Dr. Kenan Omurtag looks at the recent study on Ibuprofen and Male Fertility.

The world we live in is so hectic, it’s no wonder we reach for painkillers and anti-inflammatories to get through some days. But for those dealing with infertility issues, a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has called into question the use of those types of medications.

Is ibuprofen safe? Does it cause male infertility? Or is this study overstating the impact ibuprofen has on male fertility?

What the study says

According to the study, published on January 8, 2018, men who regularly take over-the-counter painkillers, specifically ibuprofen, may negatively impact their fertility. It also could lead to, among other things, erectile dysfunction, depression and osteoporosis.

This study follows on the heels of a previous study done by the same team, which found that mothers who took ibuprofen during their first trimester of pregnancy may impact their sons’ fertility.

There is a problem with the study, however.

Is the study reliable?

The study was conducted over a relatively short period of time — 44 days — and on a very small sample of 31 men, ages 18 to 35. With such a small sample, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of ibuprofen’s full impact on fertility.

We spoke with our expert, Dr. Kenan Omurtag, about the study. After reviewing the results, Dr. Omurtag advises caution. “In general, the results of the study have been overblown, as has the reaction. Further study is definitely needed, with a larger study group, over a longer period of time.”

Dr. Omurtag goes further, saying, “In general, the impact of ibuprofen on sperm count is not at all documented in the recent data and, therefore, says nothing about ibuprofen’s true impact on one’s fertility.” He adds, “A very specific, small population was studied. Their use, in terms of frequency and time, of ibuprofen was very unique and not representative of the average man who uses ibuprofen very sparingly.”

According to Dr. Omurtag, the benefits of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation and as a mild painkiller far outweigh the slim possibility of impacting fertility.