Regular Use of NSAIDs Can Inhibit Ovulation, May Reduce Fertility

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can inhibit ovulation and reduce progesterone in women, according to new research. In the study, the reduction in fertility happened in only 10 days. It is temporary and can be reversed by going off the drugs. However, “a woman is not going to get pregnant if she continues to take NSAIDs, and doctors need to advise women to stop taking these drugs if they want to be fertile," said to lead researcher Sami Salman, M.D. NSAIDs often used for migraine include ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Treximet, Aleve), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cambia), and indomethacin (Indocin).

The study included 39 women of childbearing age who had minor back pain. Before starting treatment, each woman had an ultrasound to assess the dominant follicle’s diameter, ovary size, and endothelial thickness, and her progesterone levels were tested. They were then given either:

  • diclofenac, 100 mg per day
  • naproxen, 500 mg twice daily
  • etoricoxib, 90 mg per day (this drug is not available in the U.S.)
  • placebo

Treatment started on day 10 of the menstrual cycle. After 10 days of continuous treatment, participants underwent another ultrasound and assessment of progesterone levels. All the women on the placebo ovulated within this timespan, but those on NSAIDs had a far lower frequency of ovulation. Ovulation occurs when the dominant follicle ruptures. The dominant follicle did not rupture in 75% of women taking diclofenac, 25% taking naproxen, and 33% taking etoricoxib. The women taking NSAIDs also had far lower progesterone levels than those on the placebo.

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Half the women in the study discontinued use of NSAIDs and returned a month later. All of them ovulated normally in their next menstrual cycle.

This is only the most recent study in many years of research showing that NSAIDs may reduce fertility. If you are having fertility problems and use NSAIDs frequently, please talk to your doctor.


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