Are these common pills screwing up your sperm count?
Want to have kids some day? Better watch the pain pills.
According to a small study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, heavy usage of ibuprofen, which often goes by the brand name Advil and Motrin, could "alter human testicular physiology."
The study, which followed 31 adult men under the age of 35 in Denmark and France had some of the participants take 1,200 milligrams of ibuprofen daily (the maximum amount you're supposed to take) for a six-week period. The rest took a placebo to serve as the control group.
As USA Today explained, within a mere two weeks researchers found that men who took the ibuprofen saw a significant drop in some testosterone-producing hormones. Because of this decline their bodies compensated by developing hypogonadism, a disorder that can cause erectile dysfunction, depression and strokes.
“We report a univocal depression of important aspects of testicular function, including testosterone production, after use of over-the-counter ibuprofen,” the researchers said in their findings.
Luckily for the study’s participants, the disorder is completely reversible, as long as you stop taking the ibuprofen after a short period of time. But Bernard Jégou, a co-author at French National Institute of Health and Medical Research told CNN it remains to be seen what the consequences of long term ibuprofen use have on the male body.
"But the alarm has been raised now," he said. "if this serves to remind people that we are really dealing with medical drugs -- not with things which are not dangerous -- this would be a good thing."
Some experts believe that common medicines like ibuprofen could be contributing to a global drop in men's sperm counts. According to a November 2017 Oxford Academic analysis, men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have suffered a 52% drop in sperm concentration and 59% decrease in total sperm count over a 40-year period.
Erma Z. Drobnis, an associate professional practice professor of reproductive medicine and fertility at the University of Missouri, Columbia, told CNN that the study was "important," because it was possible that ibuprofen's effects could be more pronounced in men who are already dealing with fertility problems.
"Larger clinical trials are warranted," she told CNN. "This is timely work that should raise awareness of medication effects on men and potentially their offspring."
But don’t feel like you have to go into your medicine cabinet right now to throw out all your pain meds. This is one incredibly small study on a very small sample group.
"The safety and efficacy of active ingredients in these products has been well documented and supported by decades of scientific study and real-world use," Mike Tringale, a spokesman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medications and supplements, told CNN.
While the findings are concerning for people taking a lot of ibuprofen on a regular basis, it doesn't mean you have to avoid Advil like the plague — but it might be a good idea to watch your intake.
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