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A new study found that regular intake of ibuprofen for long periods can cause the diminished function of the testes in males. The team of researchers from France and Denmark explored the antiandrogen effects of analgesics or pain relievers. They used a unique combination of randomized and controlled clinical trials for the study. The results suggested that the compounds in pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can depress testicular functionality.
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation. People can take ibuprofen when suffering from mild to moderate pain, such as a toothache, migraine headache or pain during menstruation. The drug can be used to treat fever caused by influenza, ease redness and swelling of the bone, joints, and muscles, and reduce pain from sprains and strains due to a sports injury.
According to the National Health Service, people who have a history of unpleasant reaction with aspirin or other NSAIDs should not take ibuprofen. The pain reliever is also not advisable for people with a current or recent stomach ulcer, a severe case of heart failure, a severe case of liver disease, and those being treated with low-dose aspirin for a cardiovascular problem. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists found that ibuprofen increases the risk of liver and kidney failure, and heart failure.
Mild side effects of ibuprofen include nausea, rash, and heartburn. Moderate to severe adverse effects include dyspepsia or indigestion, hypertension, asthma attack, kidney problems, ulcers in the esophagus, and a rise of potassium levels in the bloodstream.
- Like any other NSAIDs, ibuprofen can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack, especially for people who take high doses chronically. High doses of ibuprofen can substantially increase systolic blood pressure.
- Ibuprofen has been associated with bullous pemphigoid, an autoimmune skin disorder characterized by the formation of bullae or large skin blisters. Although extremely rare, the medication can cause fatal skin reactions, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.
- Alcohol interacts negatively with ibuprofen, increasing the risk of stomach bleeding. Ibuprofen may also affect aspirin effects depending on the interval between intakes. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, ibuprofen interferes with the antiplatelet effect of low-dose aspirin, which renders the heart and stroke protection of aspirin less effective.
- An overdose of ibuprofen has become profound since it is an over-the-counter medication. Overdose symptoms include stomach pain, tinnitus, liver dysfunction, seizures, respiratory failure, and heart attack.
In the latest study, another condition has been associated with chronic, high-dose use of ibuprofen. Using a randomized and controlled trial, the researchers asked 31 men with ages between 18 and 35 to take 600 mg of ibuprofen three times a day for six weeks. Other volunteers were given placebo by the researchers. The volunteers were tested regularly over the course of the study to determine the effects of ibuprofen.
Their findings revealed that in first two weeks of the study, volunteers were tested with a high concentration of luteinizing hormones. The increase of the hormones in the body was caused by ibuprofen. Luteinizing hormones are one of many hormones that control the human reproductive system. The hormones are vital to keeping the reproductive system healthy.
LH is produced and released in the anterior part of the pituitary gland and is considered as a gonadotrophic hormone, a type of hormone that plays a major role in controlling the gonads – the ovaries and testes. In ovaries, LH helps the production of egg cells during ovulation and activates production of progesterone to keep the pregnancy. In testes, LH stimulates the Leydig cells to produce testosterone that causes male characteristics, such as sperm development, facial hair, and a deep voice.
Since LH is directly involved in reproduction, high amounts can lead to infertility in both genders. Overexpression of luteinizing hormones can lead to several health conditions such as abnormal testosterone in women and low sperm production in men. Low expression of LH also causes infertility because the reproductive system cannot function properly.
The researchers found that ibuprofen prevented the production of testosterone, a hormone vital to the production of sperm cells. Another part of their findings was the effect on the pituitary gland, causing it to produce more of another hormone that forces the body to release more testosterone. The ibuprofen, LH, and reaction of the pituitary gland lead to the constant levels of testosterone, while the body suffers from compensated hypogonadism due to the ibuprofen stress.
Compensated hypogonadism is a temporary reduction of sperm cell production and fertility. The condition is expected to go away after ending the intake of ibuprofen. However, the researchers warn that even if it hasn't been proven yet, compensated hypogonadism and continued exposure to high-dose ibuprofen may lead to primary hypogonadism.
"Of note, an inverse relationship was recently reported between endurance exercise training and male sexual libido, but the possibility that medication uptake might interfere in this observation could not be totally excluded. Moreover, ibuprofen appears to be the preferred pharmaceutical analgesic for long-term chronic pain and arthritis. Therefore it is also of concern that men with compensated hypogonadism may eventually progress to overt primary hypogonadism," researchers noted.
Primary hypogonadism is characterized by low testosterone levels in the body, reduced libido, reduced muscle mass and muscle strength, and increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.