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Ibuprofen is linked to male infertility, according to a study recently published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was prompted by earlier research showing that the testicles of male babies were affected when mothers took aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. A co-author of the earlier study explains that all three drugs were found to disrupt male hormones and increase the likelihood that male babies would be born with congenital malformations.
Researchers in the new study sought to answer the question of whether athletes who routinely take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) would suffer health consequences. They focused on the effects of ibuprofen, the drug that had the strongest effect, on adult males. Thirty-one men between the ages of 18 and 35 were chosen to participate in the study, 14 of which were given 600 milligrams of ibuprofen twice a day and 17 of which were given placebos.
The men who were given ibuprofen developed a hormonal imbalance that led to compensated hypogonadism, a condition that typically develops during middle age and is linked to reduced fertility. A researcher in the new study reports that, for the study’s participants as well as others who used ibuprofen for a short time, the effects are reversible. However, it is not known whether the same can be said of long-term ibuprofen use.
Recent studies suggest that male infertility is becoming increasingly widespread, partially due to the drastic decline in sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. From 1973 to 2011, men from these countries had a 52 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59 percent decline in total sperm count.
A professor of reproductive medicine and fertility at the University of Missouri Columbia (UMC) explains that drugs are often put on the market without being evaluated for their effects on male fertility. Also, patients are often not informed about the risks of medications when they are being prescribed. This lack of informed consent may be the basis of a medical malpractice claim if patients suffer injuries from prescribed medications.
The UMC professor notes that ibuprofen has an even greater negative effect on reproductive hormones in men with low fertility. She also cites evidence that some other medications, including testosterone, opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics, immune modulators and even one over-the-counter antacid, cimetidine, should be of concern to potential fathers as well. She says that although larger clinical trials are needed to address questions like whether ibuprofen affects male hormones at low doses and whether its long-term effects on male hormones are reversible, this study should raise awareness about over-the-counter medications’ detrimental effects on male fertility.
When prescribing medication, medical professionals have a duty to inform patients of its potential side effects. Patients who suffer injury or become ill due to a medical professional’s failure to uphold that duty may be entitled to compensation. The South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. are experienced in representing victims of medical negligence. We handle medical malpractice claims across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including South Jersey, Cherry Hill and Philadelphia. To arrange a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-354-9444.