issues that may arise from NSAIDs and ibuprofen in particular. Ibuprofen has been shown to damage male fertility in athletes who regularly take the meds to manage pain, reported CNN. In both cases, ibuprofen had a direct effect on the testicles.