You may know that smoking and a poor diet can cause fertility problems in men. But is ordinary headache medicine a culprit now, too? Maybe.
A study released in January made big headlines about and spiked Google searches for “ibuprofen use and male fertility.” It revealed evidence that the pain reliever can cause an infertility-related hormonal condition in younger men that typically wouldn’t occur, if it were to occur at all, until middle age.
But before you flush your Advil down the toilet, let’s dig into the details further. Researchers at the National Academy of Sciences discovered that the highest risk is among men who take a significant amount of ibuprofen: 1,200 milligrams a day—the max recommended for over-the-counter use. This dose is what some elite athletes take to minimize pain during a major sporting event.
The study doesn’t suggest that there’s no risk for men who take less than this amount on a regular basis or who use it just occasionally, but it does seem to focus primarily on the effects among men who have a high, steady dose of ibuprofen in their systems. Researchers also said it’s possible that the negative effects of the drug are more likely in men with lower fertility to begin with.
What do these results mean for you? Broadly, they mean that scientists are learning more about male fertility—and that’s a good thing. Traditionally, fertility science has focused mostly on women, but researchers are discovering that in about forty percent of infertility cases the male partner is either the sole or contributing cause. And the more we understand about both sides of the reproductive equation the better treatment plans specialists can design.
More specifically, the results mean that you have more data to consider as you explore your family building options. Before you become overwhelmed by or overanalyze this new information, though, talk with a fertility expert. The team at Spring Creek Fertility keeps up with all the latest fertility science and will give you context and insight that will keep your options open and your heads as pain free as possible.