Taking too much ibuprofen can have negative effects on male sexual health, study shows

The problem affects athletes who often take ibuprofen to control pain.
The problem affects athletes who often take ibuprofen to control pain. / SUR
  • An international team of scientists has shown that the common painkiller slows the production of testosterone which can lead to impotence

Ibuprofen is a very common anti-inflammatory medication, but according to a study by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) it can have a negative effect on male reproductive health.

Taking ibuprofen in large doses for a long period of time can reduce the production of testosterone and cause sexual impotence, says the report.

This is the conclusion reached by the investigative team from INSERM, with the support of others from the Rennes university hospital and the LABERCA institute in Nantes as well as Danish colleagues.

They worked with 31 fit young men, aged between 18 and 35, who often take this medication that can be bought over the counter.

A man taking large doses of ibuprofen for a long time (1,200 milligrammes a day over a six month period) can suffer “severe endocrinal effects which lead to a state called 'compensatory hypogonadism',” explained the INSERM.

In other words, it leads to problems in the functioning of the testicles which is associated with reproductive disorders.

Testosterone production

This compensatory hypogonadism, which is a condition suffered regularly by 10% of elderly males, “is often associated with an increase in risks, as much for reproductive health, as for health in general”, the team added.

When the participants took ibuprofen, their levels of the pituitary hormone vastly increased. This hormone plays a key role in the control of testosterone production.

Other experiments showed that the medication inhibits the activity of the inhibin B follicle stimulating hormone, produced by Sertoli cells.

The leaders of this study explained that this frequently affects athletes as they use “massive amounts” of ibuprofen to self-medicate or “due to the pressure of their profession”, given that, among other things, it is not banned by anti-doping regulations.

Studies by other research teams have already revealed “the potentially harmful effects of aspirin and paracetamol on adult testicles and of ibuprofen on the development of testicles during development”.