Could you be lowering your fertility without even realizing it?
Got a headache? Take an ibuprofen. Sore muscles? Pop a painkiller. But if you take a daily dose of ibuprofen, we have some bad news: All of those pills can add up. They might increase your risk of heart attacks and cause muscle weakness, for starters. Now, new research shows that ibuprofen can damage fertility, too.
According to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, men who take this popular pain reliever over a long period of time might be more likely to develop a health condition called compensated hypogonadism, which could reduce their fertility.
For the study, 31 men between the ages of 18 and 35 took 600 milligrams (three tablets) a day of ibuprofen for six weeks. Other volunteers received a placebo drug. Then, a team of researchers from Denmark and France monitored the participants for two weeks.
By the end of the study, all of the volunteers showed higher levels of luteinizing hormones, which prevented certain cells in their testicles from producing testosterone. The researchers also found that participants’ pituitary glands were producing more of another hormone that encouraged their bodies to produce more testosterone.
While the combination of these two responses kept the participants’ overall testosterone levels constant, the changes still overworked their bodies, causing compensated hypogonadism. This condition can cause a temporary reduction in the production of sperm cells in men, reducing their fertility. (Here are 13 more things your urologist wants you to know.)
But hold up—you might not want to toss those painkillers just yet. It’s likely that the average ibuprofen user won’t experience any negative side effects to their fertility; on the other hand, regularly using the drug for long periods of time could be cause for concern, researchers say. Still, it can’t hurt to cut back on the pills in the meantime, regardless of your normal dose—at least until further studies are done.
Concerned about your baby-making ability? Here’s what you can do to boost your fertility.
Originally published as Attention, Men: Doing This Every Day Could Lower Your Fertility on ReadersDigest.com.