Women have been cautioned against taking drugs for painful periods and back pain as it could cause infertility.

A new study revealed that drugs such as naproxen, diclofenac, ibuprofen and aspirin which are largely used for the treatment of pain, inflammation, painful periods and fever can reduce a woman’s fertility.

The researchers analysed the effects of the 3 NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) on fertility.

As part of the study, painkiller study investigator, Prof. Sami Salman, of the University of Baghdad, Iraq recruited 39 women of childbearing age who suffer from back pain to take part in the study.

The women received diclofenac (100mg once daily), naproxen (500mg twice daily) and etoricoxib (90mg once daily) or a placebo.

The drugs were given 10 days after the beginning of their menstrual cycle, the first day of a woman’s period.

Researchers tested whether the women had ovulated by analysing the level of the hormone progesterone, via a blood sample. They also measured the diameter of the dominant follicle, a fluid-filled cavity in the ovaries that contains one undeveloped egg, using ultra sonography, a form of ultrasound.

The team found that of the women receiving NSAIDs, only 6.3% of those taking diclofenac ovulated, and only 25% of women taking naproxen and 27.3% taking etoricoxib ovulated.

This was compared with 100% of women in the control group, who were not taking medication.

Based on the findings Salman said:

“After just 10 days of treatment we saw a significant decrease in progesterone, a hormone essential for ovulation, across all treatment groups, as well as functional cysts in one third of patients. These findings show that even short-term use of these popular, over-the-counter drugs could have a significant impact on a women’s ability to have children."

Also doctors said the risk of reduced fertility associated with the drugs, must be communicated to women regularly taking the medication.