A new study conducted by Inserm researchers within
Irset has shown that sustained ibuprofen use in
young male athletes induces a hormonal imbalance
known as 'compensated hypogonadism', usually
observed in elderly males.
If compensated hypogonadism develops, they run the
risk of increasing the hazards already associated
with this medicinal product, impairing their
physical condition (muscles and bones), and
potentially jeopardizing their reproductive and even
This situation arises due to the negative effects of
ibuprofen on testosterone production, and on the
production of two other testicular hormones.
Several studies have shown that mild analgesics
exposure during fetal life is associated with
antiandrogenic effects and congenital malformations.
The anti-inflammatory analgesic Ibuprofen is mainly
used for headache, toothache, chronic pain,
influenza, fever, and certain rheumatic disorders.
Furthermore, numerous studies have shown that vast
quantities of ibuprofen are used by athletes, often
as self-medication or when pressured by their
Conducted by Inserm researchers that have already
demonstrated the potential harmful effects of
aspirin and acetaminophen on adult human testicles
and those of ibuprofen on testicular development
during pregnancy, and supported by colleagues from
Rennes University Hospital, David Møberg Kristensen
and his Danish colleagues, and researchers from
LABERCA in Nantes, this new study brings together,
in an unprecedented manner:
clinical trial involving 31 volunteer male
athletes aged 18 to 35 years, half of whom take
Cultures of fragments of human testicles having
been exposed to ibuprofen and taken from
specimens related to therapeutic procedures or
and cultures of an immortalized human cell line.
conclusions of the clinical trial show that levels
of one pituitary hormone, luteinizing hormone (LH),
rise strongly in men exposed to ibuprofen.
hormone plays a key role in controlling testosterone
increase has been shown to result from direct
negative effects of ibuprofen on the expression of
genes coding for several enzymes responsible for
steroidogenesis, responsible for testosterone
Furthermore, ex vivo and in vitro studies have
highlighted direct effects on testosterone
Ibuprofen has been shown to inhibit a hormone
produced by Sertoli cells – inhibin B – which is
responsible for regulating follicle-stimulating
Moreover, the production of anti-Müllerian hormone
by Sertoli cells is also inhibited, both in
volunteers exposed to ibuprofen, and in the cultures
of human testicle fragments.
Lastly, ibuprofen suppresses testicular
prostaglandin production in ex vivo and in vitro
Overall, this study shows that prolonged intake of
high-dose ibuprofen (1,200 mg/day for 6 weeks) gives
rise to severe endocrine disruptor effects in young
males, leading to a condition known as “compensated
condition, usually observed in approximately 10% of
elderly males, is generally associated with
increased risks in terms of reproductive health, as
well as general health.
Ibuprofen alters human testicular physiology to
produce a state of compensated hypogonadism
Institut national de la santé et de la recherche
Institut de recherche en santé, environnement et
Albert O, Desdoits-Lethimonier C, Lesne L, Legrand
A, Guille F, Bensalah K, Dejucq-Rainsford N, Jegou B
(2013) Paracetamol, aspirin and indomethacin display
endocrine disrupting properties in the adult human
testis in vitro. Hum Reprod 28(7):1890–1898.