For many people the world over the regular use of painkillers is almost a habitual process, and as with all medication that alleviates pain, there is a side effect, however recent studies have highlighted a somewhat surprising and revelatory side-effect with the regular use of one of the world’s largest pain killer groups – NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs often used in the treatment of pain, migraine, muscle and joint pains, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and indomethacin (to name but a few) have been successfully shown to inhibit ovulation and reduce progesterone levels in women, with a tangible reduction in fertility that happens with only 10 days of continuous use!
The study undertaken by leading researcher Sami Salman M.D. confirms that a woman will not fall pregnant if she continues to take NSAIDs as it has a direct negative influence on fertility in women who are experiencing difficulty conceiving. However, there is good news! This substantial and rapid reduction in fertility is absolutely reversible by stopping the use of NSAIDs.
This groundbreaking study included 39 women of childbearing age who were experiencing minor back pain. And as the research commenced each of the 39 woman had an ultrasound to assess the dominant follicle’s diameter, ovary size and endothelial thickness. Her progesterone levels were also tested. They were then given either:
The study commenced treatment on day 10 of the menstrual cycle, and after 10 days of continuous treatment, the participants once again underwent an ultrasound and updated assessment of their progesterone levels. The research showed that all of the women who were given the placebo successfully ovulated within this timespan, however, the women who were given NSAIDs experienced a substantially lower frequency of ovulation. As we know ovulation occurs when the dominant follicle ruptures, in this study the dominant follicle did not rupture in 75% of all women taking diclofenac, 25% of women taking naproxen and 33% taking
On a positive note, half of the women involved in the study discontinued the use of NSAIDs and returned to be tested 4 weeks later, all of these women ovulated normally in their next menstrual cycle. This is one of the many studies currently underway, highlighting the risk of regular NSAIDs use and the role it plays in reducing a woman's fertility. If you are experiencing difficulty in trying-to-conceive and the regulation of your menstrual cycle and fertility window (check out our Ovulation Calculator), and if you currently use NSAIDs frequently we recommend that you consult with your GP for more ‘fertility-friendly’ pain relief options.
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