Over-the-counter pain relievers are of great benefit to many individuals. They are typically non-habit forming, work well to relieve common aches and pains and reduce fever. Headaches, menstrual cramps, pulled muscles and back pain can all be made easier by taking this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
Taking the recommended dose of ibuprofen (200-400 mg every 4-6 hours, not to exceed 1200 mg) is a safe way to relieve the aches and pains of overtraining or going a little too hard at the gym, for example. But if your pain becomes chronic, or you find yourself running to the medicine cabinet for relief far too often, you may be doing more harm than good. Especially if you and your partner are trying to conceive.
Ibuprofen and Male Fertility
A study conducted in 2018 provided some evidence that ibuprofen in high doses (1200 mg or more in a 24 hour period) can have a negative impact on sperm production. The study, which consisted of 31 healthy men, between the ages of 18 and 35, divided into two random groups, tested the effect of 1200 mg of ibuprofen (the maximum recommended dosage), taken daily for two weeks. One of the groups was given the ibuprofen and the other a placebo.
Through the course of the study researchers found a definite link between ibuprofen at higher doses and hormonal imbalance that could disrupt sperm production and male fertility. The ibuprofen appeared to impact the pituitary gland’s production of luteinizing hormone. This is the hormone necessary for production of testosterone essential in making sperm.
The effect of ibuprofen on the pituitary gland and its ability to signal the production of testosterone causes a condition known as compensated hypogonadism. When this condition occurs in adult men, it may cause:
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased muscle mass
- Decreased facial and body hair growth
- Decrease in size and firmness of testicles
- Increase in body fat
- Loss of bone mass
- Irritability, mood swings, hot flashes, depression and fatigue
- Enlarged male breast tissue
In addition to compensated hypogonadism and the effect on male fertility, the condition has also been linked to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke. So what can you do to protect your overall health and fertility? You don’t have to give up your gym membership and wrap yourself in bubble wrap, but you may want to check out these natural remedies first before you go running for the ibuprofen.
Natural Pain Relievers and Healthy Alternatives to Ibuprofen
One of the reasons ibuprofen is so effective at relieving pain is that it treats inflammation. When your muscles, tendons and nerve endings are inflamed you feel pain. By reducing inflammation ibuprofen acts more rapidly to alleviate the discomfort. However, you don’t need to pop those pills and risk your fertility. Here are some natural pain hacks proven to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
When looking to relieve pain the natural way, often times the basic remedies are best. Hot and cold compression, alternating between the two, triggers anti-inflammatory proteins that respond to hot- and cold-shock. The act of compressing the area will also keep the swelling down.
The bioactive compound Curcumin is found in turmeric root and is what giver turmeric-based pain relievers (such as this golden milk) their anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is a very effective pain reliever as well and, in two recent studies, was found to outperform over-the-counter pain relievers, and without any of the negative side effects.
Physical therapists are a wonderful source for natural pain relief. From exercises to manipulate and strengthen supportive tissue to innovative technologies like pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), PTs are a great resource, especially if you are experiencing chronic pain.
Watch Your Dosage
So go ahead and train for that half-marathon or push the limits of lifting, and if you find yourself experiencing pain afterward, try a natural remedy. If you must take ibuprofen, watch your dosage. And, by all means, if you find your pain becomes chronic, your fever returns, or if you have recurring headaches, back pain, or any pain that won’t go away, contact your physician. Your fertility may be at stake.