For the purposes of their study, the team recruited 31 men who were between 18 and 35 years of age. Of the volunteers, 14 were given 600 milligram doses of ibuprofen twice a day, while the rest were administered a placebo. The doses that the 14 participants received is both the maximum dose prescribed by most ibuprofen packages and what many athletes take as a preventive measure.
After just 14 days or a third of the way into the study, the men who were being given ibuprofen had developed hormonal imbalances. Taking the drug increased their levels of luteinizing hormones, which are hormones released in the anterior pituitary gland that control the function of the ovaries and testes. At the same time, their overall testosterone dropped. Though their testosterone levels remained the same, the researchers noticed that their testosterone production took a significant dip, resulting in them getting compensated hypogonadism.
According to DailyMail.co.uk, this condition is considered to be a precursor to “overt primary hypogonadism” or low testosterone levels. Normally seen in smokers and older men, this disorder, wrote the researchers, “is characterized by low circulating testosterone and prevalent symptoms including reduced libido, reduced muscle mass and strength, and depressed mood and fatigue.” (Related: BPA exposure causes erectile dysfunction and other male sexual problems.)
Luckily for the volunteers, these were just short-term effects, and the authors stated that the participants' hormone levels would return to normal at the end of the experiment. They warned, however, that long-term users of ibuprofen wouldn't be as fortunate, although those who took ibuprofen on occasion wouldn't be as at high of a risk.
Speaking to TheGuardian.com, study author David Møbjerg Kristensen remarked that long-term users were the subjects of their concern, such as athletes and those undergoing pain management. “Our immediate concern is for the fertility of men who use these drugs for a long time. These compounds are good painkillers, but a certain amount of people in society use them without thinking of them as proper medicines,” he said.
Kristensen's co-author Bernard Jégou echoed his sentiments, commenting: “We normally see this condition in elderly men, so it raises an alarm. We are concerned about it, particularly for healthy people who don’t need to take these drugs. The risk is greater than the benefit.”
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