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  • Studies shows that the common over-the-counter painkiller ibuprofen can reduce sperm production and male fertility
  • New advice tells pregnant women to avoid taking ibruprofen throughout entire pregnancy

Two recent studies show that common over-the-counter painkillers which contain the substance ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen and Advil) can reduce male fertility and disrupt the development of the ovaries in female foetuses.

One study, which focused on men, found that taking the recommended dose of ibuprofen over a two-week period reduces the production of testosterone in the testicles. To compensate for this, the body produces more of a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH). The lower testosterone levels and higher LH levels cause a condition named “compensated hypogonadism” which is common among elderly men and linked to infertility. The researchers point out that effects caused by short term use are probably reversible but they are concerned that long-term use of ibuprofen might make the condition permanent.

While it is recommended that pregnant women avoid using ibuprofen in the second half of the pregnancy it has been thought to be safe in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, a recent study shows that the use of ibuprofen in the first trimester of pregnancy interferes with the development of the ovaries in female foetuses. Based on these findings, the study’s authors suggest pregnant women should avoid ibuprofen throughout their pregnancy.

So, the safest thing for men and women who plan pregnancy is to stay away from painkillers that contain ibuprofen.


Kristensen, D.M., et al., Ibuprofen alters human testicular physiology to produce a state of compensated hypogonadism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018.

Leverrier-Penna, S., et al., Ibuprofen is deleterious for the development of first trimester human fetal ovary ex vivo. Human Reproduction, 2018

Fertility Pregnancy Painkillers Medication Health