Men who regularly take high doses of ibuprofen may be risking their fertility, according to new research. Scientists studied healthy men between the ages of 18-35 to test the impact of taking ibuprofen over a longer period – subjects took 600mg, twice a day, for six weeks. Over a short period of time, the effects were mild and temporary but doctors fear that it could become permanent in more long-term users.
Subjects in the study began to suffer from ‘compensated hypogonadism’ within two weeks – this is a condition where the body has to boost levels of testosterone because normal production in the testes has fallen. The drug is also associated with muscle wastage, erectile dysfunction, and fatigue.
There should be no issue with taking ibuprofen in the short term, but experts have warned against taking the drug for months on end if not completely necessary. This is just another in a succession of studies that have shown that the drug can raise the risk of heart attacks, cause medical problems for pregnant women and their babies, and double the risk of miscarriage.
When testosterone production within the testes dips, the pituitary gland will compensate to increase it again but this also increases the body’s effort to create the same amount of testosterone. This stress over the long term can create permanent changes within the brain and lead to more serious conditions and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of hypogonadism include erectile dysfunction, infertility, decrease in muscle mass, development of breast tissue, fatigue, decreased sex drive, hot flushes, and difficulty concentrating. The condition can be treated, but often requires hormone replacement therapy over the long term, which can in turn cause its own side effects.
Experts now recommend that ibuprofen is not taken for more than 10 days at a time.