Could Common Pain Relievers Lower Fertility? 

Teens and young adults are taking Advil and other pain relievers to help decrease cramps. But could common pain relievers lower fertility and end up hurting them later in life? New studies have shown that there may be a link between Advil (NSAIDs) and infertility.

Researchers say these popular pain relievers, some of which are available without a prescription, can create difficulties for a woman’s ovulation and lower levels of progesterone.

Sami Salman, MD, from the University of Baghdad, says that although “this process is reversible, a woman is not going to get pregnant if she continues to take NSAIDs.” He says that doctors should advise women to stop taking these common pain relievers if they want to be fertile.

Researchers are Shocked by Study

Researchers evaluated 39 women of childbearing age who had minor back pain. Each of them received one of four treatments, including NSAIDs such as diclofenac, etoricoxib (not FDA-approved in the U.S.), naproxen, and a placebo.

Before the women started their treatments, they all got an ultrasound. This was done, so researchers could check the size of their ovaries, which grow follicles every month – this is important for ovulation. Follicles rupture and release an egg when a woman ovulates. However, researchers for this study believe NSAIDs can keep that process from happening.

Researchers also measured the progesterone levels of each woman, as hormones are essential for ovulation and helping fertilized eggs attach to the lining of a woman’s womb. Salaman says that on the 10th day of each women’s cycle, they began their treatments because it ensured a follicle had developed and prepared for an egg release.

After 10 days of continuous treatment, the women got another ultrasound so researchers could see if there were any effects.

Salman says, “Ovulation was far less frequent in patients who were on NSAIDs.” He said for the women who were taking diclofenac, “ovulation was reduced by an amazing 93%, whereas for both naproxen and etoricoxib, ovulation was reduced by about 75%.”

“This was a really shocking finding,” says Salman. Not only was ovulation reduced, but so were the women’s progesterone levels. And about one-third of the women also developed a cyst due to unruptured follicles.

The next month, about half of the women returned so researchers could check their ovulation. After all of the women stopped taking NSAIDs, they all ovulated normally during their next cycle, says Salman.

Something Important to Remember

Although the effects of using these common pain relievers seemed reversible, it’s important to remember we should all be knowledgable about the different side effects drugs like these have, especially if we are using them frequently.

Please also remember that there is no need to use these common pain relievers, as there are also botanical medicines that help decrease symptoms such as cramps. And if you are struggling with fertility, there are many natural treatments that involves a mixture of diet changes, herbs , nutritional supplement that help you get pregnant. If you would like to learn more about how naturopathic medicine can help you, contact Dr. Brandy McGill to make an appointment.