Painkillers in Pregnancy Linked to Male Infertility

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 03, 2011

Women taking pillsChemicals released from painkillers during pregnancy may have a detrimental effect on your boy’s fertility.


Researchers claim they have evidence to suggest that such painkilling drugs as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen or aspirin could be harmful to the early development of your boy’s endocrine system as these drugs act as “disrupters” in effect; they impede with normal sexual development.


The study carried out by Henrik Leffers MD., PhD. and his staff analysed 2,300 Danish and Finnish women.


Endocrine Disrupters


"A single [acetaminophen] tablet contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the ten most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine disruptors during the whole pregnancy," Leffers stressed.


He was intimating that one painkilling tablet was ten times more likely to disrupt to your boy’s sexual development as being exposed to the ten most natural, environmental endocrine disruptors.


Their study focused on whether the boy had “undescended testicles” (congenital cryptorchidism) or not – this being a tell-tale sign of infertility; the researchers received feedback from their questionnaire from the mothers of 834 Danish and 1,463 Finnish boys, whilst also interviewing the mothers of 491 Danish boys (285 of which replied to the questionnaire).


In all, the researchers found that only 42 of the boys studied showed “undescended testicles”, but of these, 64 per cent of their mothers took pain-killers during their pregnancy.


Other findings


Other findings to emerge from the analysis were that painkilling tablets taken during the second trimester of a pregnancy were two or three times more likely to cause the condition, whilst taking two or more kinds of tablet increased the chances also.


However, it must be pointed out that all this research is based on a small group of boys in one particular region of the world; their testicles descended later than normal, and this can be – but not always – a sign of male infertility; Dr. Leffers was quick to acknowledge that a broader study was required to qualify these findings.


Dr Leffers said: “Although we should be cautious about any over-extrapolation or overstatement - the use of these compounds is, at present, the best suggestion for an exposure that can affect a large proportion of the human population.”


Dr. Leffers said his staff were keen to follow up on these boys’ sexual maturity going forward and also wanted to broaden their scope of study.


The results from this study can be viewed in greater detail in the online version of the journal Human Reproduction.


The Leffers study appears in the advance online edition of the journal Human Reproduction.


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