Research on healthy young men who took the common painkiller for up to six weeks showed that the drug disrupted the production of male sex hormones and led to a condition normally seen in older men and smokers. The scientist tested aspirin, Tylenol and ibuprofen.
Researchers looked at 31 male participants and found that taking ibuprofen reduced production of testosterone by almost a quarter in the space of around six weeks. In the men receiving ibuprofen, levels of luteinizing hormone were up, and the ratio of testosterone to luteinizing hormone dropped. "Ibuprofen puts a severe damper on testosterone production, so the brain has to kick in", said David Møbjerg Kristensen, a senior researcher at the Copenhagen's main hospital, Rigshospitalet. In both cases, ibuprofen had a direct effect on the testicles.
Male infertility has been called a crisis, and a new report that a common, over-the-counter medication could spur the problem adds to the alarm.
However, in recent years, ibuprofen in particular has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, meaning we should be more cautious when taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
Several experts have reacted to the study findings.
'But the effects on the adult man remain largely unknown.
'Therefore it is also of concern that men with compensated hypogonadism may eventually progress to overt primary hypogonadism, which is characterised by low circulating testosterone and prevalent symptoms including reduced libido, reduced muscle mass and strength, and depressed mood and fatigue'.
Over that time, there were no significant changes in the testosterone levels found in the blood of the subjects. So not only is the shrinking of your balls concerning on a personal level, it could also suggest you're going to die earlier.
Before now, he says, "most warnings regarding this family of painkillers have focused on limiting long-term use in the elderly to prevent gastrointestinal, renal and cardiac adverse effects".
The researchers also observed other hormonal disruptions at 14 and 44 days of ibuprofen consumption, suggesting wide-ranging consequences of hypogonadism.