Study: Ovulation Affected By Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Study: Ovulation Affected By Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

A new study concluded that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could have an impact on fertility.

Some examples of NSAIDs are asprin, ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen in Australia) and diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren).

NSAIDs are widely used across the world, and some can be bought without prescription. They are said to inhibit ovulation by preventing the rupture of ovum follicle, thus prevent the release of a mature egg (ovulation).

The research, which was presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Conference, found that NSAIDs inhibited ovulation after just 10 days use.

Researchers from Baghdad University studied a small sample of 39 women. The participants were split into four groups and assigned a medication to take daily. A control group were given a placebo to take each day, and the other women were given either diclofenac, naproxen or etoricoxib.

Ultrasound technology was used to measure the ovary size, endothelial thickness and assess the diameter of the dominate ovum follicle. Progesterone levels were also measured.

Treatment started on day 10 of the menstrual cycle of the participants. After 10 continuous days on the medication, the ultrasound tests were repeated to determine whether ovulation had occurred.

The researchers found that all of the women in the control group had ovulated, but that ovulation rates were much lower for the other test groups. Only around a quarter of the participants on naproxen and etoricoxib ovulated. In the diclofenac group, only around 6 percent of the participants ovulated.

Progesterone levels were measured at the end of the trial, and the NSAIDs were associated with a drop in progesterone levels. Low progesterone levels can play a part in fertility problems.

The inhibited ovulation is thought to be temporary — stopping use of NSAIDs can reverse the problem.

Doctor Sami Salman from the University of Baghdad said: “I’m actually a very late whistleblower, because many others have tried to say the same thing: that NSAIDs — which are widely used and can be bought without a prescription — prevent the ovarian follicle from rupturing, so women who are taking NSAIDs cannot release an ovum to be fertilized.”

A prior published study had similar findings. They stated: “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), widely used due to their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, consistently inhibit ovulation in all mammalian species investigated so far.”

Another small study can be found published in Oxford Journals.

BellyBelly’s Reproductive and Women’s Health specialist, Doctor Andrew Orr echoed the sentiments of the studies. He cautioned:

We do know that medications and hormones prescribed to people on a daily basis do impact ovulation. NSAIDs do fall into this category, and it’s why you should always read the consumer medicine information (contained in medications) if trying to fall pregnant. Of course, this is also true if you have any health issues, including gynaecological problems. Always talk to your health care practitioner or pharmacist (who will often pick up on these things first) about the impact of any medication on your fertility — both in the present and in the future.”

NSAIDs are often used by women of childbearing age, some of whom may by trying to conceive. This new information will help women to make informed choices about the treatment and pain medication they take.

Recommended Reading

If you’re currently trying to conceive, check out BellyBelly’s article Not Getting Pregnant? 9 Questions To Ask Yourself.

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Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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